ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Nick Chubb said seeing Isaiah McKenzie making big plays early in the game was a great sign that Georgia was headed for a win.
McKenzie scored on big plays the first two times he touched the ball, including a punt return that set a school record, and Georgia beat turnover-prone Louisiana-Lafayette 35-21 on Saturday.
McKenzie scored on a 55-yard run on Georgia’s first play and added another touchdown on an 82-yard punt return midway through the first quarter. McKenzie, a junior, set a school record with his fifth career punt return for a touchdown. He set another mark with his sixth touchdown on all kick returns.
“I enjoyed it,” said Chubb of McKenzie. “Every time he plays well, we wind up getting the victory. He’s a big part of our offense.”
It was McKenzie’s first return for a touchdown this season. He said he knew he needed one more for the school record but was starting to think time was running out this season.
“I’ve been thinking about that since I heard about being close to breaking it,” McKenzie said.
Chubb ran for 108 yards and a touchdown and caught a 49-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Eason in the fourth quarter.
Georgia (7-4) has won three straight and avoided a letdown after last week’s upset of then-No. 8 Auburn.
Louisiana-Lafayette (4-6) was hurt by four turnovers. Anthony Jennings threw three interceptions, all in the first half. He ran for 98 yards and three touchdowns.
Georgia led 35-7 after Chubb’s scoring catch. The Ragin’ Cajuns closed the deficit on Jennings’ touchdown runs of 1 and 13 yards late in the game.
Seeing his backups struggle late sapped some of the joy out of the win for Georgia coach Kirby Smart.
“It was frustrating to walk out with that feeling,” Smart said. “You feel like you should walk out of a game and feel good about what you did. The guys we put in the game just didn’t play real well on either side of the ball.”
Jennings’ 64-yard pass to Al Riles set up his 9-yard scoring run late in the first half.
Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth said McKenzie’s early touchdowns were too much to overcome.
“We dug ourselves a hole early in the game,” Hudspeth said. “… We just gave them a little too much too early.”
Eason’s 9-yard scoring pass to tight end Isaac Nauta gave the Bulldogs a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.
Georgia wore black jersey’s for the first time since 2008.
Louisiana-Lafayette: The Ragin’ Cajuns fell far short of the clean game they needed to beat Georgia. McGuire’s 124 yards rushing helped move the offense, but the turnovers were too much to overcome. The Ragin’ Cajuns must win their last two games to become bowl-eligible.
Georgia: The Bulldogs, perhaps motivated by a flat performance in a narrow win over Nicholls early in the season, showed good focus. The defense delivered three fourth-down stops. Chubb has back-to-back 100-yard games for the first time this season.
C FOR CAJUNS
Louisiana-Lafayette defensive back Tracy Walker said his team couldn’t afford to fall behind 21-0.