Georgia running back J.J. Green (15) is tackled for a short gain by Missouri defensive back Randy Ponder (7) and linebacker Donovan Bonner (8) in the first half of of an NCAA college football game game at Sanford Stadium Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. in Athens, Ga.
ATHENS, Ga. — They may not draw comparisons to Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall any time soon, but freshman tailbacks J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas kept Georgia competitive in Saturday's 41-26 loss to Missouri.
Green rushed 12 times for 87 yards, while Douglas had 14 carries for 70 yards. Douglas also had a team-high six receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown, but he gave up a fumble at Missouri's 6-yard line with a minute and 31 seconds remaining before halftime.
"I thought those guys played well," Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "I thought we had to spread it out to run the ball against these guys, and we were able to hit some runs in there. They were where they were supposed to be on checkdowns all game.
"We knew it was going to be a big game for them, because they were going to make us be patient. Sometimes we were patient and sometimes we weren't."
The bulk of Green's yardage occurred at the start of the third quarter, when he had an 8-yard carry followed by a 57-yard run to Missouri's 10. Green was stopped for no gain on his next carry, and Aaron Murray threw two incompletions before the Bulldogs settled on a field goal to pull within 28-13.
"If we had scored a touchdown right there, we probably would have won," Green said. "It would have been a whole different ballgame."
Douglas ended the third quarter with a 9-yard reception and a 12-yard run. When the drive resumed in the fourth, he added runs of 8 and 13 yards to help pull Georgia within 28-26.
"We're not paralyzed or handcuffed with those guys in there," said head coach Mark Richt, who added that he's "much more hopeful" of Gurley playing next week at Vanderbilt.
After allowing a sack that resulted in a Murray fumble and a touchdown for the Tigers that made it 28-10, Georgia senior tight end Arthur Lynch wanted to make up for his gaffe. He got an opportunity late in the first half when he caught a second-and-10 pass from Murray at midfield.
As Lynch headed for the first down, he hurdled a Missouri defensive back and wound up gaining 15 yards while delighting Bulldogs fans.
"I felt responsible for seven points," Lynch said, "and I just wanted to make a play to get the crowd going again. I thought that did, but then we fumbled in the red zone, which was tough."
Sophomore punter Collin Barber returned after suffering a concussion during last week's overtime escape of Tennessee, but he was ineffective against the Tigers. Barber punted twice for a 32-yard average before being replaced by Adam Erickson, who averaged 40.5 yards on his two punts.
Richt did not say the switch would be permanent.
"He had the concussion and came back, but he didn't really punt until Thursday," Richt said. "He struggled a little bit Thursday, too. With a week of practice, I think there's a really good chance he'll be back in there."
Odds and ends
Murray threw three touchdown passes Saturday and now has 112 for his career, two shy of Danny Wuerffel's SEC record. ... Senior receiver Rantavious Wooten had a career-high 83 yards on four catches and a career-long 48-yard reception early in the second quarter. ... Inside linebacker Reggie Carter became the sixth true freshman and the seventh member of the 2013 signing class to make a defensive start for the Bulldogs.
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 ...