Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, right, celebrates with teammate Rantavious Wooten, after the pair connected on a pass for a touchdown in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Appalachian State today in Athens, Ga.Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
ATHENS, Ga. — Appalachian State took the opening kickoff and held the ball 7 minutes in an impressive drive that gave the Mountaineers confidence and the lead against heavily favored Georgia.
The problem was the time-consuming possession only led to a field goal, leaving coach Scott Satterfield and his team to wonder what might have been if the Mountaineers had reached the end zone.
Appalachian State kicked field goals on each of its first two drives and didn't score again as Georgia recovered from a sluggish start to beat the Mountaineers 45-6 Saturday.
Aaron Murray threw two scoring passes, Todd Gurley, J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas ran for touchdowns and Georgia outscored the Mountaineers 31-0 in the second half after leading only 14-6 at halftime.
Satterfield called the game "the tale of two halves" for his Mountaineers (2-8).
"We had a really good game plan," Satterfield said. "We started out strong and didn't shy away from this game. Our guys played with great effort to start the game. We certainly had some opportunities to put some more points on the board in the first half. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times in the red zone, got a couple of penalties that backed us up.
"If we could have punched it in during the first half, maybe taken the lead, it might have been a different game."
Appalachian State (2-8) reached eight losses for the first time since a 3-8 finish in 1979. The Mountaineers, in their last season as a FCS team, are moving to the Sun Belt Conference in 2014.
The opening drive showcased Appalachian State's plan to attack with short, quick passes from Kameron Bryant and change-of-pace runs from Marcus Cox.
Bryant was 8 for 8 passing for 73 yards on the drive to set up Drew Stewart's 33-yard field goal. Andrew Peacock caught five passes on the drive and had 12 receptions for 90 yards in the game.
"It was an awesome game plan," Peacock said. "We prepared real hard this week. We knew what our plan was, which was to spread them out and hit the short passes, try to get as many first downs as we could, keep the (Georgia) offense off the field and grind away at them. We had big success with that in the first half. We have just got to carry that into the second half."
Stewart added a 49-yard field goal, the longest of his career, late in the first quarter. He had another 49-yarder blocked at the line by Jordan Jenkins and was wide left from 46 yards in the second quarter.
Bryant completed 22 of 39 passes for 221 yards with one interception. Cox led the Mountaineers with 23 carries for 59 yards.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray gave his teammates a pep talk before the second half. The Bulldogs (6-3) responded with 17 third-quarter points. Backup quarterback Hutson Mason led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives.
Murray completed 19 of 26 passes for 281 yards with touchdown passes to Rantavious Wooten and Michael Bennett. He threw one interception. Mason threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Kenneth Towns.
Murray began the day one touchdown pass behind Danny Wuerffel's Southeastern Conference career record of 114 at Florida from 1993-96.
Murray matched Wuerffel's mark with his 35-yard scoring pass to Wooten in the first quarter. Murray, making his 50th consecutive start, threw over the middle to Bennett for a 23-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to set the record. He already set SEC career records for yards passing and total offense this season.
"I'm more glad that it's over and we can move on and I don't have to worry about that question anymore," Murray said.
Appalachian State was held to 253 total yards, including only 59 in the second half.
"They made some adjustments," Peacock said. "They didn't expect that score to be what it was at halftime, so I'm sure some of their leaders stepped up and said some things during halftime to those guys and got them pumped up. They came out fighting in the second half."
Mason completed 11 of 16 attempts for 160 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Georgia's Marshall Morgan kicked a 42-yard field goal early in the third quarter before the Bulldogs launched their string of four touchdown drives.
Georgia strong safety Corey Moore was ejected in the second quarter when called for targeting on his hit on receiver Tony Washington. Replays indicated Moore led with his shoulder when he hit Washington's helmet on the incompletion.
Washington had five catches for 78 yards.