Harton steps up, enjoys 100-yard game

ATHENS, Ga. -- Former walk-on Brandon Harton once again carried the load for Georgia's offense -- although it was not quite as expected this time.

The 5-foot-6 sophomore led the Bulldogs with 98 rushing yards two weeks ago against New Mexico State -- a game in which starter Isaiah Crowell and backups Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome all served one-game suspensions for failing a drug test.

But this time Harton couldn't have foreseen how much playing time he'd see. In the first quarter of Saturday's game against Kentucky, Crowell went down with an ankle injury, and Georgia suspended Thomas before the game for the third time this season for breaking team rules.

"I wasn't really expecting it to happen, but it did and my number got called," Harton said. "I just came in to do whatever my team needed me to do to win."

It was rarely a thing of beauty -- Harton lost two fumbles -- but he helped jolt Georgia's stagnant running game in the second half as the Bulldogs fought to run time off the clock and protect a narrow lead.

Harton posted his first career 100-yard game, rushing 23 times for 101 yards -- 82 of which came after halftime.

"He broke through and made some big runs for us," Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said. "Definitely a big, big game for him -- especially in the second half, coming out there chewing clock and getting us great field position."

Georgia reported before the game that Thomas was not playing because of "personal reasons," but coach Mark Richt said afterward that he had once again broken undisclosed team rules.

Crowell ran twice for a total of 11 yards on the Bulldogs' opening drive, but hobbled off the field with a left ankle injury.

Richt said after the game that he was unsure whether Crowell -- who leads the team with 832 rushing yards -- or Thomas will be available next weekend against Georgia Tech.

"It was bad enough where he didn't play anymore after two carries," Richt said of Crowell. "We're just going to have to wait and see."

Bulldogs' sack man
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham saw something in Jarvis Jones that Jones never saw in himself when he moved the redshirt sophomore into a pass-rushing role at outside linebacker during the offseason.

"When I came into this season, I told people, 'Man, I ain't no pass-rusher,' " Jones laughed after recording 2.5 sacks against Kentucky, running his total to 12.5 this season.

Jones made the play of the game when he sacked Kentucky quarterback Max Smith late in the third quarter, setting up a fumble that Christian Robinson recovered at the Wildcats' 10-yard line. That set up a Murray touchdown pass to Marlon Brown -- the Bulldogs' only touchdown of the day.

Jones is now tied with David Pollack for Georgia's third-best sack total in a season. He's 1.5 sacks behind Pollack's 2002 single-season school record of 14 sacks.

"I give credit to Coach Grantham," said Jones, who is one sack behind Illinois' Whitney Mercilus for the national lead. "We worked on it every week and spent long hours watching film and everything. He created me, man. I can definitely say he created me and he's the reason I'm playing like I'm playing. He gives me tendencies, he taught me the moves I make. So I'm just going out there and working on the things he's been teaching me."

Marlon route
While Georgia's offense sputtered throughout the game, it is somehow poetic that the Bulldogs' lone touchdown came on a play where the receiver ran the wrong route.

Brown admitted to reporters after the game that he wasn't where he was supposed to be when Murray hit him with a 7-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. But he was wide open in the back of the end zone.

"It was not good," Richt said with a laugh afterward. "I don't know what route he ran, really and truly. If he ran the route he was supposed to, he wasn't very convincing on it."

Murray gave his receiver a bit more credit, saying the route Brown ran wasn't too much of a departure from his actual assignment. As the line's protection kept the play alive, Brown "ran a route like you would in the sandlot," Richt said, and he floated to an opening in the middle of the field.

"He ended up in the same location, it just took a little longer, I guess," Murray said. "He did a great job of getting behind the safety, finding a big hole for him once he got back there."

Walsh's comeback
A talking point for Georgia's seniors throughout the week: how meaningful it was for them to have a division title on the line for their final home game.

Clinching the SEC East title Saturday was even more meaningful for senior kicker Blair Walsh, who reclaimed the starting spot he lost two games ago with erratic play -- going 13-for-23 on field goals.

Walsh hadn't attempted a field goal since a miss on Oct. 29 against Florida, but the former Groza Award finalist looked more like his old self against Kentucky. He made four field goals in four tries -- hitting three from 39 yards and one from 25 -- to match his longest streak of consecutive field goals this season.

"Coming into this game, I was just hoping to get an attempt so I could get one more attempt at Sanford and make it," Walsh said. "I was fortunate enough to have four today and connect on them."

Walsh also connected on a PAT, giving him 13 points against Kentucky. He is now second in SEC history with 394 career points. He trails former Georgia kicker Billy Bennett by 15 points for the Georgia and SEC career record for points scored.

Extra points
Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan tied a career high with 17 tackles, along with three tackles for loss, one sack and two forced fumbles. ... Kentucky rushed for 23 yards on 21 attempts. ... Both teams had four turnovers, meaning Georgia hasn't lost the turnover battle in a game since its loss to South Carolina on Sept. 10. ... Tight end Arthur Lynch and fullback Zander Ogletree started for the first time in their careers.

David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at davidchingespn@gmail.com.