ATHENS, Ga. – Outside linebacker Ricky Lowe returned a fumble for a touchdown and the Red team stopped a late two-point conversion to hold on for a 32-31 victory in the G-Day Game on Saturday in front 44,117 fans at Sanford Stadium.
Outside linebacker Reuben Faloughi knocked the ball away from quarterback Parker Moore and Lowe grabbed the ball out of midair. He didn't break stride until he crossed the goal line 62 yards later and with 1:40 remaining. Kicker Jamie Lindley added the extra point, which proved to be critical to the Red team.
Tight end Jay Rome hauled in a 66-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Christian LeMay for the Black team with 59 seconds left. The Black team was forced to go for two in an attempt to the win the game, but LeMay's pass fell incomplete.
"It was a great day for Georgia," Coach Mark Richt said. "I feel like everyone enjoyed the game. I thought there were a lot of offensive plays that were made today. When you look at it, the defense was scoring points, too. I thought both sides of the ball played well. It was exciting."
LeMay went 7-of-10 for 154 yards and a touchdown, while Welch was 5-of-11 for 48 yards. Tailback Richard Samuel rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
For the Red team, quarterback Aaron Murray was 7-of-17 for 112 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Hutson Mason played for each team and was a combined 9-of-12 for 133 yards and a score. Receivers Tavarres King and Rhett McGowan hauled in the touchdown passes. King also caught a two-point conversion pass. Tailback Ken Malcome had two touchdowns among his 32 yards, and tailback Isaiah Crowell posted 39 yards.
Linebacker Ramik Wilson paced the Red team with seven tackles, including a sack, and he returned an interception 19 yards. Linebackers Kosta Vavlas and Amarlo Herrera each added six tackles. Safety Austin Herod added an interception for the Red team.
For the Black team, linebacker Chase Vasser led the way with five tackles and a pass breakup. Linebacker Alec Ogletree, outside linebacker Cornelius Washington, safety Bacarri Rambo and cornerback Devin Bowman all added four tackles. Ogletree had a 28-yard interception return.
Adam Erickson's 46-yard field goal for the Black team provided the only points in the first quarter.
Malcome put the Red team up 7-3 at the 11:09 mark of the second quarter as he ran in from six yards out. Lindley tacked on the PAT for the Red team, then booted a 26-yard field goal at the 9:01 mark for a 10-3 halftime edge.
Murray opened the second half with a 33-yard touchdown to King for the Red team. Lindley added the PAT for a 17-3 lead. The Black team responded with Mason's 7-yard touchdown pass to McGowan. Kicker Patrick Beless had the extra point to make it 17-10 with 7:42 to go. Samuel's two-yard run and Erickson's PAT for the Black at the 2:58 mark knotted the game at 17-17.
The Black pulled ahead in the fourth quarter when defensive end Garrison Smith fell on a fumble in the end zone. A two-point conversion run by Erickson when the Red team didn't defend the kick made the score 25-17 at the 9:46 mark. Four minutes later, Malcome scored on fourth-and-one and King hauled in a two-point conversion from Mason to retie the game at 25-25, setting up the fireworks in the final two minutes.