5:30 PM ET, August 30, 2014
Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
Todd Gurley gains Georgia-record 293 all-purpose yards in 45-21 rout
ATHENS, Ga. -- Todd Gurley felt strong and healthy.
Boy, did it show.
In a performance that will surely cast him as an early favorite for the Heisman Trophy, Gurley scored four touchdowns and set a school record with 293 all-purpose yards, leading No. 12 Georgia to a 45-21 victory over No. 16 Clemson on Saturday night.
"I think he's the best player in America," Georgia coach Mark Richt said, "or at least one of them."
More from ESPN.com
Mark Richt's Bulldogs pulled away in the second half at home behind a powerful offensive line and a strong group of running backs, winning the season opener against Clemson. Story
Gurley ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns. He returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score. He made the most of his limited touches on a sweltering night between the hedges, averaging 17.2 yards every time he got his hands on the ball and breaking Rodney Hampton's mark of 290 all-purpose yards, set in 1987.
"Hopefully I can get better," Gurley said. "I don't want to stay the same every week. That's not a good thing."
The junior running back is looking to shine after an injury-plagued sophomore campaign. He suffered a quadriceps injury that limited his carries in a season-opening loss to Clemson. Later in the year, a sprained ankle caused him to miss three games and left him just shy of 1,000 yards rushing.
There was nothing to fret about at the start of 2014.
"Having those nagging leg injuries, man, that holds you back," Gurley said. "I didn't have those tonight. It's always good to start the season off healthy."
Georgia broke open a game that was tied 21-all at halftime, shutting down Clemson and a fast-break offense that didn't look nearly as effective without two of its departed stars, record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins. The Tigers were held to one first down and 15 yards in the second half.
"We've got to prepare harder and get better," said Cole Stoudt, Clemson's new quarterback. "I've got to keep improving myself and get better."
Good Enough On His Own
Georgia RB Todd Gurley put up numbers that were good enough to beat No. 16 Clemson on his own Saturday night in the Bulldogs' 24-point win:
|Rush Yds||Kick ret.||TDs|
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
Hutson Mason turned in a nondescript performance in the first game of his only full season as Georgia's starting quarterback. The fifth-year senior, an understudy to Aaron Murray throughout his career, completed 18 of 26 for 131 yards and didn't do much damage downfield without speedy receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley.
It didn't really matter. Gurley pretty much finished off Clemson by himself.
He got rolling with a 23-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Then he electrified the crowd of more than 92,000 by taking a kickoff at the goal line, bursting through a gap straight up the middle of the field, and leaving everyone in his wake with a stunning display of speed.
Mindful of Gurley's injuries last season and not wanting to tire him out in the humid conditions, Georgia limited him to four carries, one pass reception (for a 5-yard loss) and that dynamic kickoff return in the first half.
The strategy paid off over the final two quarters.
Gurley just kept right on running like he wasn't even tired, while Clemson found it increasingly difficult to bring him down. In the final period, he pushed Georgia to a 31-21 lead with an 18-yard touchdown run, breaking a tackle at the line and cutting to his left to reach the end zone without being touched again.
Then, picking his way through a hole with a hand on the back of a lineman, Gurley suddenly broke free down the right sideline on his 15th, and final, carry of the night for 51-yard touchdown that turned a game that was close most of the way into a blowout.
"Gurley was obviously as good as it gets," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "Gurley, and all their backs, were special tonight."
Grubb also scored in the fourth quarter on a 47-yard run that looked downright Gurley-esque, breaking tackles and pulling away from the secondary with a burst down the sidelines. He had 70 yards on four carries. Michel turned in 33 yards on six carries as the Bulldogs piled up 328 rushing yards on a defense that was supposed to be the Tigers' strength, returning most of its front seven from last season.
Stoudt was just 15 of 28 for 130 yards with an interception, which will surely lead to calls for the Tigers to give more playing time to touted freshman Deshaun Watson. In limited snaps, he guided the Tigers to a touchdown with a 30-yard pass to Charone Peake.
"It's never as bad as it may seem," Swinney said. "For us, the season starts tomorrow."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... After three quarters of lead changes, the Georgia RBs took over, ripping long runs for 21 unanswered points.
Gameball goes to... Todd Gurley was everywhere, rushing for 198 yards and three touchdowns and adding a 100-yard kick return.
Stat of the game... Gurley's 293 total yards for the game broke Rodney Hampton's 26-year record of 290.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-21||5-13|
|4th Down Conversions||2-2||1-1|
|TD||10:46||D.J. Howard 1 Yd Run (Ammon Lakip Kick)Watch Highlight||7||0|
|TD||6:36||Todd Gurley 23 Yd Run (Marshall Morgan Kick)Watch Highlight||7||7|
|TD||0:35||Hutson Mason 2 Yd Run (Marshall Morgan Kick)Watch Highlight||7||14|
|TD||13:52||Charone Peake 30 Yd pass from Deshaun Watson (Ammon Lakip Kick)Watch Highlight||14||14|
|TD||7:28||C.J. Davidson 1 Yd Run (Ammon Lakip Kick)Watch Highlight||21||14|
|TD||7:15||Todd Gurley 100 Yd Kickoff Return (Marshall Morgan Kick)Watch Highlight||21||21|
|FG||11:27||Marshall Morgan 27 Yd Field Goal Watch Highlight||21||24|
|TD||10:26||Todd Gurley 18 Yd Run (Marshall Morgan Kick)Watch Highlight||21||31|
|TD||8:53||Nick Chubb 47 Yd Run (Marshall Morgan Kick)Watch Highlight||21||38|
|TD||7:34||Todd Gurley 51 Yd Run (Marshall Morgan Kick)Watch Highlight||21||45|
This is the 2nd-straight season that Clemson and Georgia are tied at 21 at halftime.
Todd Gurley (UGA): 1st FBS player with 3 rush TD & punt/kick ret TD against a ranked opp since UCLA's Maurice Drew against No. 10 California in 2005
The Clemson offense struggled a bit after halftime Saturday against Georgia...[+]
Clemson Saturday vs Georgia
Todd Gurley ties a Georgia record that he already shared with a 100-yard kickoff return TD. He joins Brandon Boykin as the only player in school history with multiple such returns.
Todd Gurley's 198 Rush yds, 100 kick return yds and minus-5 receiving yards gave him 293 for the game against Clemson. That breaks Rodney Hampton's school record of 290, set in 1987.[+]
Most All-Purpose Yards In a Game - Georgia History
ESPN Stats & Information