January 1, 2013

Victory sweet for Conley

ORLANDO, Fla. - The smile on Chris Conley's face told the story.

His two touchdowns - on passes of 49 and 87 yards from quarterback Aaron Murray - were huge, not just from the standpoint that they enabled Georgia to beat Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl, but they also helped Conley erase some of the memories from the Bulldogs' loss to Alabama in the SEC title game.

Although nobody ever blamed Conley, the sophomore admitted he's often kicked himself for catching the tipped pass that resulted in the clock running out on the Bulldogs one month ago in the Georgia Dome.

"This was huge, not just because we broke our two-game bowl losing streak, but for me personally t was also big," Conley said. "It was a great game, a great way to end the season. Now, I need to focus on what I need to work on and get prepared for what I hope will be a big year."

His showing against the Cornhuskers was quite the capper.

After playing sparingly the first half, Conley's 49-yard grab from Murray enabled Georgia to tie the game at 31 before his 87-yard catch and run in the fourth quarter iced the game for the Bulldogs and etched both players name into the UGA bowl record book for the longest touchdown pass.

With Georgia leading 38-31 but backed up at its own 13, Nebraska brought the house on what was a third-and-13 call. Unfortunately for the Cornhuskers, Murray read the play and hit a wide-open Conley with a quick throw that he turned into an easy six points.

"I may have been that wide open once in my life, but never in college. They brought the house, but it was a great play-call by Coach (Mike) Bobo," Conley said. "But I didn't know I was that open until I was maybe 10 yards down the field. After that I just ran as fast as I could."

Teammate and fellow wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley liked what he saw.

"He runs like a gazelle," Scott-Wesley said. "Those long legs were moving."

Although Murray barely saw the initial grab, he certainly appreciated the view he had of Conley streaking down the middle of the field.

"From the snap, they were pretty much bringing a full-house blitz, bringing everyone. We had a little jailbreak screen. It was either going to be a huge play or a bust. And my job was to try to get it off to him any way I can and he did the rest of the work," Murray said. "It was pretty cool to see. As soon as he caught the ball, there was no one in sight. I mean, it was just everyone on both side lines, a man-to-man coverage, and it was just off to the races for him. It was definitely a huge play for us."

Conley laughed, adding he believes he's faster than some might think.

"I think some people don't think I'm as fast, but I've got long legs," he said. "I've got good speed."

By catching the two passes for a career-best 136 yards, Conley finishes the season with 20 receptions for 342 yards and six touchdowns, the second-most among receivers behind the nine scored by Tavarres King.

"It was a fun day," Conley said. "We just stuck with our game plan and Aaron made some big throws."