BOULDER, Colo. — Mark Richt called it the team’s “No. 1 running play.” And with Caleb King having one of his best nights, it seemed a no-brainer call.
Instead, it was just the latest dose of misery for a Georgia football team that has a lot of it right now.
King’s fumble, with his team in field goal range, iced a 29-27 loss at Colorado on Saturday night. It was the fourth straight loss for the Bulldogs, who started the season with hopes of making it to the SEC championship.
Colorado (3-1) was predicted to finish at the bottom of the Big 12 North Division. Georgia (1-4) had been predicted by most to finish second in the SEC East.
“We didn’t represent Georgia well. We didn’t represent the SEC well,” defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said. “The only people we have to blame is ourselves.”
The loss was all the more stunning because A.J. Green returned and had a sterling game. His first catch of the season, a leaping, one-handed grab for a touchdown, seemed to turn the momentum in the second quarter.
Georgia even led at halftime, its first lead since its season-opening win over Louisiana-Lafayette. But the Georgia defense allowed Colorado back in the game.
Georgia still had a great shot in the final few minutes. After Colorado missed a 52-yard field goal, the Bulldogs took over at their 35 with 3:37 left.
Right away, the Bulldogs began marching. Quarterback Aaron Murray had a pass for a first down. Shaun Chapas had an 11-yard catch to get down to the 39. King followed that up with a 12-yard carry up the middle.
Then a timeout was called. At that point, at the Colorado 29, the Bulldogs were easily in place-kicker Blair Walsh’s field goal range. There were less than two minutes left.
King had gained 103 yards on 11 carries up to that point. He had not fumbled this season, unlike the man he had replaced as starter, Washaun Ealey, who had two critical fumbles inside the 5 this season.
Upon the snap, Murray handed it to King. He was met in the backfield by a blitzing Colorado player, and the ball popped out.
“Right when he got the ball he got hit,” Murray said. “So it was not a good situation for him at all.”
Richt didn’t pile on King.
“I think he was trying to make a spin move as he was getting the ball,” Richt said. “You know, that’s his instinct, to try to make somebody miss. But we’ve gotta get the ball first, and he just didn’t do that. But Caleb, he gave great effort, he made great runs.”
Green finished with 159 total yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t touch the ball on Georgia’s first two drives, but once the second quarter started he was the difference in lifting the Bulldogs’ offense.
Green’s firsts three touches of the season, coming on consecutive drives, resulted in 82 yards and two touchdowns.
It was obvious that his presence, after a four-game NCAA suspension, had a huge impact on the offense. But in the end it was still another loss for his team.
“It’s hard to say what happen. Luck, I guess,” Green said. “We’re gonna keep fighting. I don’t know what to say right now.”
“Losing’s not good,” Richt said. “But there’s a lot of good things that came out of this, just as far as the effort and the attitude of this group. There’s a lot of things I could point to as a coach to be proud of as these guys. But the bottom line in football is wins and losses. And right now we haven’t gotten a win in a while.”