McKenzie’s hamstring seems fine: 77-yard punt return for TD

UGA's Isaiah McKenzie returns a punt 77 yards for a touchdown against Vanderbilt. (Brant Sanderlin/ AJC)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Isaiah McKenzie, who didn’t return punts in Georgia’s season opener because of a hamstring injury, appeared back at full speed in Game 2 on Saturday.

He returned a punt 77 yards for a first-quarter touchdown against Vanderbilt, fielding the ball at the Georgia 23-yard line, averting an initial tackler, darting through three defenders before mid-field, avoiding another tackler around the Vanderbilt 35-yard line and breaking free toward the Georgia sideline and into the end zone.

“I wanted to go to the house, so I had to make that happen somehow,” McKenzie said. “So break a tackle here and there and get in the open field.”

It was the third career punt return for a touchdown for McKenzie, a sophomore from Miami. He tied the UGA single-season record for most punt returns for a touchdown last season with two. He also returned one kickoff for a score last season.

“They believe in me to make big plays, and that’s what I’m (going) to do,” McKenzie said.

Georgia coach Mark Richt held McKenzie out of returns in the Sept. 5 opener against Louisiana-Monroe because the speedster missed about two weeks during preseason practice with a pulled hamstring. He also injured the hamstring during spring practice.

“I think with coach (Mark) Richt giving me a break last week, I got a little bit more healing in,” said McKenzie, adding that the hamstring is “now 100 percent.”

Said Richt: “When he gets the ball in his hand, there’s a good shot at him getting a lot of yards, if not a touchdown.”

The radio call of the return by Scott Howard can be heard here.



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