Lowe’s fumble return gives Red team G-Day victory

rseibel@macon.comApril 14, 2012 

ATHENS -- Strange things tend to happen in exhibition games. And Saturday’s G-Day festivities definitely had the Georgia football team in exhibition mode.

On a day in which several players switched squads during the spring game, Ricky Lowe’s 68-yard fumble return with 1:40 remaining and a failed two-point conversion by the Black team in the final minute gave the Red team a 32-31 victory in front of an announced crowd of 44,117 at Sanford Stadium.

“I think there’s probably a little bit more offensive plays than I thought might be made (Saturday), but when you look at it the defense was scoring points, too,” head coach Mark Richt said. “I thought both sides of the ball did well, and both teams fought hard.”

While there were many strong efforts and some standout performances, there was also a chance to mix in some trickery and some razzle-dazzle in the Bulldogs’ final workout of the spring.

In an exhibition game that saw several key players sit out with injuries, Ken Malcome rushed for 32 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries for the Red team, while the Bulldogs’ top three quarterbacks -- Aaron Murray, Hutson Mason and Christian LeMay -- each threw for a score.

Richard Samuel, who saw time at tailback in the second half for the Black, led the rushing yardage totals with 43 yards and a touchdown.

LeMay was the top passer, completing 7-of-10 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown, while Jay Rome caught two passes for 73 yards and a score.

More importantly, there were no additional serious injuries as the Bulldogs head into their 3.5-month break before the start of fall practice.

“It was a good day,” Richt said. “I had the chance to see a couple of quarters up in the booth. I used to call plays up there; it’s a great vantage point to see what’s going on. I thought the game was played pretty well.”

None of the major position battles were decided Saturday, but there were bits and pieces of things shown that will have Bulldogs fans talking.

By starting for the Red team, Malcome was the de facto No. 1 tailback. But Isaiah Crowell saw plenty of time, as well, picking up 39 yards on 10 carries. With Keith Marshall entering the program as a freshman, that position battle is far from being decided.

Then there was Samuel, who likely will move to fullback for the fall. His efforts late in the game showcased his powerful rushing style.

“Richard proved (Saturday) that he is a valuable runner,” Richt said. “He could absolutely bring a good change of pace to our running game with the physicality that he has, and he has speed, too, of course. We feel like he can play the fullback position -- he’s smart enough to, and he’s willing enough to. I just don’t know how that thing’s going to shape up.

“We’ve got a couple of guys here on campus and a freshman coming in. We’ll just have to wait and see how much playing time Richard will get at the fullback position.”

There also still isn’t a clear No. 2 quarterback behind Murray, who completed 7-of-17 passes for 112 yards, although LeMay had his moments.

LeMay started for the Black team, finding Rome for a 66-yard score with 59 seconds remaining in the game. But his two-point conversion attempt was off the mark, allowing the Red team to run out the clock for the victory.

LeMay started the day strong, completing his first three attempts en route to a 46-yard field goal by Adam Erickson. But it was an up-and-down day after that, starting with an interception by Ramik Wilson at the beginning of the next series.

Mason, meanwhile, is expected to redshirt after seeing time with both teams Saturday. He threw for a combined 133 yards, going 9-for-12.

“I think it went decent,” LeMay said. “There were some highs and some lows. Going up against a great defense like ours, you’re going to make some mistakes. That’s why you have film that you can go back and watch. I feel like I can go back and watch the film and learn a lot of things from it.”

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