October 24, 2010

Record night for Ealey

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Surrounded by a cluster of reporters during Saturday's post-game media scrum, running back Washaun Ealey was asked time and time again what it meant to him after scoring a Georgia-record five rushing touchdowns during the Bulldogs' 44-31 win over Kentucky.

Each time, his answer was the same.

"I knew the line had my back, the receivers, the fullbacks, they all had my back," said Ealey, who had 28 carries for 157 yards. "The whole team had my back. I just had to run hard, they were the ones making the blocks."

So, although from a sound-byte perspective, Ealey had little to say about his record-breaking effort, others weren't so shy.

With good reason:

Not only did Ealey set the school record with five rushing touchdowns, his 28 carries established a career high while his five touchdowns equaled a mark he now shares with Robert Edwards, who did it against South Carolina in 1995 (four rushing, one receiving).

"Well, it was great. He's been running pretty well all year, but the ball's been squirting out," head coach Mark Richt said. "The last three games he's not had an issue with it, although there was a ball in the Tennessee game, but it got out of bounds. But the last two games I don't think the ball has gotten out at all. That's good, he needs to do that."

Wide receiver A.J. Green came away duly impressed with his sophomore teammate, who's endured his share of ups and downs this fall.

The season got off to a disappointing start for Ealey, who after serving a one-game suspension against Louisiana-Lafayette, lost a key fumble inside the 5-yard line at South Carolina before losing the ball again inside the 5 against Mississippi State.

Thanks to the turnovers, Ealey saw his time greatly reduced until Caleb King's two-game suspension necessitated his return to the lineup.

"At the beginning of the season (Ealey) had a lot of things that didn't work out, but sometimes things happen like that," Green said. "But Washaun is a tough guy. He's kept getting after it and today that hard work paid off."

Ealey started the scoring for the Bulldogs, plowing in from 3 yards out on Georgia's opening possession before adding a pair of 2-yard runs in the second quarter.

His fourth touchdown also came from 2-yards out to cap Georgia's first possession of the third quarter before adding a 1-yard run two minutes into the fourth.

Ealey had a chance to a sixth touchdown late in the game but two straight runs from the Wildcat 8 failed to gain. The Bulldogs eventually settled for a 30-yard field goal by Blair Walsh.

"I wanted it, but only because it would have put more points on the board," Ealey said. "But five is still pretty good."

Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said it was obvious his defense had no answer for Ealey.

"A couple of times they ran on us it was a nine-man front. Somebody's got to make the play for you. The only reason we didn't have 10 is because we put somebody over the top of (Green)," Phillips said. "Every week you play in the SEC you're going to see some good backs, and he is a good, tough and hard-nosed. He's a typical SEC back; that's what you're going to see every week."

Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray said he's noticed a big change in Ealey the past couple of weeks.

He just hopes it continues this Saturday when the Bulldogs face Florida in Jacksonville.

"The past two weeks he's been running the ball hard," Murray said. "He's not going down on first contact and he's breaking tackles. He's doing a tremendous job of not going down and he's making some big plays for us."

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