ATLANTA - If Saturday night's game against Georgia Tech is any indication, Georgia's running game is in excellent hands heading into 2010.
Considering the way Caleb King and Washaun Ealey ran roughshod through the Yellow Jackets during the Bulldogs' 30-24 win, it's at least an encouraging sign.
The two backs combined for 349 yards, with Ealey rushing for a career-high 183 yards on 20 carries with King chipping in with 18 carries for a career-best 166 and two touchdowns, including a 75-yard run.
"I never would have predicted that. I know we wanted to run the ball, I know we wanted to control the clock as much as possible," head coach Mark Richt said. "We wanted to keep the ball away from Georgia Tech as much as we could. They're a team that grinds the clock and has long drives. We wanted to at least do a decent job in that area. I never would have dreams we would have done quite that well."
The results were truly outstanding.
Georgia's 345 yards were the most under Richt in his nine years at Georgia, besting the previous high of 328 set in 2007.
Both players were magnificent.
At this time last season, the freshman from Stillmore was carrying his prep team ECI in the Class A state playoffs. Saturday night, he carried the Bulldogs to their improbable victory over the Yellow Jackets.
"We had some holes open up early and it didn't take us long to see that they really didn't want to tackle us," Ealey said. "Coach (Mike) Bobo and Coach (Bryan) McClendon had been telling us all year not to let one man tackle us, and tonight not many did."
It didn't take Ealey long to show the Yellow Jackets that he was going to be a load to handle.
Along with King, Ealey took advantage of superb blocking up front to roll down the field. A 35-yard run by Ealey to the 2 set up King's first touchdown, a two-yard run with 9:29 left in the first.
Georgia's 10-play drive did not feature a single pass.
"I kind of thought Coach Bobo was going to sneak one or two in there but he never did," offensive lineman Clint Boling said. "He never did, but I'm glad he didn't. That first drive gave us all a lot of confidence."
Ealey went over the 100-yard mark with a 34-yard gain at the 10:31 mark of the second quarter to give him 122 yards on just nine carries to that point. The only other Bulldog to go over 100 yards this year was Richard Samuel (104) against Arkansas. Ealey finished the first half with 139 yards on 12 carries for the Bulldogs who rushed for 204 yards in the first half alone.
Much of King's yardage came on his 75-yard run early in the third which answered a long score by the Yellow Jackets when Josh Nesbitt hooked up with Demaryius Thomas on a 76-yard catch and run.
"That was like the old days," laughed King, who broke through the line of scrimmage before out-racing two defensive backs to the end zone. "I haven't had one like that in a while."
Richt agreed King's play may have been the turning point in the game.
"It probably was. They chose to play a lot of zero coverage. They put just about everybody at linebacker level," he said. "If you spit it through there, then there's no one to clean up, and that's how that thing split out."
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