ATLANTA (AP) — Sony Michel rushed for 149 yards and scored Georgia's lone touchdown on the first possession of the game Saturday, enough for the Bulldogs to pull out an ugly 13-7 victory over Georgia Tech that likely boosted the job prospects of embattled coach Mark Richt.
While hardly an impressive effort, Georgia (9-3) got back on the winning side in its state rivalry and put Richt in position for the 10th double-digit-win season of his 15-year tenure with a bowl victory.
That may be enough to keep his job after a disappointing season in which the Bulldogs started as the favorite in the Southeastern Conference East, only to get blown out by both Alabama and Florida.
For Georgia Tech (3-9), it was the fitting close to a dismal season. The Yellow Jackets, who won the Orange Bowl last season, lost nine of their last 10 games to finish with their worst record since going 1-10 in 1994.
Richt's future was the leading storyline going into the game, with plenty of speculation that another season coming up short of expectations might be enough to lead to the school's first coaching change since Jim Donnan was fired after the 2000 season.
But Richt's supporters can point to a four-game winning streak since a 27-3 loss to Florida, and the coach improved to 13-2 in his career against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets won 30-24 last season in a wild overtime game in Athens, but they squandered their best chance of pulling off another upset with a pair of turnovers in Georgia territory on Saturday.
"I don't think much about it," Richt said after the game, when asked about his job security. "I think the Lord is in charge of everything, so I don't worry too much about it."
Georgia Tech did manage to avoid its first shutout since 1997, finally scoring on Justin Thomas' 15-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Jeune with 3:24 remaining. But Georgia fell on a pooch kick deep in its own territory, and Greyson Lambert connected from his own end zone on a gutsy 25-yard pass to Jeb Blazevich to help the Bulldogs run out most of the clock. Georgia Tech's last-gasp pass was intercepted.
Georgia jumped ahead less than five minutes into the game.
After driving to the Georgia Tech 34 on the opening possession, the Bulldogs passed on a long field goal attempt and handed the ball to Michel on fourth-and-1. He got a huge block on the edge from right tackle John Theus, and kept right on running to the end zone without being touched.
Marshall Morgan added a couple of field goals, pushing the lead to 13-0.
Georgia Tech finally scored late in the game, taking advantage of a disputed unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Georgia linebacker Jake Ganus. It extended Georgia Tech's streak without being shut out to 237 consecutive games. The Yellow Jackets also avoided the embarrassment of their first home shutout since a 7-0 loss to Georgia in 1957.
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AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org