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Georgia in Control From the Start, 24-15 : Independence Bowl: Freshman quarterback leads Bulldogs to two early touchdowns against Arkansas.

From Associated Press

Freshman quarterback Eric Zeier had a surprisingly easy time in guiding Georgia to early control of the 16th Independence Bowl.

Zeier completed his first seven passes Sunday, including two for first-quarter touchdowns, as No. 25 Georgia defeated Arkansas, 24-15.

“The receivers did a great job of catching the ball and the line gave a lot of protection,” Zeier said. “All of that makes it real easy for an offense to run smoothly. And coming out quickly on all cylinders made it easy.”

Zeier, starting his seventh consecutive game, completed 18 of 28 passes for 228 yards as the Bulldogs (9-3) rolled up 362 yards.

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Georgia had a 14-0 lead only 12 minutes into the game after Zeier passed to Arthur Marshall and Andre Hastings for touchdowns.

Arkansas (6-6), playing its last game as a member of the Southwest Conference before joining Georgia next season in the Southeastern Conference, had six turnovers. Sophomore Wade Hill saw five of his passes intercepted, completing only 12 of 31 for 122 yards.

“We were fortunate to get ahead early and make some plays,” said Georgia Coach Ray Goff, whose team rebounded from a 4-7 mark in 1990. “It wasn’t easy. We got some breaks and were able to take advantage of them.

“We didn’t really drive any length.”

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Georgia’s three touchdown drives, two after interceptions, averaged only 42 yards.

Hastings, the game’s offensive MVP, gave the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead when he beat Orlando Watters for a 27-yard score. The touchdown was set up by Ralph Thompson’s interception of John Allen’s deflection and 16-yard return to the 24.

Early in the third quarter, George Wynn picked off Hill at the Georgia 47.

Hastings, who had four catches for 94 yards, took a reverse to the left on the next play. He followed a blocking wall that included Zeier and went untouched 53 yards on his only carry to give Georgia a 24-7 lead three minutes into the second half.

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Marshall broke free in the end zone for the first Georgia touchdown--a seven-yard reception 10 minutes into the game that ended a seven-play, 48-yard drive. Zeier converted on third and five at the 43 with a 24-yard completion to Garrison Hearst.

E.D. Jackson rushed for 112 yards in 28 carries and scored both Arkansas touchdowns on runs of seven yards and one yard.


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