ATHENS, Ga. — The collar fit, and for at least one game, so did the crown.
Knowshon Moreno ran for three touchdowns and Georgia, ranked No. 1 to start a season for the first time, beat Georgia Southern 45-21 on Saturday to give new mascot Uga VII a win in his debut.
Moreno needed only eight carries for 59 yards to tie his career best with three touchdowns. He added two catches for 53 yards.
Georgia led 38-0 before Georgia Southern scored on a 1-yard run by quarterback Lee Chapple late in the third quarter. The Eagles added two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
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Uga VII, a white English bulldog and son of Uga VI, who died this summer, drew a standing ovation and University of Georgia president Michael Adams and athletic director Damon Evans slipped a red collar over the dog’s head in a pregame ceremony.
Matthew Stafford threw two touchdown passes and was 13-for-21 passing for a career-high 275 yards.
From the opening minutes, Stafford found open receivers as Georgia Southern focused on Moreno and the Georgia running game.
Freshman receiver A.J. Green made a 36-yard catch to set up Moreno’s first touchdown, a 2-yard run. Green added a 3-yard touchdown catch from Joe Cox for Georgia’s final touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Stafford threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Kris Durham in the second quarter and had a 5-yard scoring pass to Demiko Goodman in the third quarter.
Green wasn’t the only Georgia freshman to play a prominent role.
Freshman tailback Caleb King led Georgia with 12 carries for 95 yards. First-year tailback Richard Samuel added six carries for 34 yards.
Freshman Blair Walsh kicked a 52-yard field goal.
Samair Baker scored on a 3-yard run for the Eagles (0-1) in the final quarter. Leander Barney added a 34-yard touchdown catch from Antonio Henton with 1:45 left.
Chapple started for Georgia Southern and was 9-for-18 passing for 86 yards.
Henton, an Ohio State transfer, was 10-for-18 passing for 102 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Darell Norman led the Eagles with 12 carries for 60 yards.
Georgia suffered a potentially serious injury, losing starting defensive tackle Jeff Owens to a right knee injury in the opening quarter. He did not return. Details of the injury were not immediately available.
Owens, a senior, started all 13 games last season and had 27 tackles. The loss of Owens cut into Georgia’s depth on its defensive front. Backup Kade Weston was held out of the game with a sprained knee.