Last-second field goal kicks No. 21 Georgia by Arizona StatePosted: Updated:
ATHENS, Ga. -- A.J. Green had another huge game catching the ball.
He'll always remember this one for the ball that ricocheted off his left elbow.
Green hauled in eight passes for 153 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown, but his biggest play was a blocked field goal that helped No. 21 Georgia to escape with a 20-17 victory over Arizona State on Saturday night. Blair Walsh kicked a 37-yard field goal for the Bulldogs as time ran out.
"That's got to be my best play ever," Green said of his block. "That tops all the catches."
Which is no small feat. The sophomore, who had a career-best 159 yards receiving against Arizona State a year ago, came up with a 36-yard grab for his final reception of the night to set up Walsh's winning field goal.
Georgia (3-1) barely held up its end of next week's Southeastern Conference showdown against No. 7 LSU, which had survived an upset bid of its own earlier in the day to beat Mississippi State 30-26.
A driving rain that swept through Athens before the game had moved out by the second half, so that couldn't be blamed for Georgia allowing Arizona State (2-1) to get back in the game with a sloppy performance.
The Bulldogs appeared headed for an easy one, racing to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter, but they committed three turnovers after halftime, two of which led to touchdowns for Arizona State. The Sun Devils led 17-14 heading to the fourth quarter after Jarrell Holman returned an interception 47 yards for a score.
Joe Cox, coming off a five-touchdown performance the previous week against Arkansas, threw another pass that was picked off by Holman with 5 1/2 minutes remaining to put the Sun Devils at the Georgia 20 with the score tied at 17.
The Sun Devils failed to move the ball and called on Bobby Wenzig to attempt a go-ahead field goal from 37 yards away. The freshman handled the kicking duties in place of regular Thomas Weber, who is expected to miss five or six games with a groin injury.
Wenzig made his first attempt, a 43-yarder in the opening quarter, but he got off a low kick with the game hanging in the balance. The 6-foot-4 Green leaped up and got his arm on it, the ball fluttering harmlessly into the end zone, far short of the goal posts.
"I jumped as high as I can," Green said. "It hit my elbow and I was like, 'Whaaat?'"
Green wasn't done. After Cox went to freshman Rantavious Wooten for an 11-yard completion to convert on third down, Green took off down the left sideline and made another huge play over Pierre Singfield. The 36-yard pass carried the Bulldogs to the Arizona State 22.
"That's just the type of player he is," Cox said. "He has that kind of ability to make plays at any point in the game, with anybody on him, whether it's three people or man-to-man coverage. You've just got to give him a chance to make a play. He's definitely a special player. I'm glad he's on our side."
From there, all Georgia had to do was run down the clock and leave the ball in the middle of the field for Walsh's attempt. The sophomore had not missed all season, and he improved to 8 for 8 with a field goal right through the uprights on the final play.
"I knew it was going to come down to me," Walsh said. "We don't get on the field that much as kickers. Anytime you can get out there and be the difference, that's awesome."
The Bulldogs celebrated near the center of the field, while several Arizona State players collapsed on their side of the line. Holman flung away his helmet in disgust.
"It's just a tough one to lose," said Holman, who also had a fumble recovery along with his two interceptions.
Dimitri Nance rushed for 92 yards and scored Arizona State's first touchdown on a 6-yard pass from Danny Sullivan. That drive began when Travis Goethal stripped the ball away from Caleb King and Holman fell on it at the Georgia 37.
Three plays later after Nance's TD, Holman was at it again. He picked off a pass from Cox at the 47, bounced off one attempted tackle and weaved his way to the end zone for the score that put the Sun Devils ahead for the first time. A small contingent of fans from out West chanted "A-S-U! A-S-U!" while the soggy home crowd looked on in stunned silence.
"We played well," said Sun Devils coach Dennis Erickson, whose team dropped to 3-27 against ranked opponents since 2000. "We got a turnover late in the game to set up the win, but we did not capitalize.
"It's heartbreaking to come so close and not win."
Georgia rallied to tie it on Walsh's 21-yard field goal in the opening minutes of the final quarter. The Bulldogs passed up their first chance at the go-ahead kick -- going for it on fourth and less than a yard on the Arizona State 28. Fred Munzenmaier, who had scored in the first quarter on a 2-yard run, was stuffed for no gain.
But Walsh and the Bulldogs got another chance -- thanks to Green.