Heartbreaking loss to Auburn ruins one of Georgia’s greatest comebacks ever

Aaron Murray was big for the Dogs Saturday with both his passing and his running. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Aaron Murray was big for the Dogs Saturday with both his passing and his running. (Jason Getz / AJC)

That was, without a doubt, the wildest, craziest fourth quarter of Georgia football I’ve seen since run-Lindsay-run in 1980.

And absolutely heartbreaking for anyone who calls themselves a Dawg.

A Georgia team that was trailing Auburn by 20 points with 12:39 left on the clock clawed its way back into the game thanks to the incredible play of its senior quarterback and took a 38-37 lead with 1:49 left. It was as if Aaron Murray was willing his team not to lose this one despite plenty of reasons that it should have.

And then, with a mere 36 ticks left, the Tigers faced fourth-and-18 and former Bulldog player Nick Marshall launched a Hail Mary pass that was off-target and yet in miracle fashion was tipped by a Georgia defender and landed in the hands of Auburn receiver Ricardo Louis, who took it in for a score.

That play was one of the most deflating moments in my more than five decades of watching Georgia football.

Even then, it wasn’t quite over, though. An Auburn 2-point conversion attempt failed. Getting the ball back with just 25 seconds left, the amazing Murray — who was 33 of 49 for 415 yards in the air, threw two touchdown passes and scored two more running — brought his team racing downfield and wound up on the Auburn 20 with enough time left for two throws.

As Mark Richt said after the game, “we were very close to having a double miracle — one for us, one for them.”

But, as Richt noted, “It just didn’t quite happen.”

Richard Louis gets the winning score for Auburn on a freak play. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Richard Louis gets the winning score for Auburn on a freak play. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Some folks might be inclined to blame Tray Matthews and Josh Harvey-Clemons for not batting that pass down like they’ve been taught to, which would have ended the game with a Georgia win, instead of going for an unnecessary pick.

But, actually, Georgia even being in a position to win at that point was in defiance of the sloppy, discombobulated game the Dogs played in the first half (particularly a horrible first quarter).

Yes, Auburn’s uptempo offense was all it was advertised to be, and more, as Marshall and the Tigers burned Georgia on quite a number of passing plays in addition to looking unstoppable at times with the run.

But Auburn got a number of big helping hands in the first half from Georgia’s offensive line, which had awful pass protection when it wasn’t getting called for false starts, and from the Dogs’ continued lousy special teams play and coaching. (It was also a terribly officiated game — by the Penn Wagers crew, natch — but that burned both teams.)

So, overall, the Dogs put themselves in quite a hole, and yet still nearly won the game thanks not just to the offense battling back but also to Georgia’s defense getting some big second-half stops due to more aggressive playcalling by Todd Grantham.

Had the Dogs played the first three quarters like they played the last one, we’d be talking about what a bust the No. 7-ranked Tigers turned out to be.

In the end, as Eric Zeier put it afterward, it was a game Georgia had no business being in and yet had no business losing.

To do so on a freak play hurts, yes. But the fact that Georgia was in a position to win the game at that point says a lot about the never-say-die attitude of this team and its scrappy quarterback.

That’s my take on the game. Feel free to share your own, but keep it civil.

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

343 comments Add your comment

Phil

November 16th, 2013
10:18 pm

“Why is Penn Wagers ever calling another GA game. Some many obvious trumped up calls but the missed holding call by 73 left tackle on the miracle would have never happened cause Ray Drew would have planted Marshall, sad sick feeling after this RIP OFF,”

Exactly, Penn Wagers has a grudge against Georgia ever since the Florida game a few years back in the “Celebration Game”. How the SEC allows him to officiate any Georgia game is beyond me. It’s absolute blatant biased he has against us.

Even with that said, our team fought hard and made a great comeback. Had the game won. 4th down and Auburn throws a hail mary and alll we need to do is knock it down. There was no need to fight over it, try to intercept it, tip it up, just knock it down and we win the game. Very disappointing.

Phil

November 16th, 2013
10:21 pm

David,
Yes that last play was helmet to helmet but Penn Wagers would not call that. He holds a grudge against us, no way he calls that.

Chuck Allison

November 16th, 2013
10:22 pm

UGA may not win a lot of football games but they still lead the world in recruiting. I don’t know how they do it. I think most of their players have no other ambition but to go to the NFL.

honeybobo

November 16th, 2013
10:25 pm

poor uga, everybody wins but you…boo hoo all those five stars and nothing to show for it, victims of pitifulness

RRTracker

November 16th, 2013
10:26 pm

Ow. That one hurt. Coach Richt wanted have any luck at all if it weren’t for bad luck.

You know what they saw about Karma?

Really, you gotta play hard for more than one quarter if you expect to beat a top 10 team, we kind of all are used to this since 2010.

5 yards short in 2012.

Now the injury bug and the Marshall Miracle in 2013.

Lady luck ain’t smiling on Coach Richt.

Chuck Allison

November 16th, 2013
10:26 pm

It is good that Penn Wagers has enough courage to make the calls that go against UGA. Many officials have been disciplined for making calls that cost UGA a football game. I am sure the SEC bosses will try to intimidate him over his courageous calls today. Thank you, Penn. Integrity is the mark of a real man.

Chbeyer

November 16th, 2013
10:27 pm

Grantham must go. With him coaching defense, the offense has to score 50 to be assured of winning. He is worse than willie. If richt keeps him he is to blame

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 16th, 2013
10:28 pm

Tide Rolling

you dont know sarcasm do you

sick of Richt

November 16th, 2013
10:29 pm

I am so sick of Mark Richt and his mediocrity that he has gotten the last dollar of my meager to him, but big to me donation.

RRTracker

November 16th, 2013
10:29 pm

There were 4 catastrophic mistakes in this game:
a) Coach Richt’s penalty cost us 7 points a little later
b) the penalty of the punt cost another 7–14 so far
c) Murray’s int led to another 7–now 21 easy points
d) tipping it to the wide receiver at the end–cost another 7–28 points

Gets old man, really does.

ShowMeYurTD's

November 16th, 2013
10:30 pm

Luck is opportunity meets preparedness…….Mark Richt’s team is not prepared, EVER

RRTracker

November 16th, 2013
10:32 pm

Defense did their job except for that freak play and dealt with huge mistakes by Coach Richt on the penalty, Murray’s turnover, the punt team snafu, held them to a field goal in the red zone several times.

Murray played well in the 4th quarter.

RRTracker

November 16th, 2013
10:37 pm

Wish we’d gone with Nick Marshall at Qb instead of Richt overreacting and kicking Marshall off to go with Murray. Hindsight, going with Murray was a huge mistake, he just doesn’t win these big games, made some plays in the 4th, slept through the first 2 1/2 quarter, not good enough.

Marshall Kid just wins games, somehow makes plays when he has to. Next year need to get the Qb position right, not about whose personality you like best.

Skokie Dog

November 16th, 2013
10:37 pm

I take full responsibility for this loss. I watched the entire game up to the point that Georgia scored to make it AU 37, UGa 24. I was even wearing my red shirt today. I went to dinner and returned, stunned to see UGa up by one. Then I saw the miracle AU touchdown and the final futile attempt by the ‘Dogs to score a last-second TD. Had I simply not turned the TV back on, I bet we’d be celebrating tonight. Oh well, the salmon was tasty anyway. I hope that you’ll forgive me for jinxing this team.

RRTracker

November 16th, 2013
10:40 pm

Ok, so this is what it feels like to lose 4 games a season, 4 years in a row.

6-4 with this kind of talent? Unacceptable, really is.

People should be fired. Ad, coaches, assistants, somebody ain’t doing their job well at all.

sick of Richt

November 16th, 2013
10:42 pm

The defense didn’t show up until the 4th quarter, and still managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Todd grantham has got to go. Whether it’s a squad of nfl caliber players like last year or a largely high school group on the field now, he couldn’t coach a shark to blood. Cut the losses and get rid of this loser.

Sinclair dawg

November 16th, 2013
10:44 pm

Looks like UGA will head to a crappy, “who cares” bowl game.

RRTracker

November 16th, 2013
10:44 pm

Looking ahead, Kentucky played Vandy tough today, and GT has the same record as UGA, so looking like 6-7 again like 2010 after the Shreveport Bowl game loss.

can’t believe we let the Marshall kid escape from this team and not start at Qb at UGA–looks like serious Heisman potential hardware. What a HUGE mistake and absolutely HORRIBLE decision.

Dirty Dawg

November 16th, 2013
10:45 pm

Hey, next year is your year………..just like every year! Hunker Down to a 6-4 record-yet another under achieving year.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 16th, 2013
10:47 pm

wait til next year……right kool-aiders

Dirty Dawg

November 16th, 2013
10:47 pm

By the way, thoroughly enjoying the replay of the Hail Mary!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 16th, 2013
10:50 pm

I thought the defense turned the corner?

sick of Richt

November 16th, 2013
10:50 pm

Richt is not paid millions for “moral victories”.

RRTracker

November 16th, 2013
10:52 pm

Game kind of went the way I thought it would for 3 quarters, I thought Auburn missed some opportunities to put the game away in the third quarter, but overall, kind of what you expected, the top 10 9-1 team looked a lot better than the top 25 6-3 team.

But that 4th quarter, think it was a combo of Auburn getting too conservative, and Georgia not making self defeating catastrophic mistakes, until the end on the tipped pass. I figured Auburn would score 45, and UGA maybe 28, I didn’t expect that game to end up that close.

Let down city

November 16th, 2013
10:53 pm

How’s the bus ride home? Bet everyone is whining and heads are hanging low……..really low……

tmc

November 16th, 2013
10:55 pm

IF either of the two defensive backs do what they should have done (knock the ball down and not go for the INT)… UGA wins.
Plain and simple. Either players not listening to coaches or coaches not preparing the players for the situation…
More extreme frustration and disappointment with a Coach Mark Richt team.

UGA Hoops

November 16th, 2013
10:55 pm

Hey, at least UGA looked good against GT in hoops last night! Oh, that’s right…..they lost. Looks like Fox and Grantham are the real deal.

bald dawg

November 16th, 2013
10:57 pm

cant deside to play hard in the forth quarter finally and then think you was robbed of a win! got to get your ass in the game for at lest 3 qts!! if you dont play a whole game then this is what happens. our hart has only been in 1 game for 4 qts in the last 5 years! that is a coaching problem!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 16th, 2013
10:57 pm

I didnt expect Auburn to score more than 24 points

The defense had turned the corner; I thought

sick of Richt

November 16th, 2013
10:57 pm

This “coach” is a known quantity. How could he, with all the talent in this state, with all the money that’s given to that program, as the head of the flagship university’s football team (with no in-state rival for recruiting) be as unsuccessful against decent competition as he has and keep his job?

CHDawg

November 16th, 2013
11:01 pm

Come on Dawgs. Tide rolling on a Georgia blog badmouthing us while his team is suffering a nail-biter with MS State? I don’t think so. Troll alert. #1- Great job by Auburn’s staff–they took a pitiful team and they are playing over their heads and in the top ten in just one year! They beat a better UGA team tonight with good coaching and a lot of help from another biased, anti-UGA ref crew. Maybe they are the same guys? #30 roughed Murray so bad on one play, CBS ran the Fairley cheap shots to compare the hits! Unbelievable. 30 seconds to go in the first half the same #30 targets Murray, leaving his feet and becoming a projectile helmet first into the back of Murray’s head. Not only was the ref watching, he patted #30, (may have been trying to pull him off Murray). Unbelievable. Ten times worse than any UGA ejection this year! Final play of the game, #30 targets Murray again–helmet to helmet and leaving his feet–I guess those rules don’t apply to Georgia opponents. The six inch leap, and the fumble call, I could go on. Pitiful. Great job Murray and receivers! Did I say, great job Aaron Murray. You will be missed.

Delbert_D

November 16th, 2013
11:04 pm

Tough loss for Georgia, but that was the most exciting finish to a game I’ve seen in a long time.

RRTracker

November 16th, 2013
11:06 pm

Didn’t like Murray’s decision making on the last play, at least throw it in the end zone and give a playmaker a chance like Marshall did with his receiver at the end. Might have gotten a tipped ball, you never know.

Bobo means dumb in Spanish

November 16th, 2013
11:07 pm

I sphear people say, “well just wait, because we will be loaded next year”. I got news for you, if Richt, Bobo, and Grantham are back, then we aren’t loaded!

Castle pine canine

November 16th, 2013
11:09 pm

Wow, my guess is that we are a darn good team! Fundamentals is what cost us 4 games so far! Blocking poor, tacking fair, special teams, with the exception of punt coverage and field goals is pitiful

We will improve, we have all year, Murray has been great, O line not so much!

sick of Richt

November 16th, 2013
11:09 pm

What’s the difference between Mark Richt and a lottery scratch off? Nothing! Both have 1 in a million chances of wing big!

sick of Richt

November 16th, 2013
11:11 pm

Winning big.

The Monger

November 16th, 2013
11:13 pm

This is the most joy I have had as a Bulldog fan, You Richt huggers are delusional. So with the loss we head from the Outback Bowl to the Music City Bowl…. BIG DEAL!!! We ALREADY HAD 3 losses on the season, and this just makes it for. Richt has backed into the SEC Championship game TOO MANY times already the past couple seasons, why do we need another one? So the subpar coach Richt can keep his job one more year? So we can see more unprepared, underperforming teams of his go 7-5 and 8-4? So we can see more 4th and 23 and 4th and 18 passes completed on this defense? So we can see undisciplined football with 20 penalties a game? So we can see Richt and Grantham give up 40 plus points a game? I just pray we lose to Kentucky and Tech so we can call this season a wrap and show Richt and Grantham the door. Remember guys, before all the Auburn fails in the 4th quarter, they were beating us 37-17. The comeback in the game, and the comeback in Richt’s career was too little too late. I would say you will be missed “coach” Richt, but you and your 8-5 seasons with top 10 talent will not. Good bye and Good Riddance.

GoDawgs

November 16th, 2013
11:18 pm

The Vandy loss had me thinking 8-4. We will win next week, but with our defense being the way it has been all season, I guarantee you that Tech game is going to be a shootout. I guess Richt will get another shot at trying to get the defense right. We haven’t had a truly good one since VanGorder left.

CHDawg

November 16th, 2013
11:20 pm

We have a lot of fans who are hiding from reality: we have one of the youngest D’s ever fielded with one senior and a freshman everywhere you look. Coaches are still trying to turn them into an SEC D. The had the talent and needed to put up 45-50 each game to win. The key was the line, but the injuries were devastating. Still, our tackles have looked like they drugged on each of the losses. How can you just let the ends run right around you? I would believe they were better, but I saw our tackles manhandle SC and LSU and Florida. So why do they let down against Clemson, Vandy, Missouri and Auburn? They can block with the best when they want to. I just don’t believe #30 can outrush Clowney. Sorry. He definitely seems to have talked to Fairley, though.

CHDawg

November 16th, 2013
11:21 pm

The offense had the talent, and we needed

UGA AD will do nothing at all. Not a thing, folks.

November 16th, 2013
11:29 pm

McGarity, the UGA AD, will do not one thing about the football coaching staff. Not one thing.

If UGa wins 8 or 9 in 2014, he will say UGa turned the corner.

UGA is mired up in mediocrity.

As a UGA grad, i am sickened by the Dream Team noise and the Finish The Drill crap. CMR has no ability to win big anymore. TXAM and MIZZO coaches are superior to UGA, as is Vandy and AU. Florida will hire a new staff and UGA will be stuck in the lower level of the SEC East. Ole Miss will be passing UGA in 2014,

UGA wants to be UNC is everything. Lousy football and great academics. CMR knows that. THAT is WHY he lacks FIRE in THE BELLY

RRTracker

November 16th, 2013
11:31 pm

Boxscore:

1st quarter Auburn 10, UGA 0
2nd Quarter Auburn 17, UGA 10
3rd Quarter Auburn 7, UGA 7
4th Quarter Auburn 9, UGA 21

UGA won 1 quarter, Auburn won 2 quarters, tied 1 quarter, Auburn earned the win with better consistency throughout the game.

hind tit

November 16th, 2013
11:31 pm

Grantham has to go period. No improvement on defense since he came here. Being young no longer applies at this point in the season. Giving up forty points a game just doesn’t get it in this league. It,s never been the offense under Richt and Bobo but the defense. When you score forty points a game your suppose to win. What a waste.

sick of Richt

November 16th, 2013
11:34 pm

I’ve had it with this incompetent “coach” and I use that word loosely, and his inability to inspire a team, hire decent coaches, fire bad ones, or hire a special teams coach. I do have to admire his ability to rake in millions of dollars for being nothing more than mediocre.

jdawg34

November 16th, 2013
11:36 pm

I have said this here before….how many of this comments are true supporters….those of us that buy tickets and donate to Hartman fund. I bet most have never been to a game, but they have nothing to do except wach the game and get the laptop…I have 49 yrs going and will continue..Fair weather fans enjoy your computer and get your kicks off watching the game on TV..

sick of Richt

November 16th, 2013
11:39 pm

More than any other play in any other game, the last auburn touchdown will go down in history as the most memorable moment in Mark Richt’s tenure. What a legacy. What a coach.

AuburnGuy

November 16th, 2013
11:43 pm

Well, my UGA friends, some of you act like you should never lose to Auburn despite the fact that except for 2010 your team has dominated mine. The football gods give and they taketh away. I saw the Lindsey Scott game. I was at the Hobnail Boot game. You can’t have them all, Georgia fans. Life just doesn’t work out that way. I’ve been watching Auburn/UGA games for 50 years now, and your team has certainly had it’s share of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat from Auburn. Tonight it was your turn. With a full moon watching, no less.

TU

November 16th, 2013
11:44 pm

Heartbreaking for sure, but what an emotional, gut wrenching final minutes that I have ever experienced.One minute you are floating above the clouds and the next you are looking for the tag of the truck that ran over you.
We can go on forever discussing the what ifs and the would’a could’a should’as.

Mobile Dawg

November 16th, 2013
11:45 pm

Love the never quit in the Dawg players. I’ve got nothing good to say, nothing bad to say. Exactly what I expected. I believe I said before the game the AU defensive line would be the difference. They pressured Murray all night. Dawgs lost a heartbreaker tonight. They will lose more heartbreakers than they win under Richt and staff.

AU outplayed us all night, a tribute to our players that we were there in the end.

How bout Wagers throwing the unsportsmanlike conduct flag against Richt.

From MNC contenders to 6 – 4.

Coaching errors I saw tonight were the pooch kick. Don’t know why we would have given the ball to such a prolific offense to start the game anyway when we won the toss.