NCAA

Georgia upbeat after 45-31 win over Nebraska

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Georgia upbeat after 45-31 win over Nebraska

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) For each of its previous two bowl trips, Georgia left the field shrouded in the uncomfortable feelings of a season-ending loss.

While this offseason could certainly feature some big changes to its roster, it will at least begin on a high note.

A month removed from missing a berth in the BCS title game because of a narrow loss to Alabama, the sixth-ranked Bulldogs rode junior quarterback Aaron Murray's five touchdown passes to a 45-31 victory over No. 23 Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday.

Murray and fellow underclassman Jarvis Jones could certainly jump to the NFL this offseason, but for one more game Bulldogs' fans got to see a championship-caliber team intact.

``Last year we went 0-2 and win 10 in a row, but we can't finish that season out. And this year we had another really good season, win the East, and we didn't win the SEC championship, but we certainly performed a lot better,'' Bulldogs' coach Mark Richt said. ``So now we wanted to win this bowl, to just maybe prove to ourselves that we are one of the better teams in the country.''

Murray's five touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, set a Georgia bowl record.

He shook off a pair of first-half interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and passed for 427 yards - also a Bulldogs' bowl record - against the nation's top-ranked passing defense. He was the game's most valuable player on the way to earning his first bowl victory at Georgia.

Georgia (12-2) also reached 12 wins for the third time in school history.

``I don't know what it's like to head into an offseason with a win,'' Murray said. ``It's a great feeling to get a win. It's great for the seniors, who have meant so much to this team. They've done a great job of leading this team the whole season.

``To get 12 wins. ... That's something special.''

He downplayed questions about his future.

``The future - I don't know what's going to happen,'' he said. ``I'm just enjoying the moment right now.''

Jones said any regrets about the Alabama loss are gone now.

``I think it speaks for itself,'' he said. ``The SEC game was a couple of weeks ago. We did what we can and we lost. We came up kind of short. And it was definitely a game that we had the opportunity to win. But you can't take away from the day. We came out here and we executed.

``We gave our seniors the opportunity to leave here with a win and a bowl game, and it's definitely something we look forward to and something we'll remember for a long time.''

Nebraska (10-4) lost its third consecutive bowl game, and finished the season with two straight woeful defensive performances, losing the Big Ten championship game 70-31.

The Cornhuskers led 24-23 at the half, but committed two of their three turnovers in the final 30 minutes.

Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez had two interceptions and two touchdown passes and Rex Burkhead rushed for 140 yards in his final college game.

But Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said the efficiency of Murray and Georgia in converting 12 of 17 third-down opportunities was too much to overcome.

``I thought the plan was good,'' Pelini said of his team's defensive scheme. ``Third down hurt us, obviously. When were in position, it was man-on-man down the field. We needed to make some of those plays and we didn't. And, you know, again, that cost us a football game.''

Nebraska drops to 12-7 against SEC opponents in bowl games.

Richt, trailed by questions about his team's focus following its loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game, thinks his team made a statement.

``We wanted to win this game to prove to ourselves that we are one of the better teams in the country,'' he said. ``I think our guys did a good job of sucking it up when they were tired. ... But when you make a big play here and there, it gives you a little more energy as well. ... We made enough big plays at the right moment.''

Nebraska finished with 443 yards of total offense, but the Bulldogs' defense was stingy when it needed to be.

They sacked Martinez five times, with junior All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones notching two to finish with a record 14.5 for the season. Damian Swann had both of Georgia's interceptions.

Murray found Keith Marshall free near the sideline for a 24-yard touchdown pass that gave Georgia a 38-31 lead with 14:52 to play in the game.

Following a Nebraska punt, Murray then hit Chris Conley for a short pass over the middle and he outran the Cornhuskers defenders for an 87-yard score.

Conley also scored on a 49-yard touchdown catch that tied the game in the third quarter.

Nebraska clung to a 24-23 lead at the half, taking back the advantage late in the second quarter on a 16-yard strike from Martinez to Burkhead.

After a pair of early turnovers, Murray seemed to be getting Georgia's offense back on track, as the Bulldogs punctuated a four-play, 38-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown run by Todd Gurley to make it 23-17.

Both Bulldogs' turnovers came on Murray interceptions as the nation's top-ranked passing defense crowded Georgia's receivers and disguised its coverage schemes.

Gurley helped open things up, though, rushing for 81 yards in the opening 30 minutes.

Nebraska also allowed Georgia three sacks, thwarting some promising drives.

Nebraska's defense didn't need long to force the game's first turnover, picking off Murray on Georgia's opening drive of the game.

The Cornhuskers went three-and-out on their first possession.

But Brett Maher's punt was blocked by the Bulldogs' Shawn Williams. There was a scramble for the ball in the end zone before it trickled out of the back for a safety.

The Bulldogs then went up 9-0 their ensuing possession following the free kick, capping an 80-yard drive on Murray's 29-yard touchdown pass to tight end Arthur Lynch.

Nebraska's offense finally got going on its next possession, scoring on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Martinez to Jamal Turner.

The Cornhuskers' defense made it 14-9 when linebacker Will Compton came up with their second interception of Murray and returned it 24 yards for the score.

``I'm real proud of Aaron and job he did,'' Richt said. ``(He) had a couple of things go not exactly the way he wanted them to go. Had a couple of picks early. Just hung in there, very resilient and finished.''

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/khightower .

A win’s a win: Virginia improves to 4-0 after escaping a scare by ODU

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A win’s a win: Virginia improves to 4-0 after escaping a scare by ODU

The Virginia Cavaliers were given quite a scare on Saturday but managed to battle back from a 17-0 deficit for the hard-fought 28-17 win over Old Dominion.

In the last 15 seasons, the Cavaliers have trailed by double digits going into halftime in 38 games. Before Saturday, they came back to win only one of those games. Virginia improved to 2-37 after rallying to defeat the Monarchs and are 4-0 on the season for the first time since 2004.

The good: The defensive recovery

It’s hard to win when you spot the other team 17 points. UVA needed its defense to step up after a horrific start and they did, not allowing a single point the rest of the game after the Monarchs took a 17-0 lead.

After the first three drives, Virginia forced six punts, two turnovers on downs and a pick-six and allowed only 94 total yards of offense.

That’s one hell of an adjustment by the defense and it saved the game as the offense sputtered for most of the night.

The bad: The start

As good as the defense was for most of the game, they sure were terrible at the star. Virginia dug themselves a 17-0 hole as ODU marched down the field in each of their first three possessions. The Monarchs got the ball to start and went 74 yards in 11 plays before settling for a field goal. The next drive they sent 48 yards in five plays for a touchdown and they recorded a second touchdown after than it nine plays and 89 yards.

That’s three drives, 17 points and 211 yards of offense.  Yikes.

The ugly: Bryce Perkins’ injury scare

After a fantastic 15 yard run in which Perkins turned what looked like a sure loss into a nice gain, the very next play was almost a disaster. The snap took Perkins by surprise and he scrambled back after the ball. As he tried to get on top of it, he was obliterated by Keion White. Virginia eventually was able to pounce on the loose ball and the play was negated by an offside penalty, but Perkins stayed down on the field.

After several minutes that felt like an absolute eternity to all Cavalier fans, Perkins was able to get up and trot off the field. He sat out the one required play before returning to the game, thus disaster was averted for UVA.

Perkins was the Cavaliers’ most dynamic player yet again on the night as he led the team in rushing with 35 yards, threw for an additional 175 yards and recorded two touchdowns.

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3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

WASHINGTON -- In a reversal of last season’s playoff, the Capitals dominant forecheck suffocated the Carolina Hurricanes for much of the game on Friday in a 3-2 preseason win. The game was the final preseason game in Washington as the Caps’ three remaining contests all will come on the road.

Here are three players who impressed in the home preseason finale.

Ilya Samsonov

Samsonov faced only 15 shots from a clearly outmatched Hurricanes roster, but he looked impressive in the few times he was tested. The save of the night came in the second period when he denied Julien Gauthier on a breakaway.

Gauthier attempted the old Peter Forsberg move and skated to his right while trying to craftily tuck the puck in to the left. Samsonov slid with Gauthier, but stuck out his stick to deny the shot and make the tremendous save.

Samsonov continued to demonstrate his comfort playing the puck with his stick as he also denied a scoring opportunity with a well-timed poke check and was always quick to play the puck when it came behind the goal line.

One area in which he was not comfortable was the glove. There were multiple occasions in which he was able to get a glove on the puck, but was not able to catch it creating dangerous opportunities for Carolina’s offense.

The Hurricanes managed only seven shots on goal through the first two periods, but managed some more pressure in the third. The shutout bid was ended in the third when Brock McGinn followed up his own rebound to score Carolina’s first goal of the game. The second goal came on a fluky bounce off the backboards that Janne Kuokkanen was able to whack behind Samsonov before he could get a glove to it.

While Todd Reirden likely hoped Samsonov would be more tested than he was, he was up to the task with 13 saves.

Brian Pinho

The Caps recorded three goals on the night and Pinho had two of them.  In the first period, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby created a turnover on the forecheck. Feeling the pressure, Fredrik Claesson tried a hopeful clear that was cut off at the blue line by Pinho who skated in and tucked the puck through the 5-hole of goalie Anton Forsberg. He scored again in the third period on the power play when his shot deflected off of Jake Bean and took a favorable bounce up before dropping into the net.

Pinho led the Capitals with five points in three games at the 2019 Prospect Showcase, but at 24 years old, he would be expected to play well. He faced slightly better competition on Saturday and still was able to produce with two goals on the night.

Richard Panik

One of the newest Caps, Panik has looked extremely comfortable in both of his preseason games thus far. He was again strong on the penalty kill where he logged 1:35 of ice time. He also looked strong offensively.

Panik played very heavy below the goal line which suits the Caps’ offensive cycle the team likes to utilize. He also showed good vision as, in the third period, he was able to fight off a check and literally kicked the puck out to a wide-open Tavis Boyd in the slot.

With Panik and Carl Hagelin together, the Caps should have a much more formidable penalty kill this season.

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