Thursday, May 24, 2018
Colleges

Bulldogs' Aaron Murray scores third victory over Gators

JACKSONVILLE — For the third straight year, Aaron Murray left EverBank Field with a win against Florida.

The last Georgia quarterback to accomplish that feat? Buck Belue in 1979-81.

Murray, a former standout at Plant High, had a hot start then the Bulldogs held off the Gators 23-20 to snap a two-game skid. The redshirt senior was 16-of-25 for 258 yards and a touchdown. But 172 of those yards and the touchdown came during the game's first 15 minutes.

"Obviously, you want to dominate from the beginning to the end," Murray said. "But we knew it was going to be a dogfight."

On the game's first play from scrimmage, Murray ran for 17 yards. He later converted a third and 5 with a 9-yard pass to Michael Bennett. Two plays later — and 2:45 into the game — Todd Gurley's 5-yard run made it 7-0.

Murray's longest play came on Georgia's second possession, a 73-yard catch-and-run down the middle of the field for a touchdown by Gurley, who capitalized on linebacker Antonio Morrison's blitz. The score, just 5:41 into the game, put Murray at 113 career touchdowns, one behind the SEC record of former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerrfel.

For the majority of the second half, Murray struggled to get the offense firing. In the third quarter, his lateral led to a fumble and he was sacked in the end zone by cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy for a safety.

But during a Georgia drive that burned the final 8:17 off of the clock, Murray completed all three of his passes. One went to Rhett McGowan for 7 yards on third and 7 and forced Florida to use its final two timeouts.

Murray's poise during the game-sealing drive impressed Bulldogs coach Mark Richt.

"He managed it well," Richt said. "I've seen him earlier in his career with his eyes a little wider. He was fine."

After Murray kneeled to end the game, he ran a lap around the stadium and soaked in the adulation from the Georgia faithful.

"It was a happy moment and a sad moment all at the same time, realizing that was my last time — I was getting chill bumps thinking about it — my last time playing the Gators," said Murray, who finished 3-1 against Florida.

"It's awesome to go out on top."

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