Gurley's 3 TDs lead No. 6 Dogs past Buffalo, 45-23
Saturday, September 1, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Freshman tailback Todd Gurley ran for three touchdowns, Aaron Murray threw three scoring passes and No. 6 Georgia overcame a sloppy first half to beat Buffalo 45-23 on Saturday.
Gurley didn't start but may have emerged as the Bulldogs' future at tailback with his eight carries for 100 yards, including scoring runs of 10 and 55 yards. He added a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Georgia, favored by 37½ points, led only 24-16 at halftime before pulling away in the season opener for both teams.
Another freshman tailback, Keith Marshall, had 10 carries for 46 yards and starter Ken Malcome had six carries for 32 yards before hurting his left hand in the third quarter.
Branden Oliver, coming off his school-record 1,395 yards rushing in 2011, had 30 carries for 111 yards and a 2-yard touchdown run for the Bulls.
Georgia opened the season with a tailback committee but Gurley may have claimed the lead role. Gurley (6-1, 218) showed both power and speed and was the highlight to Georgia's otherwise unimpressive opener.
Gurley is Georgia's first freshman to run for 100 yards in his first game since Danny Ware ran for 135 yards against Georgia Southern in 2004.
Buffalo's Alex Zordich completed 14 of 24 passes for 148 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Alex Neutz in the first quarter. Zordich added 14 carries for 83 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown run late in the game.
Murray completed 15 of 26 passes 258 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. After his sluggish opening half, Murray threw scoring passes of 38 yards to Rantavious Wooten in the third quarter and 12 yards to Michael Bennett in the fourth.
Murray, a junior opening his third season as the starter, struggled early in the game with accuracy, often overthrowing receivers. He was on target for a 63-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King, giving Georgia a 24-6 lead in the second quarter.
Georgia ranked fifth in the nation in total defense in 2011 but was missing several starters due to suspensions and injuries.
Three starters — safety Bacarri Rambo, linebacker Alec Ogletree and cornerback Sanders Commings — were held out with suspensions. Richt had not confirmed the Rambo and Ogletree suspensions before the game but had announced Commings and outside linebacker Chase Vasser would serve two-game suspensions after offseason arrests. The other suspensions were for violations of team rules.
Georgia also was without cornerback Malcolm Mitchell, who was on crutches after spraining his left ankle in Thursday's practice, and wide receiver Marlon Brown, who has a strained left hamstring.
Freshman left tackle John Theus left with an apparent left knee injury in the fourth quarter.
Buffalo also was missing a top defensive player. Linebacker Khalil Mack served a one-game suspension for violating team rules.