It was not a normal first game for the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday. The team didn’t open the 2016 season between the hedges in Sanford Stadium and former coach Mark Richt wasn’t roaming the sidelines.
But by the end of the game, as the Bulldogs stood victorious and celebrated in the middle of the field, everything seemed perfectly normal.
In his first game as the head coach of Georgia, Kirby Smart led his alma mater to a 33-24 comeback win over the North Carolina Tar Heels in front of a majority red and black crowd at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
For Georgia, the story of the game, as it had been the week leading up to kickoff, was the quarterback situation. Redshirt senior Greyson Lambert was named the starter on Thursday over incoming freshman and top recruit Jacob Eason. During the game, however, both players got chances to go under center, as the two swapped out throughout the game.
The situation worked out well for the Bulldogs, as Eason threw for 131 yards and a touchdown and Lambert added another 54 yards. Neither quarterback threw an interception.
For the most part, however, the quarterback had little consequence for the team’s offense. Star running back Nick Chubb, playing in his first game since a grisly knee injury last October, was the heart and soul of Georgia’s offense, racking up 222 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries.
Chubb also had help from freshman Brian Herrien, who rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown in his first game as a Bulldog.
On the other side of the ball, the UGA defense effectively slowed down North Carolina’s high speed offense, which was ranked twelfth in the county last season in total yards, holding the Tar Heels to 24 points and 315 yards of offense.
The Georgia defense also forced a safety in the third quarter when the Bulldogs were trailing 24-21.
After that safety, Georgia never looked back, outscoring UNC 10-0 on the way to a 1-0 start on the season.
Next week, the Georgia Bulldogs host Nicholls State in Athens for its first home game.
Kickoff is at 12 p.m. on Saturday.
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