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Sun Devils fall to Bulldogs


September 26, 2009

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Blair Walsh kicked a 37-yard field goal on the final play and No. 21 Georgia escaped an upset, beating Arizona State 20-17 Saturday on another big night for A.J. Green.

Green caught eight passes for 153 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown in the first quarter that sparked Georgia to an early 14-3 lead. After the Sun Devils rallied, the sophomore receiver played a little defense - getting his left elbow on Bobby Wenzig's 38-yard field goal attempt that could have put the Sun Devils ahead with 4:21 remaining.

Green, who had a career-best 159 yards receiving against Arizona State a year ago, came up with a 36-yard grab for his final reception of the night, which set up Walsh's winning field goal.

Georgia (3-1) barely held up its end of next week's Southeastern Conference showdown against No. 7 LSU, which had survived an upset bid of its own earlier in the day to beat Mississippi State 30-26.

A driving rain that swept through Athens before the game had moved out by the second half, so that couldn't be blamed for Georgia allowing Arizona State to get back in the game.

The Bulldogs committed three turnovers after halftime, two of which led to touchdowns for Arizona State (2-1). The Sun Devils led 17-14 heading to the fourth quarter after Jarrell Holman returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown.

Joe Cox, coming off a five-touchdown performance the previous week against Arkansas, threw another interception with 5 1/2 minutes remaining to put the Sun Devils at the Georgia 20 with the score tied at 17.

The Sun Devils failed to move the ball, calling on Wenzig to attempt a go-ahead kick. The freshman handled the duties because of an injury to regular kicker Thomas Weber, who is expected to miss five or six games with a groin ailment.

Wenzig made his first attempt, a 43-yarder in the opening quarter, but he got off a low kick with the game hanging in the balance. The 6-foot-4 Green leaped up and felt it strike his elbow, the ball fluttering harmlessly into the end zone, far short of the goal posts.

Green wasn't done. After Cox went to freshman Rantavious Wooten for an 11-yard completion on third-and-4, Green took off down the left sideline and made another huge play over Pierre Singfield. The 36-yard pass carried the Bulldogs to the Arizona State 22, and all Georgia had to do from there was run down the clock and leave the ball in the middle of the field for Walsh's attempt.

The sophomore had not missed all season, and he improved to 9 for 9 with a field goal right down the middle as time ran out. The Bulldogs celebrated near the center of the field, while several Arizona State players collapsed on their side of the line. Holman flung away his helmet in disgust.

Dimitri Nance rushed for 92 yards and also scored on a 6-yard pass from Danny Sullivan, a score that was set by Holman's recovery of Caleb King's fumble at the Georgia 37.

Three plays later, Holman picked off a pass from Cox at the 47, bounced off one attempted tackle and weaved his way to the end zone for the TD that put the Sun Devils ahead for the first time.

Georgia came back to tie it on Walsh's 21-yard field goal in the opening minutes of the final quarter. The Bulldogs passed up their first chance at the go-ahead kick - going for it on fourth and less than a yard on the Arizona State 28. Fred Munzenmaier, who had scored in the first quarter on a 2-yard run that put Georgia ahead 14-3, was stuffed for no gain.

But Walsh and the Bulldogs got another chance. This time, they made the most of it - thanks to Green.