Written by Susan Erdelyi
Jacksonville , FL - Much of the pregame talk was about the shifting coaching staff for Georgia and the departure of Penn State’s offensive coordinator. In the end, it came down to the players on the field and the Bulldogs got the best of the Nittany Lions 24-17.
After a shaky start, Dawg’s QB Grayson Lambert (6’5, 220 Jr.) connected a 17-yard touchdown pass to WR Terry Godwin (5/11, 174 Fr.) late in the 2ndquarter. Georgia’s first touchdown, however, came when Malcolm Mitchell (6’1, 195) of Valdosta Ga. caught a 44-yard pass, not from the quarterback, but from wide receiver Terry Godwin. Post-game, Godwin beamed, “I threw my first college touchdown!”
Penn State, no doubt, felt like a visiting team at a Georgia home game in front of the crowd of 58,212 in Jacksonville, Florida. Missing its Offensive Coordinator and losing its starting quarterback Junior Christian Hackenberg (6’4, 228) to a 2nd quarter shoulder injury, Penn State struggled to find it’s way offensively until late in the third quarter.
Ultimately, the Nittany Lions scored its first touchdown early in the 4th quarter and its second with 6:14 of time remaining in the game when substitute QB Trace McSorley connected with #5, DaeSean Hamilton (6’1, 212, Jr.) who managed a spectacular catch on a sharp 20-yard touchdown pass.
Penn State almost got the opportunity to win in the end when Georgia opted for a first down rather than attempting what appeared to be an easy 30-yard field goal attempt. With the game at 24-17, a Georgia field goal would have put Georgia up by 10 with only two minutes remaining. After the game, Georgia Interim Head Coach Bryan McClendon explained that problems with his kicker led to his decision to go for it on 4th down rather than attempting the field goal.
Penn State Coach Franklin, in his 2nd season as head coach over the Nittany Lions, credited Georgia with the win and blamed much of the loss on Penn State’s “slow start.” No doubt, Christian Hackenberg’s injury did not help. Whether Hackenberg will return for his senior year at Penn State or go to the NFL remains an unanswered question. What was answered was the fact that second string QB Trace McSorley gave his team confidence in his ability to lead, according to WR Chris Godwin (6/1, 208, So), “Trace is confident and we had confidence in him. Especially after he made the plays.”
For his part, Georgia Interim Head Coach McClendon is 1-0 in bowl games. McClendon praised the players for the victory and said that [leaving Georgia] was bittersweet because, as coaches “you pour so much energy in these kid’s lives”. Asked about his own aspirations as he moves on to coach at South Carolina, McClendon agreed that he would like to be a head coach “down the road” and noted that “Wherever I’m working, they’re going to get all I’ve got.”
Today on the field in Jacksonville, the Georgia Bulldogs gave it all they had and in the end – it was enough. Georgia wins against Penn State. 24-17.
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