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January 1, 2014

A sad, soggy ending

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What can only be described as a disappointing 2013 campaign came to a sad and soggy end Wednesday in the Gator Bowl at a rainy EverBank Field against Nebraska.

Between the turnovers, dropped passes and a key defensive breakdown, there wasn't a lot of positives to pull from after watching Georgia drop a 24-19 decision to the Big Ten Cornhuskers.

Even the players weren't denying that.

"This has been a really rough season for the guys," wide receiver Chris Conley said of the Bulldogs, who finished the year 8-5. "I hate it that the seniors had to go out like this. We fought to the end but we didn't have enough to pull it out."

In many ways, the game epitomized the year, one that fans are anxious to forget.

The Bulldogs fumbled three times, including one critical mistake when Reggie Davis dropped a punt at the Georgia 14 to set up a Cornhusker score.

That wasn't all.

Another Nebraska touchdown came as a result of a 99-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Armstrong to Quincy Enunwa on a third-and-14.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs appeared to drop more passes than they have all year, including one by tight end Arthur Lynch that botched what would have been a fourth-down conversion inside the Husker 10 with 30 seconds left to play.

"You hate to let your teammates down like that," said Lynch, almost in tears. "You just hate it."

Lynch's drop wasn't the only crucial one.

On Georgia's prior possession, the Bulldogs were once again deep in Husker territory when a fourth-and-2 pass from Hutson Mason bounced off the hands of Rantavious Wooten with 2:49 to play.

Head coach Mark Richt said he never considered kicking a field goal.

"I didn't really think about kicking the field goal. I knew if we made it on fourth down, we kept the drive going, we could make the touchdown, take the lead. I knew if we didn't make it, they were backed up pretty far, another shot at scoring a touchdown," he said. "Obviously we could have kicked a field goal. But then you have to kick it off, cover the kick. We've covered very well, but you take a risk of something happening there."

As for Mason, Wednesday's contest had its share of both good and bad.

In what was his second start, Mason battled through the wet conditions to complete 21-of-39 for 320 yards and touchdown.

But it was a third-quarter interception that helped put a real damper on his day when Josh Mitchell picked him off after Georgia received the second-half kickoff.

That mistake led to Nebraska's second touchdown, a 1-yard run by Ameer Abdullah who led all rushers with 27 carries for 122 yards.

"I felt great the whole game. The first couple drives, I know we converted some big third downs. I don't feel I came out slow or anything," he said. "I wasn't perfect wasn't perfect at all throughout the game. But I felt like we were doing great things, moving the ball down the field. We just weren't really finishing like we could have."

As a result, the Bulldogs had to settle for field goals - four in fact by sophomore kicker Marshall Morgan.

Todd Gurley rushed 21 times for 86 yards, falling 11 yards short of the 1,000 mark for the season.

It was a gloomy day from the beginning.

The Bulldogs never could get their run game going, finishing with just 48 yards on 23 carries which led to the team settling for field goals of 38, 28 and 38 yards.

Nebraska's offense was even less effective, but nevertheless were able to go into halftime up 10-9 thanks to a fumbled punt by Davis that the Huskers recovered at the Georgia 14.

From there, it took Nebraska just two plays to score on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Armstrong to Enunwa which the Cornhuskers used to take a 10-9 lead into the lockerroom.



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