tampabay.com

Dawgs exhibit redemption, revolving QBs

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published September 3, 2006


ATHENS, Ga. - Hey, Mikey, what's with the showboating?

In No. 15 Georgia's 48-12 win Saturday over Western Kentucky, which was as easy as expected though it did nothing to resolve the Bulldogs' quarterback situation - Mikey Henderson provided some excitement.

Henderson got a little ahead of himself on a 64-yard punt return in the first quarter and started to celebrate inside the 5, holding the ball high in his left hand. The ball came loose before he crossed the goal line and bounced through the end zone for a touchback.

Just over a minute later, Henderson got another chance returning punts and broke loose for a 67-yard touchdown that set the pace for Georgia's season opener.

"I thought I was in but something in the back of my mind was saying that maybe I wasn't in, so I looked for the ball," said Henderson, who was returning punts for the first time in his career.

When officials began their long review of his blunder, Henderson didn't bother looking at the Sanford Stadium video board.

"I couldn't look," he said. "When they said it was being reviewed, I just put my head down."

After the play was ruled a touchback, giving Western Kentucky possession at the 20, Henderson approached coach Mark Richt, not to beg forgiveness but to let him know his hamstring felt tight.

Then Henderson asked to have another chance.

"I didn't want that to be my last play," Henderson said. "He didn't want me to get hurt, but I wanted to go back in there and get another shot at it."

He didn't have to wait long.

Western Kentucky's Tanner Siewert punted to Henderson again, and this time Henderson held the ball in both hands and dove into the end zone.

"I wasn't thinking touchdown, I just wanted to go back in there," Henderson said.

Richt only reluctantly provided the second chance. "I was getting ready to yank him, not because of his hamstring but because of what happened," he said.

After the touchdown, Henderson was held out the rest of the game "not because of his antics, but because of his hamstring," Richt said.

New Georgia starting quarterback Joe Tereshinski's also had an uneven day, but unlike Henderson, it may not be so easy to brush off the Bulldogs.

Tereshinski threw for 90 yards and a touchdown before freshman Matthew Stafford led two fourth-quarter drives.

Tereshinski finished 7-of-17, including a 17-yard touchdown to Mario Raley for a 14-0 lead.

Joe Cox, the top backup, entered in the second quarter with Georgia leading 24-0 and completed 2-of-3 for 29 yards with an interception.

Tereshinski returned in the third quarter before Stafford excited fans in the fourth, possibly earning a promotion to second string.

Tereshinski had several passes dropped, including a possible touchdown to tight end Martrez Milner early in the third. Tereshinski, a senior, made his first and only start last season in a loss to Florida.

"Right now Joe T. is definitely No. 1 and we'll just compete to see who is No. 2," Richt said.

On Stafford's first possession, Danny Ware ran 40 yards for a touchdown and a 41-7 lead. Ware had five carries for 63 yards.

Stafford also directed a 65-yard touchdown drive, completing three straight passes, including a 13-yard touchdown to tight end Coleman Watson with one minute left. Stafford finished 3-of-5 for 40 yards and one touchdown.

Richt said the decision to play Stafford was made before the game.

"I felt pretty comfortable," Stafford said. "It was awesome to go out there and have the fans cheer me like that."

The quarterback situation likely will be a hot topic again as Georgia prepares for its conference opener at South Carolina next Saturday.

"The depth chart is not really set in stone right now, so you've got to look for your opportunities," Tereshinski said. "I'm ready for it to be set."

After Tereshinski's touchdown pass, Brandon Coutu kicked a 37-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead. Kregg Lumpkin and Thomas Brown each had 2-yard scoring runs for the Bulldogs in the second quarter for a 31-0 lead.

Western Kentucky's Justin Haddix was 12-for-27 for 126 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

"Forty-eight points is 48 points and we are not happy with that," Hilltoppers coach David Elson said.