UGA’s Jacksonville pinnacle: ‘That was something, wasn’t it?’

Lindsay Scott races to glory against Florida in 1980. (AJC file)

Lindsay Scott races to glory against Florida in 1980. (AJC file)

It’s Georgia-Florida week, which for Dogs fans unfortunately means having to put up with constant reminders that the Gators have dominated the series in recent years.

It wasn’t always that way. During the Vince Dooley era, it was UGA that was dominant in the annual Jacksonville fixture, which yielded many fond memories for Georgia fans — none fonder than the game played on Nov. 8, 1980, that catapulted the Dogs into the No. 1 spot in the polls that they would not relinquish the rest of that football season.

The film clip of the famed Buck Belue-to-Lindsay Scott desperation pass that won the game has been shown so many times over the years that most fans can visualize each second in their minds, complete with the memorable Larry Munson call of the play.

”Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott!” indeed.

Now, however, thanks to filmmaker Lenny Daniel, a fellow graduate of UGA’s Grady College, fans can experience that game — and the entire 1980 season — through the eyes of more than two dozen of those playing and coaching for the national championship Bulldogs.

And in connection with the renewal of the Dogs-Gators rivalry, the producers of “1980 Dawgs: The Inside Story of the National Championship Season” have released an excerpt from the Florida game chapter of the DVD release.

Watching the interview segments and game footage puts you back in the old Gator Bowl on that fateful day, with the participants offering detailed reminiscences of the game then known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Defensive guard Tim Crowe remembers the crowd noise and that the first thing the players smelled when they came out of the locker room was liquor.

Despite coming off a tough game the previous week against South Carolina and soon-to-be Heisman winner George Rogers, Georgia got off to a fast start, with eventual Heisman winner Herschel Walker scoring on one of his patented long runs less than two minutes into the game. The Dogs led 14-10 at halftime but Florida was ahead 21-20 in the fourth quarter thanks to the trouble the Georgia defense had with what rover Chris Welton recalls as offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan’s “cutting edge” short-passing attack with four wideouts, which the Dogs hadn’t seen before. Florida receiver Tyrone Young was practically unstoppable, the old Dogs recall.

Finally, though, when Georgia absolutely had to have a stop to get the ball back, Erk Russell’s defense rose to the occasion, as it did so many times that season, and forced Florida to punt. But the Dogs were backed up deep in their own territory and with just over a minute left it was third-and 12 at Georgia’s own 8-yard line.

The Dogs stuck with their I-formation play-action attack because, defensive end Robert Miles says, “That was our game.” Though Belue notes wryly, “I’m not sure what the play action was about. Florida knew we had to throw the ball.”

It didn’t look good. On the Georgia sideline, Welton and Russell were already talking about what the defense would have to do to get the ball back. Dooley noted that some of the Florida players were already starting to celebrate. But, center Hugh Nall says, “I knew somehow … we were going to win.”

Belue scrambled into the end zone and nearly got sacked, but the unsung hero of the play, right tackle Nat Hudson, peeled off his initial block just in time to deflect a blitzing Gator and allow Belue to find Scott open over the middle.

The plan was just to get a first down and then hopefully get into field goal range so that ever-reliable placekicker Rex Robinson would have a chance to win yet another one for the Dogs. When Scott made the catch, Welton told Russell he was going to get a first down. “Hell no,” Erk said, grabbing Welton in a bear hug and lifting him off the ground, “he’s gonna score!”

Sure enough, Scott turned upfield and hit an “alley” in the Florida coverage and turned on the afterburners. On the sideline, Dooley and other coaches and players, including the injured Nall in a leg cast, raced along with him, mobbing him in the end zone after he scored. The field was pandemonium but Russell summed up the improbable 92-yard play in his inimitable style by saying simply, “That was something, wasn’t it?”

There is, of course, much more on Daniel’s two-DVD set, which runs more than four hours and differs from the 78-minute documentary “1980! UGA National Championship Year Revisited” released on VHS in 1990 in more than just running time. Where the previous film, never issued on DVD, concentrated mostly on game footage supplemented by a few interviews, the new release focuses on the first-hand memories of the players, coaches, sideline reporter Loran Smith and even training assistant (and future TV meteorologist) David Chandley, sportscaster Bill Hartman (whose dad was the volunteer kicking coach) and Ed Legge, who covered the season for the Red & Black student newspaper. Just about the only significant voices missing are Walker and the late Russell.

As a piece of filmmaking, it probably could have benefited from being trimmed by about half, but I doubt many Bulldogs fans will complain about the surplus of anecdotes and memories, which include the fullest telling to date of the infamous “Seagraves initiation” the spring before, in which five Bulldog seniors were punished by Dooley for stealing and barbecuing one of the UGA farm’s prize pigs, an incident cited as a team bonding experience.

It’s all there, including special segments on Munson, Russell, the late Wayne McDuffie, “Mad Dog” Bill Lewis, the late Jimmy Payne, Dooley’s flirtation with his alma mater Auburn between the end of the regular season and the national championship Sugar Bowl game, and what it was like to play for Dooley. (He was the one the players were scared of, not “heart of gold” Russell.) You hear the players talking about how little Walker impressed them in preseason practice — at least, until he dented Jeff Hipp’s facemask in a goal line drill — and how much they loved the fans sitting around the railroad track.

There were a lot of heroes that season besides Belue, Scott and Walker — most notably defender and kick returner extraordinaire Scott Woerner, who just about single-handedly beat Clemson despite not even starting that game. And you’ll find out how scout teamer Terry Hoage came to make the trip to New Orleans and have a chance to block a Notre Dame field goal attempt.

Yes, it’s pure Dawgporn. And never more so than in those on-the-field and sideline memories of the win over the hated Gators. As Scott puts it, “It was magical.”

For more information on the “1980 Dawgs” video, go here.

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138 comments Add your comment

piermontdawgny

October 26th, 2011
10:31 am

first
as in winning the SEC East

GT Joe

October 26th, 2011
10:39 am

Mutts sure love history. Makes them forget the present.

trupert

October 26th, 2011
10:43 am

This is the year we’ll see the long overdue shift in the Time space Continuum as it relates to the Ga- Fla rilvery. As a result, Ga will win by 14 and five years from now Muschamp will be let go because he can’t beat the Dawgs. Go dawgs!!!

Buckhead Dawg

October 26th, 2011
10:44 am

Come this Sunday, I’d like to be reminiscing about the 2011 GA / FLA game.

ramguy68

October 26th, 2011
10:47 am

Everybody including myself remembers the run Lindsey run play but can anyone remember what Fla did after UGA kicked off? There was still time left on the clock.

Charlie

October 26th, 2011
10:48 am

Yeah, I too remember when Georgia was relevant.

ramguy68

October 26th, 2011
10:49 am

GT Joe you shouldn’t be worrying about the Dawgs. You worry about the beating Clemson is going to dish out to Tech.

WDE

October 26th, 2011
10:50 am

That was great beat the Gators this year would be great too ! Go Dogs !

Buckhead Dawg

October 26th, 2011
10:51 am

Tech has the worst football graduation rates in the ACC?? They suck, they’re stupid and they’re nerds…there’s your triple option.

WDE

October 26th, 2011
10:53 am

@Charlie we own the series and we always will remember that!

not so fast my friend

October 26th, 2011
10:54 am

JT Joe do you have a life?

McDawg

October 26th, 2011
10:56 am

its time to live in the present-time to create own memories, legends, myths

class of 86

October 26th, 2011
10:59 am

GT Joe you must be pretty darn stupid to come on this blog and post that. At least we HAVE good history to remember…NOBODY gives a damn what Tech does. Talk about irrelevant!

frank

October 26th, 2011
11:02 am

look for another pinncale this weekend where a Loss is a good thing.

Gets rid of the high diver so we can bring in a real coach that actually wants to win.

Devil's Advocate

October 26th, 2011
11:09 am

Tech still living through Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, and anyone else who can beat UGA more than once every 10 or so years?

Hairy Perry

October 26th, 2011
11:10 am

class of 86,

You have to be corrected on Tech not having any history. They were a real force back in the 40’s.

Hairy Perry

October 26th, 2011
11:13 am

I made a post last night about most of the “GATOR” fans on here being FRAUDS or a.k.a Georgia Tech fans.

speaking of memories...

October 26th, 2011
11:13 am

Which year was it…81 or 82 when we stomped the gators 44-0 and Hershel was literally flying over the line into the end-zone?

Gatorboy62

October 26th, 2011
11:15 am

The DAWGS continue to live in the past…..GO GATORS!

Hairy Perry

October 26th, 2011
11:15 am

I bet at least have the Tech fans would trade a Tech win over Clemson for a UGA loss this weekend.
……………………….PATHETIC.

bart

October 26th, 2011
11:15 am

There was a time when Dawg football was relevant and our fans would not settle for medioccity. Unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore.

BG

October 26th, 2011
11:17 am

Devil's Advocate

October 26th, 2011
11:18 am

When Tech fans say they hate UGA more than they love Tech, that really shows why that program has fallen from their glory days. I wonder how long Paul Johnson will stay if that attitude doesn’t change. A program can’t reach prime time if its fanbase is more concerned with their rival than their own program.

Hairy Perry

October 26th, 2011
11:19 am

Clemson 35 Tech 20

Hairy Perry

October 26th, 2011
11:20 am

Georgia 35 Florida 20

Hairy Perry

October 26th, 2011
11:22 am

It woulb be really wierd if it happened just like that. Just saying.

Bama in Atlanta

October 26th, 2011
11:26 am

According to the headline news it looks like the majority of GT students have plenty of time on their hands since they don’t end up graduating.

Hairy Perry

October 26th, 2011
11:27 am

Have a nice week bulldogs.

Hairy Perry

October 26th, 2011
11:28 am

That’s why they spend all their time on a UGA BLOG!

Had It

October 26th, 2011
11:29 am

Lose to this crippled, weak UF and it’s goodbye CMR!!!

Eisendawg

October 26th, 2011
11:30 am

I bet GT Joe would like to forget the present also. I guess he has his ring for winning the first handful of games this year on order. lol

Slayer

October 26th, 2011
11:32 am

Dawgs win by 17 then whip Bama in SEC Title Game.

DAWG with two bags over head

October 26th, 2011
11:33 am

Talking about that play literally brings tears to my eyes–remembering the hysteria of the play and how far we’ve fallen.

Kim

October 26th, 2011
11:39 am

FINALLY, something to commemorate your 30 year old national championship!!!

kevin

October 26th, 2011
11:41 am

GT Joe
October 26th, 2011
10:39 am,

Speaking of remembering, do you remember 9 out of 10?

bjohndawg

October 26th, 2011
11:42 am

Bill,

We have to move forward. I love 1980 as much as the next Dawg fan, but it is time for this program to be back in the thick of the SEC title and National Championship hunt.

And not romancing Lindsay Scott’s magic moment.

The fans deserve it, the school deserves it.
Go Dawgs!

JL

October 26th, 2011
11:48 am

Lets See, I predict UF 28 UGA 26 Its a Mental Thing.

G'Vegas Dawg

October 26th, 2011
11:48 am

GT Joe (a.k.a pot) – meet kettle.

Dawgs 73

October 26th, 2011
12:00 pm

Back in 1902′, there was this player named Bucky pillow and he could throw the plastic football like nobodies business. They used the under water basket weaving play that made them unstoppable…blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Columbus Dawg

October 26th, 2011
12:03 pm

Bama ain’t going to the SEC Title game.

sprouse27

October 26th, 2011
12:07 pm

We have to go back 30 years for UGA glory against Florida? Should win this one, but the puppies have to get over their fear of Gators to do it. Course if winning the game means we keep CMR, I’m not sure we’ve really won anything. The SEC East is pitiful this year, and the Dawgs’ schedule is the only thing giving them a shot at getting stomped in the SEC Championship by either LSU or Tide.

Richt`s Hammer

October 26th, 2011
12:13 pm

We are going to lose by 50 and Muschamp is going to eat choakdawg after he chows down on the Florida kicker.

athdog

October 26th, 2011
12:15 pm

Bill,
Great story. Good remembrances. I have to agree with bjohn, the time for having our tailgate and other get together stories revolve around a season that is over thirty years past is over…I realize UGA football history is not as rich as that of Alabama, Notre Dame, etc…it just simply isn’t. BUT, the fact that we still cling to 1980 is, well, a tad of an embarrassment. It was a great year. Half of our fans weren’t born yet. Let’s concentrate on starting new memories.
H B T D

4Real

October 26th, 2011
12:18 pm

1980…………1980………..1980, man I wasn’t born until 1982. Why is that picture in Black & White. 1980’s, yes, Black was running from whites by then. I’m from Chicago, who is Linday Scott????

sprouse27

October 26th, 2011
12:20 pm

4Real..- That’s hilarious.

athdog

October 26th, 2011
12:20 pm

Had it…you may be right. I, too, am tired of watching us come out of time outs, only to call a time out….come out of time outs, only to watch us penalized for ’substitution infractions’ (too many on the field) use two time outs before we are five minutes into a game, and enter the second quarter with none left….or even worse, enter the FOURTH quarter with none left. Clock mismanagement, not to mention playcalling (Samuel, with a hurt ankle, trying to get to the corner in the waning minutes against Vandy, only to be hit behind the line…..MORE THAN ONCE……Thomas between the tackles for the last three years…and he’s 170 pounds) We just don’t have much ’sense’ it appears.

Afan

October 26th, 2011
12:24 pm

Thanks to Coach Norris the Defensive coordinator who went and talked to Lindsey after he was trying to join the bad. Of course those that were there at the time know that Lindsey had played ball his whole life and was just trying to scare the yellow jacket faithful in Jesup.
Coach Donaldson likes to try and get the glory for pulling him from the band.
But in actuality it was coach Norris that went and talked to the kid.

PLEASE STOP...

October 26th, 2011
12:25 pm

MY GOD, LET IT GO…1980 WAS 31 YEARS AGO…AND YOU BEAT NOBODY TO WIN THE TITLE…WHAT A JOKE…OPPONENTS WIN PCT. WAS .377…WOW…

swimdawg68

October 26th, 2011
12:27 pm

I was sitting in the Gator Bowl that great day with my brother. He wanted to leave when it was 3rd down (Many dawg fans were leaving). I told him maybe we could get close enough for Robinson to kick a FG, so we stayed. WOW! when Scott went by us (we were on the 25 GA side about 50 rows up I though like Munson the Gator Bowl would collapse.

My freshman year at UGA was Vince’s first year. Many people out there may not remember, but in Vince’s 25 years as HC he NEVER lost to the “water lizards” 2 years in a row. A trend I would like to see happen again in Athens starting with the game on Sat. By the way, I’ll be in attendance as I have been every year since 1964 except for the year was in Vietnam.

UGAKev from Columbus GA

October 26th, 2011
12:27 pm

No offense but I am only 25 years old and was not even alive when the Dawgs won their last National Championship in football. It’s way past time to move on from those days. We should of won 3 national titles during that period. I will never have that feeling of enjoying that run with Hershel Walker. I want us to have new traditions and memories to look back on. We have got to move forward or 1980 will keep us mediocre forever. GO DAWGS!!!