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Never say die - UGA prevails, 31-24

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Posted: December 31, 2006 12:07 a.m.
Updated: January 15, 2007 5:00 a.m.
    ATLANTA — Tony Taylor set up two fourth-quarter touchdowns with interceptions and Georgia rallied from an 18-point deficit to upset No. 14 Virginia Tech 31-24 on Saturday night in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
    Georgia finished an up-and-down season with three straight victories over ranked teams, a first for the program. The Bulldogs (9-4) salvaged an otherwise disappointing regular season with wins over No. 5 Auburn and No. 16 Georgia Tech.
    Taylor’s interceptions gave the senior linebacker seven for the season and helped Georgia rally after Virginia Tech (10-3) led 21-3 at halftime.
    Georgia freshman Matthew Stafford threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Martrez Milner in the third quarter and passed to Milner again for a 2-point conversion in the fourth quarter that tied the game at 21-21.
    Brandon Coutu’s third field goal of the game, from 28 yards, gave Georgia a 24-21 lead with 10:42 left in the game. Taylor returned his second interception, on a pass deflected by cornerback Paul Oliver, 15 yards to the Virginia Tech 1. Fullback Brannan Southerland scored on a fourth-down run from the 1 for a 31-21 lead with 7:30 left.
    Georgia safety Kelin Johnson added a third interception against Hokies quarterback Sean Glennon later in the fourth quarter.
    A 28-yard field goal by Virginia Tech’s Brandon Pace cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 31-24 with 3:41 left.
    Virginia Tech got the ball again on its 20 with 1:25 left but was stopped on downs. Glennon was 13-for-26 passing for 94 yards with three interceptions.
    Stafford was 9-for-21 passing for 129 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
    Virginia Tech appeared poised for a runaway win with a dominant first half, including 21 points in the second quarter.
    An interception by Brenden Hill set up the Hokies’ first touchdown. Branden Ore scored on a fourth-and-1 run early in the second quarter to give the Hokies a 7-3 lead.
    Eddie Royal returned a punt 54 yards to set up Ore’s second touchdown. Royal then threw a 53-yard TD pass to tight end Sam Wheeler on for a 21-3 lead.
    Georgia answered with its own big plays. Following Coutu’s second field goal, a successful onside kick set up Stafford’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Milner.
    Taylor’s first interception gave Georgia possession at the Virginia Tech 43 early in the fourth quarter. On first down, Stafford faked a handoff and passed 41 yards to Milner to the 2. Kregg Lumpkin scored from the 3, and the 2-point conversion tied the game at 21-21.
    Coutu was good on field goals from 39, 51 and 28 yards in his first game since Sept. 30. He missed the final seven games of the regular season with a hamstring injury.
    Virginia Tech defensive end Noland Burchette left the game in the first half after breaking his left arm. The Hokies lost cornerback Brandon Flowers to a sprained right ankle in the third quarter.
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