Murray leads way as Georgia hands LSU first loss of season

By By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

ATHENS, Ga. — LSU’s Les Miles, frankly, thought he had Georgia right where he wanted it.

“I thought they’d scored too early in my mind,” he said of Aaron Murray’s winning touchdown with 1:47 to play Saturday.

It wasn’t another whacky Les-ism. It sounded perfectly logical.

But on a nutty Southeastern Conference day when it was seemingly impossible to score too much or too often, the Bulldogs timed

Murray’s 21-yard scoring pass to J. Scott-Wesley just right and escaped with a 44-41 victory over the sixth ranked Tigers.

“Ooooh … aagh!” a frustrated Miles said with a Miles phrase that just about summed up the day for the Tigers, who did in fact

score way too early themselves when Jeremy Hill waltzed in from 8 yards out for a 41-37 LSU lead with 4:14 to play.

“I figured we had enough time, plenty of time,” Miles said of the last-gasp effort for yet another march down the field.

Instead, after LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed an 18-yard pass to Odell Beckham, the Georgia defense forced four

consecutive incompletions.

“In the moment of truth, we took care of business,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “That had to be fun for America to watch.”

Only for the offensive-minded.

Georgia’s final stop was about the only

defensive highlight on a day that produced 943 yards of offense and a

game that was

tied at 14, 17, 27 and 34, with never more than a touchdown’s

difference between the two despite points bouncing off all corners

of Sanford Stadium.

“It was crazy,” said LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who caught 10 balls for 156 yards and touchdown. “This is one of those

games you’ll remember forever.”

In the second half, LSU managed to occasionally slow down the Georgia running game that gashed the Tigers for 143 yards rushing

in the first half, but Murray strafed a confused Tigers secondary, eventually throwing for 298 yards and four scores.

“This is a tough loss,” LSU defensive captain Lamin Barrow said. “Not many teams have put up that many points on this defense.

“We had some trouble getting the calls in and called the wrong calls sometimes. Just a little bit of communication problem.”

The winning touchdown pass was

typically wide open, with three defensive backs looking at each other in

astonishment as Scott-Wesley

hauled in the winner.

“Yeah,” Miles said when asked if it was a busted coverage. “There were a lot of coverage busts.

“It’s got to work.”

Georgia, too.

Mettenberger’s homecoming was ruined

despite lighting up Athens with a career-high 372 yards — the most by an

LSU quarterback

in a dozen years — with three touchdowns and a host a crucial

throws that allowed the Tigers to convert 10 of 15 third-down

opportunities.

“Was he perfect?” Miles asked. “No. But he was (darn) good.”

Mettenberger completed 23 of 37,

including touchdowns of 48 and 4 yards to Boone and 39 yards to Landry,

and he threw a threaded-rope

25-yard completion to Beckham on third-and-22 that set up the

Tigers’ final touchdown.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to

connect on a few more passes there at the end,” said Mettenberger, who

insisted he had

total confidence the Tigers had one more scoring drive in them.

“It was just like every other drive, go down there and score.”

It was simple enough most of the day — for both teams.

But while never managing a sack, Georgia did get to Mettenberger four times, including at the start of the final drive.

“We didn’t always get what we wanted with (blitz calls),” Miles said. “We’ve got to do better than that.”

Georgia, despite losing star running back Todd Gurley in the second quarter, finished with 196 yards rushing and 494 yards

of offense.

LSU almost matched it.

“We did not get the rushing yards that we would have liked,” Miles said. “Defensively we have to play better. The secondary

cannot give up those big plays, and we have to rush the passer.”

LSU added 77 yards rushing to Mettenberger’s gaudy throwing stats and finished with 449 yards offense.

“We were a mistake or two away from winning that game,” Miles said curtly.

Beckham’s six catches for 118 yards gave LSU two receivers with more than 100 yards, and Kadron Boone became the first receiver

other Beckham and Landry to catch a touchdown pass.

But Beckham made a crucial mistake when he fumbled a punt at the LSU 20-yard and the Bulldogs recovered.

“I know he’d like to get that muffed punt back,” Miles said. “That said, when you play a quality team on the road you can’t

afford to give them anything like that.”