AUBURN, Ala. — Long before the chaotic finish of Auburn's 43-38 win over Georgia, there was a first for Bulldogs coach Mark Richt.
The first unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty of his coaching career.
"I guess I wasn't pleasant enough in my disagreement with what happened," Richt said afterward.
With 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter, Georgia had just pulled within 13-7 and kicked off to the Tigers. A quick screen from Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis picked up 10 yards out to Auburn's 37, but Louis fumbled on the play. After a pileup and a lengthy delay, officials ruled that Louis had recovered his fumble, incensing Georgia's bench.
"What I saw was a set of legs of an Auburn player whose knees were on the ball and had a free hand," Richt said. "He was trying to get his other hand in there, but I saw Josh Harvey-Clemons wrapped up around the legs and the ball and everything else. I was thinking, 'Surely he's got possession of the ball,' but they didn't see it that way."
Wooten keeps going
After having a career-best showing with 104 yards in last week's 45-6 rout of Appalachian State, senior Bulldogs receiver Rantavious Wooten had a team-high 99 yards on five catches against Auburn. Wooten had a long catch of 41, and his 5-yard touchdown reception from Aaron Murray with 9:35 remaining pulled Georgia within 37-24.
"We were going to try the flanker on their field corner," Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said, "and we thought Wooten would have a big game in this game, and he did. He responded when his number was called.
"He's been a solid, consistent player this year, and that's kind of what we've thought of him all along."
On Georgia's first possession, Tigers defensive end Dee Ford blew by Bulldogs right tackle John Theus for a second-down sack of Murray. On third down, Ford got by Theus again and just missed getting another sack.
"He's just a fast kid who was jumping that count really well," Theus said. "He had definitely watched film, because he knew what he was doing. We adjusted some things and changed up the cadence a little bit and were able to draw them offside a couple of times."
Bobo put Kolton Houston in at right tackle but then had Theus back in the game for most of the second half.
"He was just speed-rushing us there," Bobo said. "After that first drive I thought we handled him pretty well, and we started working our short passing game."
Busy day for Gurley
Georgia sophomore tailback Todd Gurley finished with 15 carries for 79 yards and with 10 receptions for 77 yards. He scored the first touchdown for the Bulldogs on a 9-yard run with 10:11 remaining in the second quarter.
Gurley became Georgia's first player with at least 10 receptions in a game since Mohamed Massaquoi had 11 in the 2008 loss to Georgia Tech.
Odds and ends
Murray set the SEC record for career completions at 896 with his 5-yard touchdown to Wooten. ... Georgia backup tight end Jay Rome tweeted Saturday morning that he tore a muscle and a ligament in his foot and that he could be awaiting surgery after the cast comes off. ... Auburn improved to 303-4 when scoring more than 30 points. ... Bulldogs freshman linebacker Leonard Floyd blocked a 36-yard field goal with Auburn leading 20-7 in the second quarter, marking the second blocked field goal for the Bulldogs in as many weeks. ... Georgia junior flanker Chris Conley returned after missing two games with an ankle injury and had two catches for 24 yards.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.
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 ...