Stafford helps Bulldogs manhandle Catamounts
Athens, GA (Sports Network) - Matthew Stafford threw for 174 yards and two touchdowns and Knowshon Moreno ran strong for 94 yards and a score, as 23rd- ranked Georgia rebounded from a loss to South Carolina with a 45-16 thrashing of Western Carolina.
Georgia (2-1) shared the wealth offensively, as three different running backs scored touchdowns and three more caught touchdown passes. Ten different receivers caught a pass with Mohamed Massaquoi leading the way with three catches for 47 yards.
"We played well, went out there and took care of business," Stafford said. "It gives some needed momentum heading into next week. I felt pretty efficient. I pretty much threw the ball where it needed to be thrown. I wanted to help guys make plays. We played well as a team. It was good to see."
Adam Hearns and Todd Spitzer each saw action at quarterback for the Catamounts (0-3), with Spitzer completing 6-of-10 for 16 yards and Hearns finishing 10- of-14 for 122 yards. Western Carolina ran the ball 33 times for just 63 yards, averaging just 1.9 yards per carry.
"We moved the ball well. We put some points on the board," Spitzer said. "We got those points off field goals, but not touchdowns. If you turn those nine points into three touchdowns, it's a totally different ball game. What killed us were some missed assignments and drives stalling in the red zone."
The Bulldogs struck first with a 12-play march that led to Brandon Coutu's 37- yard field goal. Georgia converted a pair of third downs on the drive, including a pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-11 from the Bulldogs' 48-yard line.
Western Carolina squared the contest thanks to its defense late in the first quarter. Stafford was sacked and stripped by Gene Singletary, with Meko Watson falling on the ball at the Georgia 14-yard line. The Catamounts managed little offense and Jonathan Parsons booted a 29-yard chip shot for a 3-3 game.
Georgia put together a drive spanning portions of the first and second stanzas to again regain the lead. The 65-yard march included a 12-yard sprint by Moreno and a 13-yard connection between Stafford and Tripp Chandler. Thomas Brown took in Stafford's pass for a 10-yard score with 12:55 left in the half.
The Catamounts answered right back with another field goal by Parsons, a 41- yard kick that cut the deficit to 10-6 with 9:11 remaining in the half. The drive was triggered by Mike Malone's 46-yard kickoff return.
However, the Western Carolina defense couldn't keep the Bulldogs out of the end zone. Stafford found Massaquoi for 22 yards and Sean Bailey for 17 yards to start the march. The signal-caller completed two more tosses in a row, the latter a 15-yard touchdown to Bailey for a 17-6 game.
Again, Western Carolina answered with a field goal for a 17-9 game. Malone was on the receiving end of a 16-yard pass on 3rd-and-7, putting the ball at the Georgia 40-yard line. Parsons eventually drilled home a 46-yard kick with one minute to play.
The Bulldogs responded in the half's final minute. Stafford tossed a 24-yard pass to Moreno, who later sprinted 23 yards for a touchdown following an 18- yard connection from Stafford to Massaquoi. Moreno's run with 30 seconds left made the score 24-9.
Georgia added two more scores in the third to put the game out of reach. It took the half's first possession and marched 67 yards, highlighted by Stafford's 22-yard run on 3rd-and-4 from the Georgia 39-yard line. Brown finished off the march with a four-yard touchdown run to push the edge to 31-9.
The Bulldogs took an edge on field position as the quarter wore on, eventually starting a drive at the Catamounts 33-yard line. Moreno carried four straight plays following an incomplete pass and Brannan Southerland capped the drive with a one-yard scoring plunge with 1:01 left in the period.
Joe Cox's 34-yard touchdown strike to Demiko Goodman pushed the advantage to 45-9 with 12:53 left in regulation. Western Carolina capped the scoring with Malone's two-yard touchdown run.
Brown ran the ball 10 times for 42 yards...Cox completed 3-of-6 passes for 48 yards in the victory...Six different Catamounts caught passes in the loss...Georgia now leads the all-time series, 2-0...Georgia plays at Alabama next Saturday, while Western Carolina hosts Presbyterian.
09/15 19:58:16 ET