Murray breaks TD record as UGA pulls away for win over Appalachian State

Georgia’s game against FCS foe Appalachian State was no cakewalk. At least early.

Stress-free Saturdays apparently aren’t in Georgia’s DNA this season.

A game that looked like a mismatch on paper didn’t become one until the second half.

As Aaron Murray became the Southeastern Conference’s all-time career touchdown passing leader, Georgia rolled up 31 points in the final two quarters en route to a 45-6 rout in Sanford Stadium.

“Coaches were pretty intense,” outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said of the halftime vibe. “We were told we pretty much had to get our [stuff] together and go out there and play how Georgia should play, go out there and ball out like we should.”

Murray became the SEC’s all-time career touchdown passing leader after first-half touchdown passes of 35 yards to Rantavious Wooten and 23 yards to Michael Bennett, moving one past Florida’s Danny Wuerrfel. Murray now has 115.

He called that a “huge honor to be up there,” but it came in a first half that was so sluggish he said he needed to have a “little pep talk” with the offense.

“He definitely got us going,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.

Backup quarterback Hutson Mason wasn’t sure if and when he was going to get in the game.

“I was just thinking, ‘Come on guys,’” Mason said.

Mason entered to big cheers when he replaced Murray (19 of 26 for 281 yards with two touchdowns and one interception) with 14:52 left. In only his second appearance of the season, Mason completed his first eight passes, including a 3-yard touchdown grab by walk-on Kenneth Towns.

Georgia (6-3, 4-2 SEC) led just 14-6 at halftime against a team with losses to the likes of North Carolina A&T, Furman and Chattanooga.

“We just have not been the team that lines up and rolls anybody,” coach Mark Richt said. “We haven’t been that team. We haven’t been consistent enough in our execution to do that. We got to get better.”

Added Bobo: “We’ve pretty much got to execute and be on top of our game because we’ve lost a lot of our explosive bullets, so to speak. When you’re not executing, not catching the ball and turning it over, you’re going to end up with only 14 points. … It’s like a new team from what it was at the beginning of the year.”

Appalachian State (2-8) amassed 122 yards on its first two drives of the game, getting field goals of 33 and a career-long 49 yards from Drew Stewart.

Kameron Bryant (22 of 39 for 221 yards with an interception) completed 12 of his first 13 passes, getting little resistance in the short and intermediate passing game.

Stewart had a chance to put the Mountaineers ahead but another 49-yard field goal try was blocked by Jenkins early in the second quarter and Georgia pitched a shutout in the final three quarters.

The Mountaineers were kept out of the end zone and held to 253 yards of total offense.

“I’m fine. Move on,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “Anytime you hold a team out of the end zone, I’m going to be happy.”

Tailback Todd Gurley, playing for the first time at home since he injured his ankle against LSU on Sept. 28, rushed for 75 yards on 13 carries and scored standing up on a 2-yard touchdown with 4:34 left in the third quarter. 

Gurley said the ankle that kept him out three games this season held up “pretty good.”

“Quite frankly, we need him on offense,” Bobo said. “We’re not near as explosive when he’s not in there.”

The Bulldogs became bowl-eligible for the 17th straight season, a streak tied for fourth-longest nationally.

Next up is a road test Saturday against No. 7 Auburn, which stomped Tennessee 55-23.

“They’re hot,” Richt said. “Auburn’s hot offensively especially. … They do like to run the ball and they run it well.”

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