74th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl ~ January 1, 2008
#4 Georgia 41 (Final: 11-2, #2)
#10 Hawai’i 10 (Final: 12-1, #19)
“Aloha,” most people on the U.S. mainland know, means both “hello” and “goodbye” in Polynesian. And while the people of New Orleans welcomed the islanders to the Big Easy, the Georgia Bulldogs used the other definition to send the Warriors back home.
While Hawai’i entered the contest with a gaudy offense, the game was characterized by one play: Georgia defensive end Marcus Howard sped through the shredded Hawaii line, took aim at his target, and crashed into back-peddling Heisman finalist Colt Brennan at the Warriors’ 5-yard line. The ball popped free and rolled into the end zone, where Howard recovered it for the score.
The touchdown for Howard gave him as many as the vaunted Warrior run-and-shoot offense would get for the night. It lifted the third-quarter score to 31-3 as the Bulldogs dispatched the upstarts from the islands.
Brennan – and Hawai‘i – got a stiff dose of reality in going against the SEC’s Bulldogs. The Warriors’ quarterback was sacked eight times for minus 53 yards, and was hurried or hit on at least that many when he did get a pass off. He threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles while finishing 22-of-38 for 164 yards, less than half of his 348-yard average. Hawai‘i as a team was held to 306 yards, 228 fewer than its average – and 151 of that total came in the fourth quarter.
“It just shows it’s not always about offense,” said Howard, the game’s MVP after recording three sacks, forcing two fumbles, and tipping a ball that turned into a Bulldog interception. “Defense wins ball games, and that’s what happened tonight.”
Bulldogs Head Coach Mark Richt, a little surprised himself, said, “Our guys just kept coming. We wanted to force Colt (Brennan) to throw faster than he wanted to. We really didn’t think we’d get that many sacks, and we knew when they did complete passes we had to give up zero yards after the catch. Our guys tackled extremely well today.”
Georgia scored the first four times it had the ball, on runs of 17 and 11 yards by redshirt freshman tailback Knowshon Moreno, a 52-yard field goal by senior kicker Brandon Coutu, and an 11-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Matt Stafford to senior wide receiver Sean Bailey. That made the score 24-3 midway through the second quarter, and school was out for Hawaii.
“That was the fastest team I’ve probably ever seen,” a dazed Brennan said afterward. “We just couldn’t get into our groove and do what we wanted.”
“It’s great to be here in New Orleans and win this game,” Howard said. “I just wish we would have been here one week later.”
Recap excerpted from the book “Sugar Bowl Classic: A History” by Marty Mulé, who covered the game and the organization for decades for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
FOX Rating: 7.0
UGA: Knowshon Moreno 17 yd run (Brandon Coutu kick), 4:09 (1st)
UH: Dan Kelly 41 yd field goal, 4:20 (1st)
UGA: Moreno 11 yd run (Coutu kick), 0:57 (1st)
UGA: Coutu 52 yd field goal, 9:36 (2nd)
UGA: Sean Bailey 11 yd pass from Matthew Stafford (Coutu kick), 8:00 (2nd)
UGA: Marcus Howard 0 yd fumble recovery (Coutu kick), 8:57 (3rd)
UGA: Thomas Brown 1 yd run (Coutu kick), 1:40 (3rd)
UGA: Coutu 45 yd field goal, 14:32 (4th)
UH: Ryan Grice-Mullen 16 yd pass from Tyler Graunke (Kelly kick), 10:32 (4th)
|| Team Stats
|20|| First Downs
|311|| Passing Yds
|183|| Return Yards
|30:39|| Time of Possession
Hawai’i: Kealoha Pilares 7-26, Daniel Libre 1-7, David Farmer 1-0, Colt Brennan 9-(-38).
Georgia: Thomas Brown 19-73 TD, Knowshon Moreno 9-61 2 TD, A.J. Bryant 1-20, Kregg Lumpkin 3-7, Brannan Southerland 3-4, Matthew Stafford 2-0, Team 3-(-6).
Hawai’i: Colt Brennan 22-38-3, 169 yards, 0 TDs; Tyler Graunke 13-19-1, 142 yards, 1 TD.
Georgia: Matthew Stafford 14-23-1, 175 yards, 1 TD; Joe Cox 0-4-0, 0 yards, 0 TD.
Hawai’i: Jason Rivers 10-105, Davone Bess 7-53, Ryan grice-Mullen 6-37 TD, C.J. Hawthorne 4-73, Daniel Libre 3-15, David Farmer 2-17, Kealoha Pilares 2-8, Jason Laumoli 1-3.
Georgia: Mohammed Massaquoi 5-54, Kris Durham 3-48, Knowshon Moreno 2-26, Sean Bailey 2-18 TD, Michael Moore 1-17, Tripp Chandler 1-12.
Miller Digby Award recipient: Marcus Howard, Georgia defensive end