MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Led by junior tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and a stubborn defense, the Georgia Bulldogs defeated Texas Christian 31-23 Friday afternoon in the Liberty Bowl.
Chubb rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, while Michel added 87 yards and a touchdown on 15 rushes. The latter also caught two passes for 39 yards and a score, marking the first time since the fourth game of last season Michel scored two touchdowns in a single game.
“We just kept pounding the rock,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “The guys just kept believing in what we were doing. … We were moving up front and giving different formations. We got some perimeter blocking and those two backs are special kids.”
On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore lineman Trenton Thompson collected three sacks, which tied a school bowl record while setting a Liberty Bowl record. Georgia collected two turnovers on two Lorenzo Carter forced fumbles, and sophomore linebacker Roquan Smith led the team with 13 tackles.
Freshman quarterback Jacob Eason passed for 164 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-21 passing. Junior wideout Isaiah McKenzie had four catches for a game-high 103 yards, including a 77-yard catch and run that set up the game’s first score—a 4-yard touchdown run by Michel with less than six minutes lapsed in the contest.
Trailing 7-0, the Horned Frogs scored 16 consecutive points before Michel scored his second touchdown on a pass he caught out of the backfield, whereupon he raced 33 yards for a score. Trailing 16-14 midway through the third quarter, Eason passed to Javon Wims for a 6-yard touchdown, which followed a successful fake field goal for a first down.
In the subsequent possession, the Horned Frogs regained the lead, 23-21, at the 2:07 mark in the third quarter on a 9-yard touchdown reception by John Diarse, his second of the game, from quarterback Kenny Hill. However, Georgia quickly went back on top, 24-23, with a 30-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
Midway through the final quarter, the Bulldogs erased a little over five minutes off the clock with a 9-play, 70-yard drive that Chubb capped off with a lead-lengthening 13-yard touchdown run with 2:48 left in the contest.
“I’m proud of this team,” Smart said following the bowl victory. “This means a lot for this Georgia program.”
For the team, it was its eighth win of the season, whereas the victory was the program’s 30th in its bowl history.