ATHENS — Isaiah McKenzie thought he was in the end zone when he came down with the catch in the third quarter of Georgia’s 35-21 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday.
He believed he had scored his third touchdown of the game.
Then he realized he was 3 yards short.
“I was like, ‘OK, somebody else is going to score,’ ” he said.
McKenzie would have liked to have added a receiving touchdown to his first-quarter scores against Louisiana-Lafayette, but he’ll settle for a Georgia record.
He set the school mark with his fifth career punt return for a touchdown — his first this year — breaking a tie with Buzy Rosenberg, who played from 1970-72.
The 82-yard punt return gave Georgia a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
“I’ve been thinking about that (record) since I heard about me being close to breaking it,” said McKenzie, a junior. “After (he scored), the guys were like, ‘Yeah, you broke the record.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, but we’ve got to keep going and put more numbers up.’ ”
McKenzie had scored on punt returns twice in each of his first two seasons at Georgia, but has struggled in that part of his game as he’s become more involved in the offense this fall.
He was fifth in the SEC with an average of 8.1 yards a return entering Saturday after averaging 12.1 yards in each of his first two years. And he’s had a tough time judging punts and catching them this season.
Everything worked to perfection on this one as he caught the punt and had plenty of protection to go 82 yards.
“On that punt return, we called ‘Wall Right’ and when I got it, I had to make a few guys miss,” McKenzie said. “My guys did a great job up front, holding blocks and blocking everybody they can so I can get into the end zone.”
That score was just six minutes after his first one, a 55-yard run on the first play of the game.
McKenzie finished with 50 yards rushing, two catches for 32 yards and the lone return.
“He does the right things,” coach Kirby Smart said. “If we block it right and set him up, he gets positive runs. He’s a tough kid and we’ve gotten a lot out of him.”