By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
OXFORD – Georgia freshman running back Isaiah Crowell didn’t reach the end zone on Saturday, but his 30 carries for 147 yards, both career highs, will be looked at as a key factor in why Georgia left Oxford with a 27-13 victory.
His second 100-yard rushing performance of the season kept the Georgia offense moving at a steady pace throughout the day.
“He’s tough,” said Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt. “He’s very good, physical and faster than you think.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt said he’s prefer a lighter workload for his freshman, who said he “felt winded” in the second half.
Could Crowell have handled a few more carries? “If my team needed me to, I could have,” he told reporters.
Crowell showed his speed and toughness on Georgia’s opening play, rushing off the left side for a 20-yard gain. He netted 36 of Georgia’s 61 yards on their opening drive, which ended with a field goal.
In the second quarter, the Ole Miss defense had Georgia pinned on their 2-yard line facing a 3rd-and-9, before Crowell broke off a 29-yard gain to give Georgia breathing room. Leading 10-0 at the time, Georgia took advantage of the opportunity, scoring four plays later to extend their lead to 17-0. Crowell finished the half with 92 yards on 14 carries, an average of 6.6 yards per rush.
Ole Miss defensive back Charles Sawyer, who caught Crowell before his 29-yard gain became a 99-yard TD run, said the Ole Miss defense could have tackled better, but Crowell is simply a good back, the best they’ve saw all year.
“He’s a good running back. He’s shifty and very strong,” said Sawyer, who had nine stops on the day. “He just made plays – made it easier for them.”
Linebacker Mike Marry , who had 10 tackles for the Rebels – including a sack and a tackle for loss – agreed with Sawyer that Crowell is the best back they’ve faced over their five-game stretch. But Marry was quick to point out that stopping such a talented back comes down to intensity and gang-tackling.
“I fell like he’s the best back we’ve seen all year,” said Marry. “He competes each and every play, but you got to try and play with more intensity than he does on every play.
“We just got to execute better. We just have to gang-tackle better.”