|Bulldogs Starting To Look Like Promised|
|Written by mark|
|Sunday, 21 September 2008 00:43|
The Dawgs ruled in the desert.
Making a rare regular-season trip out of the Southeast, the third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs scored a decisive 27-10 victory over Arizona State on Saturday night.
Knowshon Moreno rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns, A.J. Green caught eight passes for 159 yards and a suffocating defense did the rest on a 99-degree night.
``Considering the team we played, I'd have to say that was the most complete game for our team this year,'' coach Mark Richt said after Georgia won its 11th straight game, the nation's second-longest streak.
This was Georgia's first regular-season trip to the West since 1960, when it played USC in Los Angeles. The Bulldogs brought thousands of followers and their revered mascot, Uga VII, who panted on the sidelines. In a crowd of 72,955, red-clad fans dominated Sun Devil Stadium's end zone upper deck.
Georgia (4-0) came to town with an attitude. They had opened the season atop The Associated Press Top 25 but twice slipped a spot after victories.
The Bulldogs said they weren't thinking about impressing the pollsters, but there's little doubt they did.
``We've got to control what we can control,'' Moreno said.
On Saturday night, the Bulldogs' defense controlled Arizona State (2-2) for most of the game.
After conceding 21 points to Georgia Southern and 17 to Central Michigan, the Bulldogs virtually stoned the Sun Devils.
Arizona State finished with 4 yards rushing on 19 carries - its paltriest rushing total since the Sun Devils netted minus-2 against California on Nov. 9, 2002.
``If you can't run the ball, no way you can win the game, even if you have like 10 receivers out there,'' said ASU receiver Mike Jones, who caught seven passes for 70 yards.
Coming off an unthinkable loss to UNLV on the same field one week ago, the Sun Devils had hoped to spring an upset. Instead, they produced another sub-par performance in the national spotlight.
Arizona State fell to 3-26 against the Top 25 since 2000.
``We've got to find a way to just make big plays, on special teams, on offense, on defense,'' senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter said. ``Until we can do that, we're not going to be able to beat these teams.''
Georgia sacked Carpenter four times and harried him on countless other plays. He finished 23 of 36 for 208 yards and a touchdown.
``I was very proud of our defense,'' said Richt, whose teams are 27-4 in opponents' stadiums. ``I have no idea how many times we sacked (Carpenter), but we pressured him pretty good.''
Georgia's suffocating defense helped it overcome 104 yards in penalties.
Georgia's first score was a YouTube-worthy run by Moreno on the first play of the second quarter. Moreno took a handoff at Arizona State's 9, sped around right end and catapulted into the end zone from the 4.
``Half the guys on our team need a trampoline to make that play,'' Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford said.
The Bulldogs' next score came after a fumble by Arizona State tailback Dimitri Nance at the Sun Devils 46. Five plays later, Moreno burst through a gaping hole in the middle of the line for a 3-yard TD to put the Bulldogs ahead 14-0.
One series earlier, the Bulldogs had blocked a punt but had not cashed in.
``When you get a punt blocked and a fumble, when you're moving the ball down the field against a team like that, it's just disastrous,'' ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. ``You're dealing with really a good football team that you can't give anything to.''
Arizona State trimmed the lead to 14-3 on a 25-yard field goal by Thomas Weber. The kick capped a 10-play 75-yard drive - and 40 of the yards came on Georgia penalties.
That score stirred the home fans. But Georgia responded in a heartbeat.
Stafford hit Green, a freshman, for 23 yards. Then he found Green between two defenders for a 31-yard reception. Three plays later, a wide-open Green caught a 14-yard pass in the end zone for a 21-0 Georgia lead.
``When the ball's thrown my way, I've got to catch it,'' Green said. ``That's my job.''
Stafford completed 16-of-28 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown. He has not thrown an interception this year.
The lightning drive took 1:49, covering 70 yards in five plays.
The Sun Devils tried to make a game of it after halftime. They took the second-half kickoff and marched 71 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 6-yard pass from Carpenter to Andrew Pettes.
But the Bulldogs answered with a 29-yard field goal by Blair Walsh to push their lead back to 24-10 heading into the final quarter. Walsh made it 27-10 with a 22-yarder midway through the fourth quarter.
When it ended, the Bulldogs sprinted to the northeast corner of the stadium and celebrated with their scaled-down pep band.
The Bulldogs didn't plan to party for long. No. 9 Alabama visits Athens next week.
``We just need to suck it up here and get ready for that game,'' Richt said.
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