Watching the dancing Bulldogs players crowding the cheerleader stand in front of the UGA student section after Saturday night’s game in Athens, you would have thought you were seeing a team celebrating a victory of major consequence rather than one slightly luckier mediocre team overcoming another mediocre team in an error-plagued match that proved defense is a lost art in this state.
But this was Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, after all, and with the season the 2010 Dogs have endured, taking a tough rivalry game that almost got away from them probably should qualify as a major victory.
With fumbles flying loose with alarming frequency on both sides, the Dogs and Jackets were uncharacteristically charitable in keeping each other in the game, though Georgia was more adept at capitalizing on the turnovers it was given.
For most of the night, Georgia had only sporadic success running the ball but seemed able to throw it at will against a Jackets secondary that gave Dogs receivers plenty of room. In turn, Georgia seemed incapable much of the night of figuring out how to target the pitch man in the Tech option offense, allowing the Jackets to march down the field with such regularity that it seemed the only thing that could stop them was … themselves.
Which is what happened in the end. Tech muffed an extra point that would have tied the game and then, when Georgia went for it on fourth down and failed, rather than padding its 1 point lead with a field goal, the Jackets got the ball back with nearly 3 minutes on the clock and just about everyone in the stands was figuring they’d option-pitch themselves downfield for the winning score.
Instead, Tech’s Paul Johnson dumped the girl he brought to the dance (just as he did in a similar situation last year) and tried throwing it on first down, resulting in a sack. Tech’s QB kept the ball on the next down rather than pitching it out, resulting in another sack. Then came a pair of incomplete passes and Georgia had the ball back with 1:38 on the clock.
The chess match wasn’t over, though. After the Dogs took a knee on first down, Tech called a timeout and then when Georgia decided to run Washaun Ealey instead of taking another knee, the Jackets appeared to let the UGA back score so they could get the ball back with a minute and a half left on the clock.
By that point, of course, they almost had to come out throwing, which is not their strong suit. And then Justin Houston came up with an interception for the Dogs and it really was over this time.
And the Dogs could start dancing, having not only beaten their in-state rival but evened their regular season record at 6-6 and made themselves bowl-eligible for the 14th consecutive year.
In the world of diminished expectations that has become Georgia football this season, that was indeed something worth celebrating.
I’ll be back late Sunday with more thoughts on the Georgia win over Tech. Until then, feel free to share your thoughts on the game.
Find me on Facebook.
Follow me on Twitter.