NEW ORLEANS — Georgia ended its season with a big letdown in the city known as “The Big Easy” on Tuesday night.
Nothing came easy for the Bulldogs (11-3) in the Sugar Bowl. No. 15 Texas (10-4) handed No. 5 Georgia a 28-21 loss in front of 71,449 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Quarterback Jake Fromm (20-of-34, 212 yards, 3 TDs, 1 interception) was unable to get in sync with his receivers against Texas’ zone coverage.
The Longhorns defensive backs closed quickly on UGA receivers on a handful of occasions, knocking the ball from their hands before they could pull it in.
Fromm started the game completing 7-of-9 passes for 58 yards and a touchdown, but he was only 4 of his next 12 for 40 yards with an interception as the Longhorns pulled away with a three-touchdown lead.
“Not what you expect to see from a guy who came into the game with a nearly 70-percent completion percentage,” said ESPN analyst Todd Blackledge.
Fromm and the Bulldogs got it going in the fourth quarter in their two-minute offense with a six-play, 67-yard touchdown drive to draw to 28-14 with 10:25 left.
But on the next possession, Fromm was sacked on the first play, and Georgia went three-and-out, essentially ending comeback hopes.
Indeed, the Bulldogs final touchdown came with 14 seconds left on a 5-yard pass from Fromm to D’Andre Swift.
The Bulldogs played without Thorpe Award winner Deandre Baker at cornerback, team sacks leader and All-SEC selection D’Andre Walker (groin) and FWAA Freshman All-American candidate Jordan Davis at defensive tackle (back).
• Junior tailback Brian Herrien scored the opening TD for Georgia on a 17-yard catch after lining up in the slot. Herrien also came through in short yardage early on the same drive, gaining 2 yards on a third-and-1 at the UGA 34 in the second quarter. Herrien followed with a physical 8-yard run, and he later converted with a third down catch in the third quarter.
• Junior Elijah Holyfield went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 12 carries for 62 yards. Holyfield provided several strong runs, but Georgia couldn’t establish any sort of consistency on the ground.
• Sophomore defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt had his moments with six tackles and 1.5 sacks. Wyatt came up with a fourth down sack to force a Texas punt with Georgia trailing 28-14 and 7:30 remaining.
• Freshman safety Divaad Wilson saw his first action of the season, overcoming a knee injury. Wilson had four tackles, a tackle-for-loss and a pass break-up. The new redshirt rule, which allows a freshman to take part in up to four games at any point during the season without losing a year of eligibility, made Wilson’s playing time possible.
• Georgia fans were out-numbered by Texas fans at the Sugar Bowl approximately 2-to-1. It was still an impressive showing when one considers the Bulldogs brought at least 20,000 to LSU earlier this season, with the majority of those fans visiting or staying in New Orleans.
• The Georgia passing game was off, with Fromm not at his best and the UGA receivers dropping three passes in the first half, and at least two more in the second half. More than any other part of the team, the layoff appeared to affect the timing of the passing game.
• Safety Richard LeCounte had his share of missed open-field tackles, including a key miss on Texas QB Sam Ehlinger’s fourth-down run in the fourth quarter. It’s a sure bet LeCounte will look to get bigger, stronger and working on his tackling in the offseason.
• The Georgia punt game was subpar again, a low snap was compounded by freshman punter Jake Camarda fielding the snap with a knee on the ground at the UGA 27. That play led directly to a Texas field goal in the opening quarter. Camarda’s next punt went 11 yards and gave the Longhorns the ball at the 50.
• D’Andre Swift had a tough start, fumbling the ball away at the UGA 12-yard line leading to a Texas touchdown, and fumbling again in the second quarter, though, this time, his teammates bailed him out with a recovery for a 3-yard loss. Swift finished with 12 yards on eight carries and five catches for 30 yards and a touchdown.