Week nine of the 2011 college football season yielded jubilation in Jacksonville for Georgia Bulldog Nation. At times the game was bowling shoe ugly, but, in the end the Dawgs dropped the Gators by a final score of 24-20. Georgia has won six games in a row, while Florida is left to pick up the pieces having lost four straight. However, there won’t even be a crocodile tear shed here.
The latest chapter in the “Florida vs Georgia Football Classic” was not about a singular moment or key play. Ultimately, It was about a Georgia football team and their fan base being desperate for redemption after almost two full decades of torture from a despised rival. In the post-game interview on CBS, Georgia head coach Mark Richt echoed that sentiment when he said that he was not thinking about the SEC East at the moment, he just wanted to enjoy the win with his football team.
Georgia was far from perfect in victory, but the Bulldogs answered the bell at every key moment. On the first play from scrimmage, the Dawgs chased down Jeff Demps and prevent him from scoring on a 72 yard screen pass. As a result of their effort, Georgia was able to force Florida kicker Brad Philips into a 38 yard field goal try that he missed.
In the second quarter the Georgia Bulldogs found themselves in desperation mode. The Dawgs were down 17-3 and needed a score to help the dwindling morale of players and fans alike. On fourth down with five yards to go, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray hit wide receiver Michael Bennett with a 20 yard touchdown pass that gave Bulldog Nation hope. Georgia headed into halftime trailing only 17-10.
Turnovers sealed Georgia’s fate in the previous visit to Jacksonville, but, this year it was Florida’s turn to fumble their lead away. Gator receiver Frankie Hammond coughed up the football on the Florida 18 yard line and the Bulldogs were there to pounce on the gift. It took all four downs, but, Aaron Murray found wide receiver Tavarres King with a 14 yard touchdown pass on fourth down to tie the game and send Bulldog Nation into a frenzy.
With Georgia trailing 20-17 entering the final frame, the game began to resemble that of a heavyweight title fight in the late rounds. Both teams were battered and each was trying to land a decisive blow. To the delight of Dawg fans, the knockout punch came in the form of Richard Samuel, embattled running back who had struggled to identify his role on the team.
Richard Samuel took it upon himself to do his part in helping the Georgia offense as he ran through tackles, and, pounded the tired Gator defense into submission. After a pass interference penalty kept a Georgia drive alive early in the fourth quarter, the Dawgs rode on the back of Samuel as he scored on a four yard touchdown run. Georgia Bulldogs 24, Gators 20.
Georgia denied Florida’s attempts to take back the lead as they were determined to leave Jacksonville, Florida on a high note. When Georgia got the football back with 5:32 left to go in the game the Bulldogs knew they could not give the Gators another opportunity. Following a surprising 18 yard throw to wide out Chris Conely, Georgia was poised to run out the clock.
Georgia’s season defining battle with Florida had some of the key elements of Bulldog success that have been highlighted by this blog. Mark Richt made two gutsy fourth down calls that led to euphoria, Georgia executed a textbook drive before halftime that gave them momentum, but, there is apparently something wrong with kicker Blair Walsh.
Maddawg’s Play Of The Day belongs to Richard Samuel. It is dedicated to every member of Bulldog Nation that believed Georgia would turn their Jacksonville fortune around. For those that stand by Mark Richt for as long as he is our football coach, yesterday was a small measure of vindication. If we can get a little help from the Razorbacks, or even the Gators, maybe the Georgia Bulldogs can shock the college football world by taming the LSU Tigers, or turning back the Alabama Crimson Tide.