No. 18 Georgia rallies to defeat No. 22 North Carolina

Jason Getz—
North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora reacts during the first quarter of last year's Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game against Georgia (Photo by Jason Getz/USA Today)

ATLANTA — Nick Chubb showed he was fully recovered from his knee injury,
but the No. 18 Georgia Bulldogs also needed a spark from freshman quarterback
Jacob Eason to give former Alabama assistant Kirby Smart a victory in his first
game as the Bulldogs’ head coach on Saturday. Chubb, who set a Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game record with 222 yards on 32
carries, scored the clinching touchdown of a 33-24 victory over No. 22 North
Carolina on a 55-yard run with 3:34 remaining after Eason started the comeback
from a 10-point deficit. “It showed that these guys are never going to quit,” Smart said. “It felt
really good to get this win, but it was just one game. … We’ve got to use this
as a stepping stone.” Eason, who completed 8 of 12 passes for 131 yards, connected with Isaiah
McKenzie on a 17-yard touchdown pass and then later hit McKenzie on a deep ball
for 51 yards to set up a 29-yard field goal by William Ham that gave Georgia the
lead with 5:27 to play. Chubb, who blew out his left knee against Tennessee last season, scored on
a 2-yard run in the first quarter and left no doubt he’s capable of making a
Heisman Trophy bid as a junior after having his chances ended by the knee injury
last year. Many doubted Chubb would be ready for the opener. “It feels great to come out here and get a win in the first game,” he said.
“It was awesome to be back out there. My teammates motivated me. My family and
everyone around me pushed me and made sure I worked hard.” The hard work paid off. “He’s really good,” North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said. “There’s no
doubt he’s one of the best ones in the country and they are going to keep
feeding him the ball.” T.J. Logan returned the second-half kickoff 95 yards to put the Tar Heels
ahead and then scored on a 21-yard run to make it 24-14 midway in the third
quarter. North Carolina couldn’t hold on, though, as it tried for a statement
victory in the opener after an 11-win season a year ago. “We just made too many mistakes and you can’t do that against a good team
and have success,” said Fedora, noting his team’s 13 penalties. Georgia had 474 yards to 315 for North Carolina. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky, a senior making his first start for the Tar
Heels, completed 24 of 40 passes for 156 yards. Greyson Lambert, who shared time with Eason as Georgia’s quarterback, was 5
of 8 for 54 yards. “I thought both quarterbacks played well,” said Smart, who was noncommittal
about the rotation for the future. Eason, who entered after Lambert played the first two series of the second
half, got Georgia within three points with his TD pass to McKenzie that climaxed
a 75-yard drive aided by two pass-interference penalties on UNC. Then Trubisky, under pressure in the end zone, dumped off a pass to Elijah
Hood, who was driven out of the end zone by Roquan Smith for a safety near the
end of the third quarter. A penalty on Fedora for questioning a penalty call pushed UNC back near its
goal line. “That’s nobody’s fault but mine,” the coach said. “It’s my fault. That’s
the first time that’s ever happened in my life.” Chubb, who had 118 yards on 20 carries in the first half, ripped off a
22-yard run on Georgia’s second series, then scored off tackle from the 2. UNC tied it early in the second quarter on Trubisky’s bootleg run from a
yard out, and Eason entered to replace Lambert amid a roar from Bulldogs fans
anxious to see the prized recruit. Eason completed his first pass for a 23-yard gain to Terry Godwin. A fumble
by Brendan Douglas at the 12 ended that drive, but the second series under Eason
resulted in a 19-yard touchdown run by fellow freshman Brian Herrien. Nick Weiler’s 22-yard field goal with 11 seconds left before halftime got
the Tar Heels within 14-10. NOTES: Alabama graduate transfer DB Maurice Smith started for Georgia and
had four tackles and a pass breakup in the first half. … RB Sony Michel,
coming back from a broken left arm suffered during the summer, dressed for
Georgia, but didn’t play. … WR Mack Hollins had to sit out the first half for
UNC as a carryover for a targeting penalty in the Russell Athletic Bowl loss to
Baylor. … UNC’s last win over an SEC team was against Tennessee in the Music
City Bowl at the end of the 2010 season.