Bulldogs Pull Away From TCU in Liberty Bowl
MEMPHIS, TN -- It was difficult to find a running game early on, as Georgia (8-5) was held to just 49 rushing yards in the first half by the Horned Frogs. But that changed due to efforts by running back Nick Chubb who exploded in the second as the Bulldogs came out with 199 rushing yards.
Locked down and held in check for most of the game, Chubb ended the third quarter with a 48-yard run that put Georgia within field goal range. A successful field goal attempt made by Rodrigo Blankenship placed the Bulldogs ahead 24-23 with 13:27 remaining.
Chubb then rushed for 57 yards in the final quarter, finishing with 142 yards and a touchdown on just 17 attempts. His one touchdown came with 2:48 remaining in the game as he ran for 13 yards into the end zone.
His performance moved his career total to 3,424 rushing yards, surpassing Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley, who held the record with 3,285 yards, to become the second all-time leading rusher in Georgia history. Herschel Walker currently holds the school record with 5,259 yards from 1980-82.
Entering the day with the SEC having a 1-4 bowl record, Georgia restored hope into the Southeastern Conference. This was a major setback for a league that set a record for bowl victories after going 9-2 last year in bowl games.
"We never stopped," said Chubb after being asked of his team's performance. "Nobody on our offense stopped. We kept pounding."
He and Sony Michel combined for 229 yards and two touchdowns to come from behind to beat TCU 31-23 in the fourth quarter of the Liberty Bowl. Michel ran for 87 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries with his touchdown catch being for 33 yards. Both players plan to return to Georgia for their senior seasons.
As for the Horned Frogs, they have struggled as it has been a losing season for them. TCU is 6-7 for the season, as it has been the school's third losing year in 16 full seasons with Gary Patterson as head coach.
Coach Patterson said his young team learned a valuable lesson after Friday's loss. TCU led 16-7 in the first half and had a 23-21 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. However, mistakes and missed opportunities cost the Horned Frogs their bowl title. "It was a game that we could have easily won, but you've got to make plays," said Patterson. "For us, it's kind of been the story of our season."
Quarterback Kenny Hill threw a pair of touchdown passes to John Diarse and ran for a third score, but his struggle with consistency while laying with a bad ankle worked against TCU. Trying to elude pressure from the defense, he was sacked five times and lost a fumble.
Georgia's Trenton Thompson sacked Hill on many third down situations. He set a Liberty Bowl record with three sacks, and finished with eight tackles and 3.5 TFL. Despite Nick Chubb's stellar second half performance, Thompson was named the game's Most Valuable Player as well as the Defensive Player as well.
Immediately after, TCU's Brandon Hatfield missed two field goals. The first was a missed extra point attempt and a 41-yard field goal. With 7:57 remaining, he was wide right on a 47-yard field goal attempt that would have put them ahead.
After Hatfield's missed field goal, Georgia went on a 70-yard touchdown drive to increase the lead to 31-23. Deandre Baker broke up a pass from TCU's Hill on a fourth-and-4 from the Georgia 44 yard line with 1:14 remaining, clinching the victory for Georgia.
Georgia's quarterback Jacob Eason was 12 of 21 for 164 yards with two touchdown asses. Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie finished with four catches for 103 yards, including a 77-yard catch that set them up for a touchdown. He announced after the game that he's passing up his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.