CHARLOTTE - Hutson Mason and Michael Bennett came to Georgia together and became close friends. Their careers ended at the same time too, and not in the way each wanted.
Mason, Georgia's starting quarterback, left the Belk Bowl on Tuesday night with concussion-like symptoms. He did not return, after passing for 144 yards and a touchdown, and no interceptions.
He was feeling well enough to do interviews afterwards, and said he got hurt on his final pass, an incompletion into the end zone where he was hit after he threw.
"It didn't really have anything to do with the hit, it was just how my head hit the ground," Mason said. "I've never been concussed before in my life, but I came over to the sideline, and something was off. It was just super dizzy, didn't want to force it and stuff, so I went to the locker room."
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Mason said his vision was "all jacked up." He sat in the locker room for 30 minutes and the symptoms subsided, but he decided it wasn't safe for him to go out there.
"It's a terrible way to go out, obviously," Mason said. "Everything I've had to persevere through I would have liked to finish it off in a better way. But that's the path that the good Lord has chosen me to walk. ... If it had been a leg or an arm or an injury like that there's no doubt I would have been out there. But with the head, my awareness was not back up to 100 percent."
Mason finished the season with a completion percentage of 68.87, which broke the school record formerly held by Mike Bobo.
Bennett, the senior receiver, suffered what appeared to be a more serious injury, also in the second quarter. It was to Bennett's left knee, tough news for a player with a history of knee trouble. He tore his ACL two years ago, ending his season, then tore his knee meniscus last year, causing him to pass two games.
Bennett was Georgia's leader in catches entering the bowl. On Tuesday night, he two passes for 23 yards.
Sanders' big game
Georgia freshman safety Dominick Sanders wasn't offered a scholarship by Georgia until after Todd Grantham left, and Jeremy Pruitt came aboard. And part of the reason Pruitt wanted him was his knack for interceptions.
Sanders made Pruitt look good on Tuesday night.
He had two interceptions, becoming the sixth Georgia player to ever do so. The last one also came in a bowl: Damian Swann had two against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, two years ago.
Sanders only had one interception heading into the bowl. But he had eight in his final eight games at Tucker High School last year, which Pruitt cited as a reason for wanting him.
There was a subtle, but much-needed, change on Georgia’s kickoff return unit.
Quayvon Hicks, who had struggled mightily fielding short punts against Kentucky and Georgia Tech, was replaced. Tight ends Jay Rome and Jeb Blazevich were put on either side of the field instead.
Louisville evidently had watched tapes of those games, and kicked it short at one point in the second quarter. Rome alertly called for a fair catch, and while he was nearly bumped from behind by a teammate, he held on.
A Friend finale
This was Georgia offensive line coach Will Friend's final game, as he's headed to join Bobo at Colorado State. Friend was at Georgia for four seasons, and his last one was the most stable.
Georgia started the same five offensive line starters for all 13 games, the first time that's happened since 2000. For all 13 games the line went, left to right, John Theus, Brandon Kublanow, David Andrews, Greg Pyke and Kolton Houston.
Friend may be leading, but four of those starters are set to return next season. Andrews, the senior center, is the only one not returning.
Marshall Morgan set a new school record for extra points. The old record was 63, set by Morgan two years ago, and he set the new record in the first half.