Georgia's first game against an unranked opponent sure wasn't as easy as the final score made it appear.
The ninth-ranked Bulldogs had last week off after opening the season with a loss to Clemson and a win over South Carolina, both top-10 programs, but it took a strong second half Saturday to pull away for a 45-21 win over North Texas at Sanford Stadium.
Aaron Murray threw for 408 yards with three touchdowns and added a rushing score for Georgia (2-1), which ripped off the final 24 points of the contest. Todd Gurley ran for 91 yards with a touchdown and Reggie Davis had the longest pass play in school history, a 98-yard touchdown reception.
The Bulldogs, possibly eyeing next week's showdown with LSU, led only 21-14 at the break. Things got worse almost immediately when Georgia went three-and-out to start the second half and the Mean Green tied the game with a blocked punt for a touchdown.
Murray, though, ran for a touchdown and threw for another score later in the third to give the Bulldogs some cushion. He finished 22-of-30 through the air and added 37 yards on the ground, becoming the school's all-time total yardage leader, surpassing David Greene's total of 11,270.
"I thought our team stumbled here and there and I'm really proud of how we fought through it and the way we finished," Murray said.
Derek Thompson threw for 202 yards with a score for North Texas (2-2), which was coming off a win against Ball State last week. Brelan Chancellor added a 99-yard kickoff return for a score in defeat.
"We did some good things on offense, but when you're not putting points on the board it's hard to justify that," Thompson remarked. "We did some good things but there are a lot of things we can improve on."
It was tough for both offenses in the rain on Saturday and Georgia went three- and-out to start the second half. A high snap on the punt allowed Marcus Trice the opportunity for the block and Zac Whitfield fell on the ball in the end zone to tie the game for the Mean Green.
After a trade of punts, Georgia marched 53 yards in eight plays for the go- ahead score. Murray keyed the set with a 24-yard pass to Arthur Lynch, setting up the quarterback's 1-yard scoring run midway through the third.
North Texas was in position to answer with the ball inside the Georgia 30 on the ensuing series, but Thompson was intercepted by Tray Matthews at the five.
The Bulldogs followed with a 95-yard drive to create some breathing room. Murray's 14-yard scramble on 3rd-and-10 kept the series alive early and he added throws of 32 yards and 12 yards before finding Chris Conley in the end zone from four yards away to make it 35-21 in the final minute of the period.
Gurley fumbled in the first minute of the fourth quarter to give North Texas possession at the Georgia 34, but the Bulldogs sent the Mean Green backward and forced a punt.
The Bulldogs tacked on a 27-yard field goal by Marshall Morgan with 3:45 to play and J.J. Green ran one yard for a touchdown two minutes later for the final margin.
Murray had the Bulldogs in position to score with their second offensive series, but was picked off by Will Wright at the goal line. Georgia then went 69 yards with its next possession for a touchdown, as a pass interference penalty set up Gurley's 12-yard scoring run with 3:41 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs needed just one play to extend the lead when they got the ball again. Pinned at his own two, Murray lofted a perfect strike to Davis at the 40 and the receiver took it the rest of the way for a 98-yard score on the first play of the second quarter.
North Texas followed with a 10-play drive for its first score, as Darnell Smith made a diving catch in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown.
Back came Georgia with a 75-yard march for a touchdown. Lynch caught three passes for 61 yards on the drive, including a 42-yard connection from flanker Rantavious Wooten on the first play. He then hauled in a 16-yard pass in the end zone from Murray to cap the set.
It didn't take long for North Texas to counter, as Chancellor raced 99 yards with the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
The Bulldogs had a chance for three at the conclusion of the first half, but Morgan missed a 52-yard field goal attempt as time expired.