Friday, December 13, 2002
Georgia 37, Virginia 14
HONOLULU -- University of Georgia's players backed up their lobbying to have fired coach Jim Donnan lead them into their bowl game.
Georgia quarterback Cory Phillips helped the balanced Georgia offense with 213 passing yards, connecting on 22 of 35 throws.
Terrence Edwards ran five times for 97 yards and caught eight passes for 79 yards, and the Bulldogs' defense scored two touchdowns to give No. 24 Georgia (8-4) a school-record fourth consecutive bowl victory in Donnan's final game, 37-14 Sunday.
"We went out and played well for Coach D, for ourselves, to prove all the doubters wrong," said Edwards, who also scored a touchdown and was the most valuable player of the game. "This game meant a lot to a lot of people. Winning four straight bowl games, four straight eight-win seasons (is) at least a building stone for next year."
Donnan, who went 40-19 in five seasons at Georgia, was fired after the Bulldogs finished the regular season with three defeats in their last four games. But his players asked the school to let Donnan coach the bowl game.
"This team has always done a good job of answering the call," he said. "They didn't do this for me tonight. They did it for pride and for the University of Georgia. I am very proud of my team."
The game also marked the final game for Virginia coach George Welsh, who retired as the Atlantic Coast Conference's winningest coach. Welsh, 67, compiled 134-86-3 record during 19 years at Virginia.
"You'd like to go out with a win," Welsh said. "It just didn't work out. We shot ourselves in the foot too many times."
The Cavaliers (6-6) took a blow early when quarterback Dan Ellis was sidelined on their opening drive after a jarring hit from cornerback Jamie Henderson. Ellis sat out the rest of the game with an ankle sprain, making the Cavaliers a one-dimensional team with the run.
Freshman Bryson Spinner took over and completed 13 of 21 passes for 145 yards and two interceptions.
Georgia's Cory Phillips completed 22 of 35 passes for 213 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
"We played great," Phillips said. "It's a great coaching staff. It's been a tough situation for everybody, but this win puts some positive light to it.
"We had a good week of preparation, we were focused and we had fun."
Georgia scored two touchdowns off fumble recoveries for the first time since 1992.
The game was the third bowl matchup between the teams in six seasons. The Cavaliers won 34-27 in the 1995 Peach Bowl, but the Bulldogs prevailed 35-33 in the same bowl in 1998.
Before a crowd of 24,187, the Bulldogs took a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and were never challenged after that.
"We wanted to end with a win," Bulldogs defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. "With everything going on, it was real emotional and this win takes a lot of this pain away."
Georgia successfully gambled on a fake punt that set up its first touchdown, a 40-yard run off a reverse by Edwards.
Twenty-one seconds later, Tyree Foreman fumbled on the Cavaliers' 8-yard line and Bulldogs safety Kentrell Curry recovered the ball in the end zone.
The Cavaliers went 97 yards in the second quarter and scored on a 14-yard run by Demetrius Dotson to make it 17-7. The touchdown was set up by a 78-yard pass from Spinner to Tavon Mason.
Virginia's only score in the second half came when linebacker Byron Thweatt recovered a fumble and returned it 58 yards, making it 24-14.
But Georgia then scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including Cap Burnett's 4-yard fumble return that made it 37-17.
|Georgia quarterback Cory Phillips helped the balanced Georgia offense with 213 passing yards, connecting on 22 of 35 throws.|