SHREVEPORT, La. — Brandon Boykin ran his way into the record book with an 81-yard kick return for a touchdown in the second quarter against Texas A&M, helping Georgia to a 44-20 win over the Aggies.
Boykin’s return came after A&M took an early 7-0 lead. Boykin fielded the ensuing kickoff and ran virtually untouched up the middle of the field and into the end zone to tie the score.
“They kicked it short and the blockers did a great job of opening it up,” Boykin said. “It parted like the red sea. It was just a straight shot really, and I had two blockers in front of me. It was great, it was a momentum changer and I think we sparked off of that.”
Boykin already set the Georgia record for return yardage in a season earlier this year. Boykin fell just 12 yards shy of 1,000 return yards for the season.
Never miss a local story.
The touchdown was the third of the season following a kickoff for Boykin, which moved him past Gene Washington for the school record for both a season and a career. It also tied Boykin with Tennessee’s Willie Gault for the SEC’s single-season record.
“That’s amazing to me,” Boykin said after he was informed of the record. “I wasn’t aware of that but it’s a great accomplishment and I can chalk that up to my blockers.”
Missing in action
Linebacker Rennie Curran didn’t take the field until the first play of the second quarter as punishment by the coaching staff for a rules violation.
Curran missed a morning running session last week in Athens due to a dentist appointment and head coach Mark Richt said that comes with an automatic suspension for the first quarter of play in the next game.
“It was not a huge deal other than he had an early morning run and our policy is that he will not get to play the first quarter of the game,” Richt said. “It was nothing bit at all in any way, shape or form, but he did sleep in on a morning he was supposed to run.”
Curran had started every game this season and entered play as the SEC’s leading tackler. The junior is considering leaving school early to enter the NFL draft.
Despite missing the first 15 minutes, Curran still finished with eight tackles in the game, second among the Bulldogs defenders.
“I should have been at practice, and Coach Richt didn’t think I communicated with him well,” Curran said.
Damaged without Davis
Georgia right tackle Josh Davis didn’t play against Texas A&M after suffering an ankle injury in practice earlier in the month. He was replaced by Vince Vance to start the game.
Davis had started six straight games for the Bulldogs at right tackle, which so happened to coincide with Georgia’s revived running game. His absence was felt immediately as the Bulldogs mustered just 27 yards on the ground in the first half against the Aggies.
The tide turned in the second half, however, and Georgia’s running attack found its footing, rushing for 181 yards in the final two quarters.
“What we were doing in practice, they were changing up a lot, giving us a lot of different looks,” left tackle Clint Boling said. “It was kind of hard to pick up at the beginning of the game, but the coaches went in at halftime and really came up with a great plan and we stuck with it through the end of the game.”
Boykin wasn’t the only Georgia player to come up big on special teams in the first half – two others got in on the fun with crucial blocks.
Geno Atkins blocked a 50-yard field goal attempt by the Aggies early in the second quarter to keep the game tied at zero.
After Boykin’s big return tied the game at 7 late in the second, sophomore Bacarri Rambo got in on the act with a blocked punt deep in Aggies territory. The ball bounced on the turf and Vance Cuff recovered at the 2-yard line. Tailback Caleb King cashed in on the next play to give the Bulldogs the halftime lead.
A.J. Green started at wide receiver, his first appearance since injuring his shoulder against Auburn on Nov. 13. He made six catches in the game for 57 yards to lead the Bulldogs’ receivers, but it was a couple of plays he didn’t make – two screen passes that he nearly broke for big gains if not for shoestring tackles – that haunted him.
“I thought if I would have played one more game coming into this one, I’d have been all right,” Green said. “I dropped two deep balls I knew I could catch, too. But that comes with not playing in six weeks.”
Boling them over
Texas A&M defensive end Von Miller came in as the nation’s sacks leader with 17, but he was no match for Boling, who stoned Miller throughout, holding the Aggies’ pass rusher to just four tackles and no sacks.
“Leading the nation in sacks is a big accomplishment, and if that’s the guy I’m going to be going against, I don’t want to let him get another one on me,” Boling said.
Mike Weaver dies
Former Georgia lineman Mike Weaver, who joined his older brother on successful Bulldogs teams in the early 1980s, has died. He was 47.
Georgia spokesman Claude Felton confirmed Weaver died this weekend at an Atlanta hospital. The cause of death could not be confirmed.
Weaver and his older brother, Eddie “Meat Cleaver” Weaver, signed with Georgia from Haines City, Fla.Mike Weaver was held out as a redshirt in 1980, when Georgia won the national championship. He was a part-time starter on the offensive line in 1981 and started every game in 1982. Georgia won SEC championships both seasons. He moved to defensive guard and had 85 tackles in 1983 before switching back to offense for his senior season.
Georgia was held without a point in the first quarter for the fifth time this season. In the Bulldogs’ last eight games against FBS opponents, they’ve scored a total of just 17 points in the first quarter. … Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson became the fourth quarterback to throw for 300 yards against Georgia but the first since Jonathan Crompton of Tennessee in Week 7.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report