In relief of former Head Coach Mark Richt, interim head coach Bryan McClendon stepped up to the mic for his beloved Alma matte the Georgia Bulldogs getting them to play a dominating game for two quarters as they flexed their muscles to the tone of a 14 point lead at the half. It looked like the makings of a blowout for about three quarters the score was 24-3 entering the final quarter of the game. Penn State made it interesting going down the stretch. The game turned when starting quarterback Christian Hacklenberg went out with a shoulder injury.
They had him figured out allowing him to complete only 8 passes for 139 yards in nearly three-quarters of play. In came backup quarterback Trace McSorley who threw for 142 yards connecting on 14 of 27 passes for two touchdowns in what amounted to being a little over a half of play. The two touchdowns going down the stretch were huge. A 17 yarder to Geno Lewis and a 20 yarder to Desean Hamilton who made an exciting catch between defenders. Simply put the Georgia defense looked like a team that prepared to play against MaKlenbergh who announced he was going pro. In his absence, the defense was thrown off and wasn’t ready for McSorley’s mobile style of play.
He was indeed that change of pace Penn State needed to make it interesting. They gave their best effort but just couldn’t match up with the SEC team that was more talented, they simply ran out of gas after making the comeback. They nearly pulled off the upset throwing for 281 yards against the nation’s top ranked passing defense that only allowed 140 yards per game. The defense tried to make up for it by limiting Penn State to 120 rushing yards when they allowed others to rush for 151 yards per game. Keep in mind some of those were other SEC opponents.
The Bulldogs played without all world running back Nick Chubb who went out earlier in the season with a horrific knee injury. The next man up was Sony Michel who rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown. And the next, next man up was Keith Marshall who ran for 62 yards on 14 carries.
Penn State clearly came to play using a little trickery on a failed fake punt in the first half. Then Georgia brought their version of trickery out in the second quarter when Wide Receiver Terry Godwin hit Malcolm Mitchell for a 44 yard touchdown pass for one of his 5 receptions for 114 yards. Godwin went on to catch a touchdown pass himself and earn MVP honors.
Penn State still had a chance after Georgia couldn’t pick up a fourth and two late in the game to run the clock out. McSorley using his will to win converted on two fourth down plays but the clock wasn’t on his side as the Georgia running game had taken it’s grind so the clock ran out to a breathe holding Hail Mary that was batted down in the end zone as the clock struck zero. Georgia held on to win it 24-17.