It wasn't until long after Saturday's 20-13 loss to LSU was over that it finally became clear what the unsportsmanlike penalty on Georgia following A.J. Green's last-minute touchdown catch against the Tigers was all about.
After the play, the Bulldogs were penalized 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff, eventually setting LSU up on the Georgia 38 with 1:09 to play. Two plays later, Charles Scott breaks through a host of missed tackles en route to the scoring the game-winning touchdown.
According to a release by UGA sports information personnel, head referee Marc Curles said that the penalty was actually called on Green, who he said made a gesture to the crowd calling attention to himself after the score.
"I had no idea what happened," Green said. "Next thing I know, there was flag."
Head coach Mark Richt explained what happened next.
"They didn't say specifically what happened. They just said it was an unsportsmanlike penalty and gave LSU the option of whether or not to take the penalty on the conversion or on the kick, which was wise," Richt said. "Field position is so crucial at that point. A minute-and-nine left, great field position is a whole lot better than 1:09 deep in your own territory."
Richt said he'll need to do a better job of letting his players know the consequences for their actions.
"I didn't coach it up. I didn't say if we got an exciting score, don't go crazy. I didn't do that. I probably should have before the drive started, said 'Hey, if we score,' let's get off the field, kick.' I did not prepare them for that moment," Richt said. "I did not see what happened. I'm sure they were just jumping around and enjoying the score."
Although Richt did not criticize the officials for the call, he wondered aloud if the rule shouldn't allow for some leniency.
"To me, if it you're losing the game and it looks like all hope is lost, you get a spark, score a touchdown, I think that was probably the right amount of celebration. I don't know if it was excessive for moment considering what had happened. I thought it was about par for the course," Richt said. "I don't know how they determine what is excessive and what's not. I guess you can't do it too long, pile on each other, whatever."
Ironically, Richt thought that the subsequent 15-yard unsportsmanlike call on LSU following Scott's winning touchdown should not have been an issue either.
"I didn't think they went too crazy. I thought they were perfectly within their celebratory rights. I didn't think they were excessive and they had a big score at the end, too," Richt said. "They should have been jumping around."
The flag was the second unsportsmanlike call on Georgia in the game.
Earlier, tight end Orson Charles was penalized 15 yards for drawing attention to himself following a catch that moved Georgia back 15 yards.
Fortunately, the penalty did not hurt as the Bulldogs still were able to score their first touchdown on a 1-yard pass on fourth down from Joe Cox to Shaun Chapas.
"I could see them throwing the one on Orson," Richt said. "Orson needs to celebrate with the team and he didn't do that."
Ealey surprised by playing time
Freshman Washaun Ealey said he had no idea that was going to get thrust into action like he was in the third quarter against LSU.
"I didn't know until the coaches told me to go in," Ealey said. "I just went in and tried to do my thing."
Ealey was actually one of the lone bright spots for the Bulldogs, finishing with 33 yards on eight carries.
"We felt like (Ealey) had been running the ball extremely well and we felt like he could give us a spark," Richt said. "He did quite frankly. As he got healthier and more comfortable in the system, we thought he was a guy who might give us a spark. I thought he made difference for us tonight."
Richt did not rule out the former ECI star continuing to get future opportunities.
"We're going to play the people who put us in the best position to win," Richt said.
"It was just exciting being out there," Ealey. "People had been emailing me and texting me, asking when I was going to get in. I'm just glad I got my chance."
Boykin gets second pick of the year
Sophomore cornerback Brandon Boykin had his second interception of the season and of his career to stall the Tigers' first drive.
Boykin's first pick of the season came versus South Carolina. Georgia has six points off four forced turnovers this season.
Opponents have scored 54 points off 12 Bulldog turnovers this season.
This and that
Senior fullback Justin Fields started the first game of his career. Senior defensive tackle Kade Weston got his second straight start alongside senior defensive Jeff Owens. Owens has started a team-high 31 games in his career. This was Weston's 13th career start.
Georgia travels to Knoxville, Tenn., for an SEC matchup with Tennessee (2-2, 0-1) next Saturday. The Bulldogs broke a two-game losing streak in 2008 by topping the Volunteers 26-14 in Athens last year. The Bulldogs have won three out of the last four games in Neyland Stadium.
Green now has five touchdown catches this season, 13 for his career.
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