Bennett, Georgia pile on TCU early in CFP title game

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Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against TCU during the first half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – It didn’t take long for top-ranked Georgia to assert itself against third-ranked TCU and make a mark in the College Football Playoff record book.

The Bulldogs’ 17 points in the first quarter were the most to open a title game in the nine years since the four-team playoff came into existence.

Georgia had 164 yards of total offense in the quarter, averaging 11.6 yards per play. Quarterback Stetson Bennett was seven of eight passing for 111 yards and a touchdown, with wide receiver Ladd McConkey making four catches for 74 yards, including a 37-yard scoring grab.

Bennett opened the game with a 21-yard touchdown rush and had a 6-yard scoring run midway through the second quarter, joining an unlikely collection of quarterbacks with multiple scoring runs in the BCS or CFP title game.

Craig Krenzel had two in Ohio State’s win over Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl and Vince Young had three to help Texas defeat Southern California in the legendary 2006 Rose Bowl.

The Bulldogs led 38-7 at halftime, topping the 35 points scored in the first half by Alabama against the Buckeyes in 2021.


TCU’s Emari Demercado, who grew up within walking distance of SoFi Stadium, got the start at running back after Kendre Miller was ruled out.

Miller suffered a sprained MCL to his right knee late in the first half of the Horned Frogs' CFP semifinal victory over Michigan. He went through pregame warmups with a bulky brace on his right knee, but did not appear to be running normally.

Demercado — who rushed for a career-high 150 yards against Michigan — got his first carry on TCU’s third series. He had three carries for 13 yards on the drive, which ended in a 2 yard keeper by quarterback Max Duggan to get the Horned Frogs within 10-7 in the first quarter.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound senior had a career-high 622 rushing yards and six touchdowns this season while averaging 5.8 yards per carry.


AP Sports Writer Joe Reedy contributed to this report.


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