Georgia receiver and Camilla native Justin Scott-Wesley caught four passes for 55 yards on Saturday, including a 25-yard TD pass from Aaron Murray with 1:47 left to win the SEC showdown in Athens. It was Scott-Wesley’s second game-winning TD catch of the season. (Reuters)
ATHENS — Sixth-ranked LSU and No. 9 Georgia stood toe to toe Saturday at Sanford Stadium, trading haymakers that would have made Floyd Mayweather proud.
In the end, Georgia landed the final blow with an Aaron Murray 25-yard TD pass to Camilla native Justin Scott-Wesley with 1:47 left. The Bulldogs held on to beat the Tigers, 44-41, thanks to Scott-Wesley’s second game-winning TD this season.
“In the moment of truth we took care of business,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “That had to be fun for America to watch (and) for our fans. You don’t get many opportunities like that and have it come out the way it did.”
Fans from both sides never got time to grab their breath, and after Jeremy Hill gave LSU a 41-37 lead with an 8-yard run with 4:41 to play, Murray was the man thrust in the spotlight.
He drove the Bulldogs back for the winning score: a 25-yard touchdown pass with 1:47 remaining.
The victory was the Bulldogs’ second over a sixth-ranked team; they beat South Carolina 41-30 three weeks ago.
“Congratulations to Georgia. They did a very good job and have a very good football team,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “We were a mistake or two from winning what was a very competitive game.”
For all the grief Murray has received over the years for his failure to beat Top 10 teams, this victory was particularly satisfying. Especially with the way the Bulldogs (3-1, 2-0) were able to pull it out.
It took just 2:27 for Murray to drive Georgia 75 yards as he never faced a third down before hitting a wide-open Scott-Wesley for the winning score.
“We knew that we had plenty of time and there was no reason to panic,” Murray said. “We knew today was going to be a fight, and we were up to it.”
With the crowd roaring, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed a first-down pass to the Bulldog 35, but four straight incompletions by the Athens native enabled Georgia to hold on and remain in the chase for the national title.
“We gave up some plays that we shouldn’t have given up, but I think coming out there with those plays behind us was really a comforting feeling for the whole unit,” Georgia cornerback Damian Swann said. “I think we’re going to be fine, but we’ve obviously got more work to do.”
Murray and Mettenberger were the big stories all game.
Murray completed 20 of 34 passes for 298 yards and four touchdowns, while Mettenberger hit 23 of 37 for 372 yards and three scores.
“I want you to know something: Zach came here to play quarterback for the Tigers and to try to lead his team to victory,” Miles said. “And that is what he did. Was he perfect? No. But he was good. We like him as our quarterback.”
The track meet that many anticipated didn’t take long to develop as each team tallied a pair of first-quarter touchdowns.
Murray tossed touchdown passes of 5 yards to Michael Bennett and 25 to Chris Conley, while Mettenberger connected twice with Kadron Boone, first on a 48-yarder and again from 4 yards.
Mettenberger’s second touchdown pass to Boone came seven plays after defensive tackle Anthony Johnson intercepted a Murray pass at the Bulldog 38.
Both defenses started to settle down in the second, with the teams trading field goals — 24 yards by Marshall Morgan and 49 yards by Colby Delahoussaye.
Tied at 17-17 with 3:51 left in the half, Georgia had time to find the end zone one more time. The Bulldogs drove 66 yards, scoring on a 1-yard run by Murray with 20 seconds remaining.
LSU took the second-half kickoff and drove almost 60 yards before settling for a 39-yard field goal by Delahoussaye.
The Bulldogs answered, getting a career-long 55-yarder from Moran to push the lead back to seven, 27-20.
But back came the Tigers.
This time, LSU found the end zone, driving 80 yards before scoring on a 39-yard pass from Mettenberger to Jarvis Landry with 3:40 left in the third.