Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, left, passes the ball against Coastal Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, in Athens, Ga. Georgia defeated Coastal Carolina 59-0. (AP Photo/Erik S. Lesser)
ATHENS, -- Georgia's largest margin of victory in 17 years gave the Bulldogs a needed lift after losses to two ranked teams.
Aaron Murray passed for three touchdowns and also ran for a score -- all in the first half -- and Georgia overwhelmed Coastal Carolina 59-0 on Saturday.
It was Georgia's most lopsided win since beating Northeast Louisiana 70-6 in 1994.
"The guys did about as good as I could ask them to do," said coach Mark Richt.
Georgia (1-2) regrouped after losses to Boise State and South Carolina which raised the pressure on Richt. The Bulldogs, who led 35-0 at halftime, won for the first time since beating Georgia Tech on Nov. 27.
"It's been too long," said cornerback Brandon Boykin, who helped a new-look defense hold Coastal Carolina, the FCS team from the Big South Conference, to seven first downs and 112 total yards.
Georgia needed the boost before starting a stretch of five straight Southeastern Conference games, beginning with next week's visit to Mississippi.
"I think we've got something to show in the SEC," Boykin said.
Murray, who played only one series in the second half, completed 18 of 26 passes for 188 yards with no interceptions. Backup Hutson Mason added a touchdown pass.
"Today was a great game and really got some guys fired up," Murray said. "I think we're ready to get back into SEC play and get going again. We have a lot of guys playing great football right now, and we think we can play with anyone."
Freshman Isaiah Crowell had 16 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown in his first start. Tavarres King had six catches for 65 yards, including two for touchdowns. Malcolm Mitchell had six catches for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Backup tailback Carlton Thomas had 15 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Coastal Carolina (2-1) lost three turnovers, including two third-quarter fumbles on kickoffs. Georgia had nine tackles for losses.
"Georgia is the team we thought they were," said Coastal Carolina coach David Bennett, who this week predicted the Bulldogs will recover from their 0-2 start to be a top 10 team.
"After watching the film and studying, we had the ultimate respect for them. We had a lot of mistakes against a really good team."
Georgia added more urgency to its no-huddle attack. Instead of looking back at the sideline for plays, Murray often worked in what Richt called a high-tempo mode, quickly bringing the offense back to the line and calling the plays before the Chanticleers' defense could send in substitutions.
"We have faith in our guys on offense to run the high-tempo," Richt said. "There are a lot of benefits from going high-tempo, and we'll continue to do that and master that. We'll keep getting better as the season goes along."
The other notable change for Georgia was four new defensive starters. Shawn Williams moved from safety to start at inside linebacker, following injuries to starters Alec Ogletree and Christian Robinson the last two weeks. Sanders Cummings moved from cornerback to take Williams' spot at safety, and Branden Smith moved up to start at cornerback.
Also, John Jenkins moved from nose tackle, where he had been playing behind Kwame Geathers, to start at defensive end as DeAngelo Tyson was held out with a back injury.
Receiver Marlon Brown (ankle) and running back Richard Samuel (heel) did not play.
Richt said Williams will remain at linebacker for at least one more week.
Georgia's only turnover came when safety Bacarri Rambo intercepted a pass from Aramis Hillary in the second quarter but fumbled at the end of his 38-yard return.
Murray played only one series in the second half, setting up Blair Walsh's career-long 56-yard field goal.
"I wanted to see him drill one," said Richt of Walsh, who topped his previous long field goal of 53 yards. The 56-yarder was Georgia's longest since 2005, when Brandon Coutu made a 58-yarder.
Coastal Carolina lost two fumbles on kickoffs to set up third-quarter touchdowns. Mason had a 33-yard touchdown pass to Orson Charles and Thomas had a 17-yard scoring run. Mason also had a 1-yard touchdown run.
Third-string quarterback Parker Welch took over in the fourth quarter.
Coastal Carolina starting quarterback Aramis Hillary was 10-of-15 passing for 27 yards with an interception. Jeremy Height had five carries for 19 yards and three catches for 13 yards.
Georgia's streak of 64 straight home sellouts ended. Official attendance was 91,946, below the capacity of 92,746. There were at least several thousand empty seats.
The last time Georgia did not have a sellout at Sanford Stadium was Nov. 25, 2000, in Jim Donnan's last home game as coach against Georgia Tech.