published Sunday, December 4th, 2011

LSU rolls in second half to SEC title

LSU  quarterback Jordan Jefferson (9) and safety Brandon Taylor (18) carry the trophy after their 42-10 win over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, in Atlanta.
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson (9) and safety Brandon Taylor (18) carry the trophy after their 42-10 win over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, in Atlanta.
(AP Photo by Dave Martin)

ATLANTA -- LSU is moving on to college football's national championship game, while Georgia is still trying to get the license number of that second-half steamroller.

The No. 12 Bulldogs dominated the No. 1 Tigers during the early stages of Saturday's Southeastern Conference title game at the Georgia Dome, but LSU broke loose for 35 points after halftime in applying a 42-10 flattening. By improving to 13-0, the Tigers cemented a spot in the Jan. 9 BCS championship game in New Orleans, where they won national crowns in 2003 and '07.

"I guess we just lost our focus coming out of the locker room at halftime," Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings said. "A lot of times their offense had a short field, and it was tough for us to play like that on defense. They got too many plays on special teams, and we just didn't play in the second half.

"I definitely don't think the score was a reflection of the game."

Saturday's title game was the 20th in league history and drew a sold-out crowd of 74,515.

Georgia took a quick 10-0 lead on a Blair Walsh field goal and a 12-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray to tight end Aron White. The Bulldogs surprised LSU with an early onside kick and held the Tigers to 11 yards through the first quarter.

It was more of the same for Georgia's defense in the second quarter, as LSU managed 1 yard, but the Tigers did get within 10-7 on Tyrann Mathieu's 62-yard punt return for a touchdown. Mathieu added a fumble recovery and a 47-yard punt return in the second half to run away with game MVP honors.

"When you play as hard as he does, good things do happen to you," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I'll be honest with you, I enjoy watching the guy play football other than when he plays against us, because when you do see a guy like that, you can appreciate it."

Said Mathieu: "Obviously we got off to a slow start, so I just felt that I needed to change the momentum of the game."

LSU seized control three plays into the third quarter, when Mathieu recovered a Murray fumble that had been caused by Michael Brockers at Georgia's 26-yard line. The Tigers picked up their initial first down on a pass from Jordan Jefferson to Rueben Randle and then capped a two-play drive with Kenny Hilliard's 15-yard touchdown run that made it 14-10.

Hilliard scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter, and the rout was on.

"We played lights out in the first half, and we've got to use this as a learning experience," Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "When you give a good team opportunities, that happens."

Georgia had an opportunity to build much more than a 10-0 lead. Tavarres King had a pass go through his hands on Georgia's first possession, when the Bulldogs had to settle for a field goal, and Mitchell was alone inside the LSU 5-yard line when he bobbled and dropped the ball.

Walsh followed Mitchell's gaffe by missing a 45-yard field goal.

"We had several opportunities to go up big in the first half, and that's on us wideouts," King said. "The lighting is different here at the Dome, but it's our job is to know where the ball is at all times."

Said Mitchell: "I tried to run before I caught the ball. Rule number one is focus on the ball and make the catch."

Alfred Blue wound up leading LSU rushers with eight carries for 94 yards and had a 48-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Hilliard added 72 on eight, and Jefferson wound up completing just five passes for 30 yards and a touchdown.

The Bulldogs, who were making their first SEC title-game appearance in six years, are now 2-2 in the event.

"We'll be back in this game," Richt said. "We may play in it next year."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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richadamrich said...

Does anyone else see the parallels with TN and Coach Fulmer in his second to last season?...

-Same as Fulmer, Coach Richt was on the hotseat with the fans, but pulled out SEC championship game appearance against LSU - and lost. (Not because we are an exceptionally good team, but lucking into it). Our Dawgs played 5 D-1 teams this year with winning records and lost to 3 of them, and did not play LSU, AL, or Arkasas in the regular season. Prediction - Right or wrong, we will be looking for a new coach after next season. GO DAWGS!!

December 4, 2011 at 7:18 a.m.
ooltewahorange said...

It was just a matter of time before Georgia was slapped back to reality. They managed by luck of the draw to dodge the powers of the west and beat mediocre teams thru the year, getting their fans excited and making the koolaid by the gallon. Fact is, until we (rest of sec) can stack the deck with 3 and 4 deep at every position, then we can expect to watch Saban and Miles duke it out every year. It was just a matter of time.

December 4, 2011 at 8:48 a.m.
signalmtnman said...

I agree with the two above posts and believe this is more evidence that UGA should not be considered among the SEC elites and quite frankly no East team should be. The East will be wide open again next year and could go to Vandy or UT about as easily as UGA, USC or UF. Probably whichever team has the easiest road against the West is the winner.

December 4, 2011 at 10:47 a.m.
eastridge8 said...

I agree with ALL of the above posts....Georgia just "lucked out" on their "wins" until they were totally stopped by LSU. It's LSU's and Bama's time in the spotlight now....Bama is firmly on a ROLL now after several down seasons and LSU has trully come into it's own...

Congratulations to LSU for a GREAT win....and Good luck in the next game to them and to Bama....from a diehard VOL fan!

December 4, 2011 at 12:19 p.m.
Marathon5454 said...

Tenn fans crowing about a Georgia loss--lol--With the Vol program in shambles, you need something to crow about

December 4, 2011 at 8:44 p.m.
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