NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Georgia Bulldogs now have a much easier path to a berth in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

D.J. Shockley threw three touchdown passes, Thomas Brown rushed for 91 yards and the No. 5 Bulldogs beat Vanderbilt 34-17 Saturday night in a rare SEC East showdown with a team that has been the league’s worst team for decades.

Instead, Shockley remains undefeated as a starter along with the Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0) who have a two-game division lead with the victory and Florida’s 21-17 loss to No. 10 LSU earlier Saturday.

That put an end to Vanderbilt (4-3, 2-2) trying to grab a share of the Eastern Division lead or turn in the best start in school history, a feat that still belongs to the 1915 Commodores.

The Bulldogs improved to 18-2 on the road under coach Mark Richt. The SEC’s top offense rolled up 446 yards. Shockley was 15-of-30 for 298 yards, and Brandon Coutu also kicked field goals of 40 and 28 yards.

Georgia, with two defensive starters already out because of injuries, lost tackle Kedric Golston in the first quarter with an injury to his left elbow. That helped the Commodores roll up 324 yards offense, but the Bulldogs still sacked Jay Cutler four times.

The Commodores, trying to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1982, had a chance to pull within six late in the third quarter after Cassen Jackson-Garrison broke loose for a 50-yard run to the Georgia 34.

Marlon White was running wide open toward the end zone, but Cutler’s pass went through his hands so cleanly the ball bounced off his knee. Vandy instead settled for a 45-yard field goal by Bryant Hahnfeldt and pulled to 27-17 with 3:55 left in the third.

Vanderbilt then forced Georgia to punt for the first time in six possessions, but the Commodores couldn’t pick up a first down. Hahnfeldt stood on his goal line waiting for the snap to punt, and Tyson Browning broke through for the block.

Shockley found Bryan McClendon three plays later on an 18-yard TD pass he may have dropped. The play was reviewed but ruled good for a 34-17 lead in the opening minute of the fourth that sealed the victory.

The Bulldogs started a little slowly, a bit of an expected letdown for any team going from the SEC’s biggest stadium at Tennessee where they played last week before more than 108,000 to the league’s smallest where Vanderbilt’s biggest crowd this season still was just 38,822.

Georgia got going in the second quarter by scoring 17 points and rolling up 234 yards offense for a 17-7 halftime lead.

Kregg Lumpkin got Georgia on the board by capping an 81-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run with 13:34 left in the quarter.

Vanderbilt had some good bounces early such as when Jackson-Garrison fumbled, the ball popped right to White. The Commodores tied the game at 7 by answering with an 80-yard drive of their own.

Jackson-Garrison scored on a 4-yard run that left Golston with an injured left elbow. He had to be helped off the field.

Shockley made it 14-7 with a 10-yard TD toss to Brannan Southerland with 4:13 left in the quarter, and Coutu added his first field goal as time expired.

AP-ES-10-15-05 2243EDT

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