Last year, in the afterglow of my unexpectedly enjoyable journey to Grant Field, I said I’d have to adjust the list of my 10 all-time favorite Georgia victories over Tech in order to accomodate the Dogs’ 2009 upset win over the No. 7 ranked Jackets.
There are a lot to choose from in compiling such a list, fortunately. As I noted last year, I’ve been fortunate to have followed the Dogs through a wonderful era beginning with Vince Dooley’s first team that has seen Georgia dominate Tech 34-12, with the Dogs twice running off seven wins in a row while the Jackets have three times won two in a row and had one streak of three in a row over Jim Donnan. So there have been many more great days for the Red and Black in the in-state rivalry than there have been bad ones.
But these are the wins over the insects of which I’m especially fond …
1964: Georgia wins 7-0 in Athens. The first of Dooley’s 19 wins over the Jackets in 25 seasons was played on a cold, rainy day Between the Hedges. I had to listen to Ed Thilenius call it on radio by my Dad was there and came home damp but extremely happy. A Tech fumble was recovered by the Dogs at the 22, leading to a winning score by Preston Ridlehuber. The Dogs went on to the Sun Bowl while the loss to Georgia kept the Jackets out of the Gator Bowl, which made the win even sweeter.
1971: Georgia wins 28-24 in Atlanta. This nationally televised game on Thanksgiving night was highlighted by one of the greatest Bulldog comebacks ever. Tech had jumped out to a 14-0 lead and led 17-14 at halftime. Led by Andy Johnson, a classmate of mine in junior high and at Athens High School, the Dogs roared back in the second half to take a 21-17 lead, only to see Tech regain the upper hand, 24-21. The Dogs got the ball at their own 30 with 1:29 on the clock and in one of the most memorable Georgia drives of my lifetime Andy’s running and passing moved them downfield, with Jimmy Poulos going over for the winning TD. As I was chatting with Andy at our 40th high school reunion a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help thinking about that night.
1975: Georgia wins 42-26 in Atlanta. Another nationally telecast Thanksgiving night game on ABC saw the Dogs, led by Ray Goff and Glynn Harrison, run wild over Pepper Rodgers’ Jackets in freezing weather. I was watching this at my future wife’s family home just two days before our wedding (Monday will be our 35th anniversary), and their next-door neighbor was a big Tech fan. We promised to touch base after the game. I got to make the victory call.
1978: Georgia wins 29-28 in Athens. The game that cemented Buck Belue’s place in the Bulldog pantheon two years before the national championship. The Jackets were up 20-0 when the freshman quarterback got put into the game late in the first half. Helped by a great Scott Woerner punt return, Belue brought the Dogs back and threw a fourth-quarter scoring pass to Amp Arnold that gave Georgia the choice of kicking the PAT for a tie or going for two points and the win. Dooley the gambler won.
1981: Georgia wins 44-7 in Atlanta. The Dogs were riding high with Herschel Walker, but somehow that week the Atlanta sports media latched onto the idea that Georgia was ripe for an upset and we had to put up with a week of hype for the Jackets. Belue put an end to that nonsense on the first play from scrimmage with an 80-yard scoring strike to Lindsay Scott. Oh yes, and Herschel scored four touchdowns.
1993: Georgia wins 43-10 in Atlanta. Another Thanksgiving Day game on TV. This is the one where a brawl between the two teams broke out late after the Jackets had been mouthing off throughout the game. I can still see Ray Goff pulling players out of the fray like they were children.
1997: Georgia wins 27-24 in Atlanta. Tech took a 24-21 lead and thought it had won the game, but Mike Bobo, who threw four touchdown passes that day, led the Dogs downfield, with four pass plays in 40 seconds. The folks in yellow and white still gripe about the interference flag that helped the Dogs along. I think everyone in my neighborhood probably heard the yell I let out when Corey Allen made that winning catch.
2002: Georgia wins 51-7 in Athens. Total domination from beginning to end for Mark Richt’s SEC champions. Probably the most satisfying performance I’ve ever seen by a Georgia team against Tech. And still one of the best days I can ever recall in Sanford Stadium.
2006: Georgia wins 15-12 in Athens. Tech was the ACC Coastal Division champion and No. 16 in the country while Georgia was unranked. You would have expected Tech to be the overwhelming favorite, but the oddsmakers liked the Dogs by 2. Probably because Reggie Ball was Tech’s QB and no team could get in Ball’s head like Georgia. I remember having no doubt the Dogs would win this game simply because the Jackets still had our favorite QB. It didn’t hurt, though, that Paul Oliver never let Tech’s celebrated receiver, Calvin Johnson, become a factor. My daughter says this is the most exciting game she’s ever seen.
2009: Georgia wins 30-24 in Atlanta. I had not been in Grant Field in decades, but my son took me as a belated birthday treat. Georgia uncharacteristically took the ball after winning the coin toss and set the template for the game by marching down the field on a 10-play scoring drive that saw the Dogs keeping it exclusively on the ground. Washaun Ealey ended up with 183 yards rushing on the night and Caleb King had 166, including a fantastic 75-yard touchdown run where the Jackets trailing after him reminded me of one of Herschel’s scores against Tech way back when. What a sweet walk that was from Grant Field back to the MARTA station amidst all those downcast folks in gold and white and blue!
I had to move a game down to “honorable mention” status in order to get last year’s game into my Top 10, and it was the 1995 game, where Georgia won 18-17 in Atlanta — coincidentally, the last time the Dogs had to beat Tech in order to become bowl-eligible. Hines Ward was still at QB and led Georgia back from 14 points down, with Kanon Parkman’s late field goal providing the difference. As I’ve said before, Ray Goff might not have been much of a coach, but he still managed to win five straight over Tech.
What are your favorite Dog wins over the Jackets?
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