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I Love Georgia, I Hate Florida
By Patrick Garbin
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2012 Patrick Garbin
All rights reserved.
Games We Love
don't get me wrong, every win over hated Florida is one the Bulldog Nation cherishes, and there have been plenty of them — nearly 50.
Whether Georgia routed the Gators, upset them, kept the rival from winning a conference title, or used the victory to springboard the Bulldogs to a championship of their own, several of these wins stand out slightly more than the rest.
Whatever the reason, here is a countdown of the top 15 Georgia gridiron victories over Florida, all of which made the subsequent 12 months a little better and each Bulldogs-Gators Cocktail Party a little merrier.
No. 15a: 2011
Georgia 24 | Florida 20
The Bulldogs entered the 90th meeting of the rivalry in need of a victory in the worst way. A win over the Gators would give Georgia just its fourth in the series in 22 games since 1990, keep alive its SEC East title hopes, and likely secure the head coaching position of Mark Richt, whose teams had faltered of late, particularly when facing Florida.
Trailing 17–3 late in the second quarter, Richt and his squad seemed destined to fall victim yet again to another comfortable Gators' win in Jacksonville. However, led by a few of the rivalry's freshest faces, Georgia rallied for one the largest comeback victories in the history of the series.
The second of two fourth-down touchdown passes by Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray tied the game in the third quarter. Florida retook the lead with a field goal, but Georgia responded with a shut-down defense and an unstoppable ground game to eventually seize an elusive 24–20 win over the Gators.
After gaining 194 yards of total offense and 10 first downs in the first half, Florida was held to 32 and one, respectively, in the final two quarters. Georgia sacked quarterback John Brantley six times, including four by linebacker Jarvis Jones, who was playing in his first Bulldogs-Gators game. Florida's minus-19 yards rushing was its fewest since netting minus-36 against Auburn in 2001, while Jones' four sacks were the most by a Bulldog since Charles Grant had the same number against Auburn in 2001.
Georgia true freshman Isaiah Crowell gained 81 yards on 18 carries and was complimented by junior Richard Samuel's 58 hard-earned yards on 17 rushes. Samuel, an all-but-forgotten third-string tailback, had his most carries since the 2009 season opener, including one which provided the winning margin — a four-yard touchdown run with 13:18 to play. From there, the Bulldogs continued to hold the Gators offense stagnant while Murray, Crowell, and Samuel ran out the clock for the victory.
"I know it was just a ballgame, but it seemed like a lot more than that," Richt said following just his third win over Florida in 11 tries. "Just to see our players and fans celebrate, in this place especially, was awesome."
No. 15b: 1974
Georgia 17 | Florida 16
There was a time when it appeared the Gators, no matter how superior they may have seemed, simply put, just plain couldn't defeat Georgia, regardless of whether the Bulldogs resembled the weaker of the two teams. Such was the case in 1974.
Florida had started its season winning seven of eight games, was ranked sixth in the nation, and with an SEC championship a seemingly certainty, had already received a premature invitation to play in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia, on the other hand, was amid what would be one of the worst campaigns of the 25-year Coach Vince Dooley era.
The Bulldogs held a 9–0 halftime lead following a short touchdown run by Horace King — one of the first five African Americans given a football scholarship at Georgia — and a safety when Florida backup quarterback Jimmy Fisher slipped and fell in his own end zone. Clumsy Gator ...
Starter Don Gaffney — the first African American quarterback at Florida — was reinserted and guided the Gators to a 10–9 advantage in the final quarter. However, the lead was short-lived as a second King touchdown and a two -point conversion put the Bulldogs back on top 17–10.
As he had done the year before in an 11–10 victory over Georgia, Gaffney led Florida to a touchdown in the final moments, scoring on a four-yard run with 28 seconds remaining. And, for the second consecutive year, Gators head coach Doug Dickey elected to go for the two points and the victory.
In 1973 a successful Gaffney two-point pass had defeated the Bulldogs, but a season later, a similar passing play fell low and wide of fullback Jimmy DuBose for an incompletion.
In the 17–16 Georgia victory, the Bulldogs gained only 263 total yards while allowing a staggering 420. "We stopped them and made the plays when we had to," said Dooley of his defense. "I guess you could say we just bled slowly."
You could also say, for the New Year's Day bowl–bound Gators, their sugar had turned sour by an undistinguished band of Bulldogs.
No. 14: 1959
Georgia 21 | Florida 10
From the end of Georgia's dominance during the 1940s until Coach Vince Dooley arrived in Athens in 1964, Bulldogs football endured mostly hardships for a period of 15 seasons. Unfortunately, during these difficult times for Georgia, Florida's play began to steadily improve after decades of dismal to mediocre performances.
Under head coaches Bob Woodruff and Ray Graves, the Gators defeated the Bulldogs 10 times over a span of 12 seasons, including in eight of nine meetings from 1955 through 1963.
Georgia's one "diamond in the rough" season during this period was its SEC title team of 1959, which won 10 of 11 games, including a thorough whipping of Florida reminiscent of the rivalry's days of old.
The Bulldogs jumped on the Gators early by grabbing a 14–0 first-quarter lead on two touchdown passes. The first was a halfback toss by Bobby Walden after receiving a pitch from quarterback Charley Britt. The second was a 35-yarder from Britt, who actually started over the SEC's leading passer at the time, Fran Tarkenton.
Playing in the rain and ankle-deep mud, Britt was a standout on defense, as well, intercepting a Dick Allen pass, deflected by teammate Pat Dye at his own goal line, and racing 100 yards for a third Georgia touchdown.
Earlier, perhaps Britt's biggest play came when he ran down lightning-fast receiver Bobby Joe Green from behind after a gain of 70 yards to Georgia's 2-yard line. From there, the Gators could not break the end zone in four plays and had to surrender the football.
When asked after the game how he was able to catch the speedy Green, Britt answered, "I heard he runs the 100 in 9.5, and I wanted to see how fast I would have to run to catch somebody that's that fast."
For the game, the only scores the Gators could muster were handed to them by the Bulldogs. A bad snap while Georgia was punting from its end zone resulted in a Florida safety. The Gators also returned an interception for a touchdown in the final quarter.
The following week, Georgia clinched its first SEC championship in 11 years with a victory over Auburn, due in large part to the play of ... you guessed it, Charley Britt, who returned a punt for a touchdown.
Meanwhile, Florida would end its season with consecutive wins over rivals Florida State and Miami (Fla). Nevertheless, it didn't matter for Woodruff, whose fate had been sealed with the Gators' 21–10 loss to Georgia in Jacksonville. He was forced to resign at the end of the season.
No. 13: 1972
Georgia 10 | Florida 7
An unimpressive 1972 Georgia squad entered its annual showdown in Jacksonville far removed from the 11-win edition of the season before. The Bulldogs offense was inept, to say the least, and oddsmakers considered the team a slight underdog even though it had defeated the Gators by six touchdowns the year before.
After three quarters, Florida led Georgia 7–0, and in doing so, handed the Bulldogs its seventh consecutive quarter without scoring a single point. However, these Gators were coached by Doug Dickey — a head coach who would soon make a name for himself over the next several years for his bone-headed decisions and inadvertently becoming a generous friend of the Bulldogs.
Entering Georgia territory with possession of the ball in the final quarter, Dickey inexplicably called for All-SEC back Nat Moore to throw a halfback pass. Moore's "pass," if you want to call it that, was an ugly one as it wobbled into the waiting arms of Bulldogs senior Buzy Rosenberg, who was lined up at linebacker for the first time of his collegiate career.
On second down from Florida's 44-yard line, quarterback Andy Johnson launched a long touchdown pass to Rex Putnal, who nearly did not make the trip because of an injury. Kim Braswell's extra point tied the game.
The Gators had the ball on their own 30-yard line with about two minutes remaining and a 7–7 tie looking like a certainty. That is, until quarterback Chan Gailey, a surprise starter for the game, gave the Bulldogs another gift by losing a fumble.
Three plays netted nine yards, and with less than a minute remaining, Braswell came on to attempt a game-winning 37-yard field goal. Although almost as ugly as Moore's pass, the kick just snuck over the crossbar, clearing it by a mere half yard, and the Bulldogs escaped with the most unlikely of victories.
After the loss, Gators linebacker Ralph Ortega, an eventual All -American but apparently not the sharpest tack in the box, remarked, "It's weird ... right now I feel like we won the game." Teammate Gailey would eventually give even more to the Bulldogs, losing all six games when he faced Georgia as Georgia Tech's head coach from 2002 to 2007.
No. 12: 1983
Georgia 10 | Florida 9
The Bulldogs entered their annual meeting with the Gators in an unfamiliar situation. They were Herschel Walker–less for a Florida game for the first time in four years and an underdog for a regular season game, regardless of the opponent, also for the first time in nearly four years. In addition, Georgia was not favored to defeat the Gators for the first time since 1977.
Nevertheless, the game resulted as many before had, as Florida, which actually appeared to be the better team, flat-out choked and lost for the sixth consecutive time.
Trailing 9–3 late in the third quarter, Georgia began from its own 1-yard line, having gained just 97 total yards to that point, compared to the Gators' 318, but still only trailing by less than a touchdown.
Engineered by senior quarterback John Lastinger, the Bulldogs slowly moved 99 yards in 16 plays, burning 7:26 off the clock, and capped by a Barry Young one-yard scoring run. On the drive, Georgia converted two of three critical third-down plays while the one third down that wasn't converted, the Dogs picked up the first down on the subsequent fourth-down play.
Kevin Butler's extra point gave Georgia a one-point lead, but there was plenty of time remaining. Of course, this was a "jinxed" Gators program the Bulldogs were facing ...
In the final minutes, a celebratory smoke bomb was hurled from the Gator Bowl stands onto the playing field. With it, Florida's opportunity to finally defeat Georgia had once again gone up in smoke. In their last 10 meetings, the Bulldogs had defeated the Gators nine times, in seven of which Florida had the lead during the fourth quarter.
When asked why it seemed the Bulldogs had a mystique about them while the Gators seemed jinxed, senior tight end Clarence Kay vividly responded, "Character. You've got to have the character, baby," he said to a newspaper reporter. "You tell the printer that tomorrow. Character."
No. 11: 1954
Georgia 14 | Florida 13
After 32 meetings, the annual Bulldogs-Gators game finally meant more to both schools than just bragging rights and the partying. In the past, only one squad — routinely, Georgia — was playing to continue a quest for a conference title. In 1954, however, the Dogs and Gators entered the game positioned at second and third, respectively, in the 12-member SEC standings.
Besides shooting for a championship, Georgia was also seeking revenge. After absolutely dominating the series from the start, the Bulldogs proved there was a first time for everything and dropped consecutive games to Florida in 1952 and 1953 by a combined 51–7 score.
Florida fumbled the ball on the game's first play from scrimmage, which was recovered by Georgia's John Bell at the Gators' 45 -yard line. On a critical third-down play, Roy Wilkins, who was playing with two injured ankles, caught a 28-yard pass from Jimmy Harper. Shortly thereafter, Harper scored on a quarterback sneak. Florida tied the game but soon the Bulldogs offense was on the move again. Bob "Foots" Clemens' touchdown run gave the squad a 14–7 advantage over the favored Gators at halftime.
In the third quarter, a Harper errant pass was intercepted and returned 67 yards to Georgia's 7-yard line. Two plays later, Bob Davis rushed for a score. However, in Florida's attempt to tie the game, Wilkins, bum ankles and all, leapt in front of Ed Bass' all -important extra-point attempt and blocked it.
The game ended with the Bulldogs running out the clock following a Gators turnover — one of five on the day for Florida, compared to just one for Georgia. Notwithstanding, perhaps the most important statistic of the game: Bulldogs 2-of-2 on point-after kicks, Gators 1-of-2.
Alas, by season's end there would be no championship for either team (not even a winning record for Florida, we might add), just bragging rights for the Bulldogs. Georgia would have to wait five years for its next SEC championship while Florida needed almost four entire decades for its first.
No. 10: 1976
Georgia 41 | Florida 27
In the first Georgia-Florida meeting when both teams entered ranked in the top 10, the Bulldogs benefitted from a "dumb" fourth-down call that generated momentum and, for the third consecutive season, dashed the Gators hopes of an SEC title.
A commanding 14-point Florida halftime lead was cut in half in the third quarter following a touchdown pass from Georgia quarterback and eventual head coach, Ray Goff.
Midway through the third quarter while maintaining a 27–20 lead, Florida faced fourth-and-1 from its own 29-yard line. That's when Doug Dickey, the Gators' foolhardy head coach, decided to strike once again with a gamble against the Bulldogs. And, like the few times before, Dickey's gamble backfired.
Florida's decision to go for the first down seemingly shocked everyone but the Bulldogs. As television play-by-play man Keith Jackson wondered aloud if Georgia would come after the Gators' punt or try to set up a return, Florida lined up in its offensive formation. Analyst Ara Parseghian exclaimed, "Oh, they're going for it. ... Looka' here!"
Running back Earl Carr took a pitch and circled to his left only to be pulled down around his collar short of the first down by cornerback Johnny Henderson. Six plays later, a short touchdown run by fullback Al Pollard and successful point-after try tied the game.
In the final quarter, it was all Bulldogs, who scored two touchdowns on runs by Goff. Goff was named the game's offensive MVP, completing all five of his passes, including two for touchdowns, while rushing for 124 yards and three more scores.
Following the game, with even his own players questioning the coach's gamble on fourth down, Dickey admitted, "I made some dumb calls." A Jacksonville newspaper agreed in its Sunday edition, titling a piece covering the game, "Fourth and Dumb."
No. 9: 1964
Georgia 14 | Florida 7
As Georgia warmed up prior to its kickoff against Florida in 1964, much of the Bulldogs' student section in the Gator Bowl began chanting something not heard in quite a while by the UGA football squad: "Damn good team, damn good team, damn good team ..."
Following an SEC title in 1959, Georgia recorded a 16–20–4 combined mark over the next four seasons. What's worse, this included an unfathomable 0–4 record against the Gators.
A young Coach Vince Dooley arrived in Athens and promptly turned around the team's misfortunes as the Bulldogs entered Jacksonville with a respectable 4–2–1 record. However, next on the schedule were the mighty and ninth-ranked Gators, who had been dubbed by Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant as the strongest team he had ever faced. Furthermore, the Florida team was even recognized by its own coach, Ray Graves, as "the finest team in Florida's history."
Early on, it appeared Coach Graves was quite possibly correct in his assessment. Sophomore quarterback Steve Spurrier drove the Gators 83 yards to a second-quarter touchdown and a 7–0 lead. Florida threatened to score a couple other times prior to halftime but came up empty. However, with the Gators defense holding Georgia to just 40 total yards and one first down the entire first half, it seemed Florida was in no need of any additional scoring.
The second half was another story as the Bulldogs began to run the ball with ease against perhaps an over-confident Florida defense. Fred Barber's two-yard touchdown run and Bobby Etter's extra point tied the game with 13:11 remaining.
Excerpted from I Love Georgia, I Hate Florida by Patrick Garbin. Copyright © 2012 Patrick Garbin. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
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