Instant analysis: Georgia 44, Texas A&M 20

A quick look at Georgia’s 44-20 victory over Texas A&M on Monday in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl:

How the game was won: The Bulldogs scored 30 unanswered points and broke the game open thanks to their special teams dominance and the Aggies’ special teams ineptitude. Georgia blocked a field goal attempt, returned a kickoff for a touchdown, recovered a high punt snap by Texas A&M to set up a touchdown and blocked a punt, which led to another touchdown. The Bulldogs started deep in Texas A&M territory on their first three touchdown drives – the 2, 25 and 32.

Turning point: The two teams had gone more than 27 minutes without scoring any points in the first half, but Texas A&M took a 7-0 lead with 2:33 to play in the half on Jerrod Johnson’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Jamie McCoy. Only seconds later, the Bulldogs answered right back when Brandon Boykin took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 81 yards for a touchdown, his third kickoff return for a touchdown this season.

Stat of the game: Georgia gave up 471 yards of total offense, but Texas A&M didn’t reach 20 points until the final minute when the game had long since been decided. The Bulldogs were pretty stingy any time the Aggies got near the red zone.

Player of the game: Georgia redshirt freshman defensive end Cornelius Washington led an inspired effort by the entire Georgia defensive line, which got after Johnson all game long and forced him into several bad or rushed throws.

Unsung hero: The Bulldogs were playing without their starting right tackle, Josh Davis, who was out with an ankle injury. Vince Vance struggled at that position in the first half, but Justin Anderson replaced him in the second half and provided a much-needed lift for Georgia up front after a miserable start to the game.

What it means: Georgia (8-5) can go into the offseason feeling better about itself after knocking off Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale and winning its fourth straight bowl game. It’s not what anybody in Athens wanted or expected, but the Bulldogs showed their pride as a program by not completely unraveling after that bitter home loss to Kentucky back on Nov. 21. The next step is for Mark Richt to settle on his defensive coordinator. It’s obviously a huge hire for Richt and a huge hire for the program.

Record performance: Boykin’s 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was his third of the season, which tied an SEC record. Vanderbilt’s Warren Norman also returned three kickoffs for touchdowns this season, and Tennessee’s Willie Gault returned three in a season in 1980.