for this game

Moreno powers Georgia over Auburn

Nov 11, 2007 - 2:34 AM ATHENS, Georgia (Ticker) -- With its conference title hopes in danger of slipping away, Georgia turned to its talented freshman running back.

Knowshon Moreno rushed for two touchdowns in the third quarter Saturday as the 10th-ranked Bulldogs rallied for a 45-20 Southeastern Conference victory over No. 18 Auburn.

Auburn (7-4, 4-3 SEC West) erased a 14-point deficit early in the second quarter to grab a 20-17 lead on Wes Byrum's 33-yard field goal with 6:47 remaining in the third period.

"Auburn scored 17 unanswered points and took the lead," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "Once they took the lead, a switch flipped on and we started getting after them finally."

That's when Moreno took over, as he capped Georgia's next two possessions with touchdowns, scoring on runs of 24 and three yards to help the Bulldogs (8-2, 5-2 SEC East) break open a close game.

"We are very excited right now," Moreno said. "We made plays. Auburn has a great team. We worked so hard all week long. The offensive line opened up holes. The wide receivers were catching big plays."

In the 118th meeting of the south's oldest rivalry, Georgia kept pace in the SEC East race, staying one-half game ahead of second-place Tennessee (4-2).

To reach the SEC title game, however, Georgia needs Tennessee to lose another game. The Volunteers hold the tiebreaker based on a 35-14 victory over the Bulldogs in Knoxville on October 6.

"This is just another win in the SEC," Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "Everything is out of our control."

Still, Georgia is playing its best football of the season, having won four straight since the loss at Tennessee.

The Bulldogs have scored 40 or more points in three straight games, a feat they last accomplished in 1942.

"We got whipped on defense tonight," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We didn't get our players in the right places. I thought we looked confused out there at times. When you give up 45 points, you have been taken to the woodshed."

Donning their black jerseys, Georgia got a boost from the crowd at Sanford Stadium. Many of the fans also wore black, creating "blackout" conditions.

"I want to say thanks to Bulldog Nation," Richt said. "It was unbelievable to look into the stands and see what I saw. By the time we kicked off, the whole stands were blacked out. It was truly a tribute to Bulldog Nation."

Georgia's defense also contributed, picking off Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox four times.

Unlike Cox, Stafford avoided mistakes, completing 11-of-19 passes for 237 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

"When our offense gets it in the red zone, we are pretty efficient at putting it in the end zone," Stafford said.

Stafford's 13-yard TD strike to Sean Bailey staked the Bulldogs to a 17-3 lead with 10:54 remaining in the first half.

After Moreno's 24-yard TD run put Georgia back ahead, 24-20, with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Kelin Johnson intercepted Cox at the Auburn 48 on the ensuing possession.

Georgia needed six plays to extend its lead on Moreno's three-yard TD burst on the final play of the third period, then turned the game into a rout in the fourth quarter.

"Tonight was just one of those nights," Cox said. "They did everything we thought that they would, and their defense really got too much pressure on us."

Moreno finished with 101 yards on 22 carries, his fourth straight 100-yard game. Last week, he joined Herschel Walker as the only Georgia freshmen to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

Thomas Brown, who missed the last three games while recovering from a broken collarbone suffered against Mississippi on September 29, ripped off a 53-yard gain on Georgia's first possession of the final period.

The long run gave Georgia a 1st-and-goal at the 1 and set up Brannan Southerland's TD run on the next play.

Things continued to unravel for Auburn, as Cox was intercepted by Bryan Evans at the Georgia 41 just two plays later.

The Bulldogs converted that turnover into Brown's one-yard TD run with 6:48 remaining.

Brown finished with 81 yards on 14 carries as Georgia wore down Auburn in the second half with its power running game.