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

Tim

November 17th, 2013
2:38 pm

Go to Duke and get Cutcliff…….for anyone to do what they have done with Duke

Mutley

November 17th, 2013
2:53 pm

Anyone see the list of DCs since Erk? Only one name stands out, BVG. Does anyone know if he is still coaching & available.

JRW7

November 17th, 2013
2:58 pm

Why are we ever so close to winning the big game, but, we almost never win it? Coaching or lack there of maybe? CNS could take this UGA team and win the MNC! How? Because his team is always well prepared and well coached!

The Grim Reaper

November 17th, 2013
3:16 pm

RNB said:
Hoping Muschamp is available after this season.
So are a lot of Gator fans

The Grim Reaper

November 17th, 2013
3:19 pm

Quit crying Puppies, you can’t win any more big games since you sold your souls to me for Herschel, remember? I gave you the stinger’less jackets up the road forever, you can’t have it all…

TrishaDishaWarEagle

November 17th, 2013
3:22 pm

I think CLK is still available…maybe daddy Monte , also

dawgfan

November 17th, 2013
3:29 pm

Trisha, Malzahn will be a flash in the pan, just like your wins over us in the past 10 years. This idiot was celebrating like a maniac after his team beat an unranked team on a fluke play after blowing a 20 point lead. Big time coaches don’t act like that. He’s a hack. His little offense is catching people off guard for a nice little run, but adjustments will be made and it will be back to the Chicken Bowl for you Barners. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Just calling it like I see it.

Classic

November 17th, 2013
3:31 pm

CTG is doing his job Lakatos is the one who doesn’t know how to coach db’s. I was a db so I know that the DC does nothing to do but call and make the plays and that it is the db’s coaches job to get the db’s in the right position and have them on the right page. Lakatos is not a good db coach blame him if anybody for any safety or db problems.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

November 17th, 2013
3:50 pm

@Dawgfan..Malzahns “little offense” won the 2010 NC and has us 10-1 this year , and it has beat you 2 out of 3 times over 4 years…just sayin! But you keep grinding out that pro style offense, it’s noble work you are doing, supplying “2 and done” draft picks for the NFL..

TrishaDishaWarEagle

November 17th, 2013
3:55 pm

BTW why do you act like you have been a long dominant team in our rivaly? we now have a 1 game total win advantage in the 117 year series, 55-54-8.

2012 was a reset for us, and a cautionary tale for the Fire Mark Richt crowd…it is ok to fire a coach, but we fired the wrong damn one!..situation now rectified…WAR DAMN EAGLE

TrishaDishaWarEagle

November 17th, 2013
3:57 pm

Above is a slight simplification, we never fired Malzahn, but we did not write a big enough check and he walked..we wrote a much bigger check this year and he came back..thank god!

dawgfan

November 17th, 2013
4:05 pm

You’ll fire him in 3-4 years. Book it. Your schedule was a joke this year and he’s benefitting from it. Your defense is a joke. It’ll all come crumbling down soon. It always does. You’re Auburn.

Thanks.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

November 17th, 2013
4:14 pm

How does playing the ENTIRE SEC WEST EVERY YEAR qualify as a joke schedule? Oh, never mind, I just saw chuck Dowdle’s head explode on our touchdown replay!

tell me again

November 17th, 2013
4:37 pm

Just saw the video of CTG saying, “We had a chance to win the game on the last play and we didn’t get it done”……..I think that pretty much sums it up.

dawgfan

November 17th, 2013
4:39 pm

There are 3 other good teams in the West. That’s it. You already lost to one and have yet to play the third. You’ve padded the W column against Waashington State, Arkansas State, Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic. You must not be that good because we almost beat you.

Bama will spoil the party in a big way.

Newnan41

November 17th, 2013
4:46 pm

We need help

NCDawg

November 17th, 2013
5:02 pm

I have a question. Are our players or any players ROBOTS. Does any coach have any real control over his players? I saw somebody say that Coach Richt has player control issues. BS.

Footballfan

November 17th, 2013
5:02 pm

It’s always the ref’s fault, or our quarterback’s fault (let’s go egg his house), or – let’s fire coaches! I’d be ashamed to be a dog (sic).

NCDawg

November 17th, 2013
5:04 pm

When Bama gave up that blocked punt in the SEC CG didn’t those players do what they weren’t supposed to do? Didn’t they screw up royally? Sure Coach Saban wasn’t happy with that and I’m sure that they worked hard on that in practice later but even the great Saban can’t MAKE them not do it again.

BankerDawg

November 17th, 2013
5:06 pm

I agree Dawgfan, beating GA is not a monumental achievement especially the way they allowed us to come back. Lets see how they line up against Alabama next week. Allot has been said this year, again, about the coaching staff and the consistently poor job year over year. I think the heart of the issue is that we have lost our identity as a team. GA has historically been a defensive team and running team first. When did we give up on Oline play, establishing the run, and lock down defenses? Where are the John Stinchombs, Max Gean-Gilles, Velasco’s etc?
On the defensive side, I question the whole 3-4 scheme. It’s widely know that if you don’t have a big slab of beef at the NG position it doesn’t work. When we lost Jenkins
And Geathers we essentially became ineffectual up front. Does Grantham not realize this? Most of these kids played a 4-3 scheme in HS. Most teams that experimented with the 3-4 quickly reverted back to a 4-3 in recent years. I’m not an expert but the results have been abysmal since the 2005 Sugar Bowl. We need to take drastic measures to right the ship.

NCDawg

November 17th, 2013
5:06 pm

I fully realize that there are trolls on here that will bash anything Georgia related or Mark Richt related no matter what. FACT: even if we’d won, there would be nothing but complaints about what happened in the rest of the game. That is a guarantee. What kind of FANS (and I use that term generously) only see the negative?

NCDawg

November 17th, 2013
5:07 pm

Some of you pathological complainers I just ignore. You are lost causes. You have proven to be nothing but trolls. My concern is the folks that aren’t normally here and/or so negative that seem to catch this HERD mentality. THINK for yourselves. Keep your eyes open and SEE that the instigators here are ALWAYS negative… win or lose. Do you want to be sucked up by a hysteria centered around people that see nothing positive about the University of Georgia football program?
Do you really want that?

I am not just saying this because I disagree… I am saying it because it’s true. There are regulars on this blog that have stated that, in a season where the Georgia Bulldogs defeated 2 Top 6 programs, there is nothing at all positive to be found in this season or our program? It’s in writing and provable. Is that what you want to sign on to?

dawgfan

November 17th, 2013
5:11 pm

NCdawg, your problem is that anytime anyone blames the coaches for something you use this same tired argument over and over again. Every single time. The coaches are never responsible for anything that goes bad according to you. Never. To follow your logic we don’t even need coaches. its all up to the players to get it done. You have no credibility.

4 of 6 seasons with 4 losses or more. Please tell me Richt is still a good coach because I need a good hearty chuckle.

BankerDawg

November 17th, 2013
5:13 pm

You consider this a positive season? Yes, we beat both SC and LSU. Those were great wins. The bad losses to Vandy, Mizz, Clemson, and Auburn out number the good wins. I think you have a hard time seperarting Mark Richt from GA football. Mark Richt is not GA football. He is however the one getting paid 3MM a year to win football games. If he is not being successful then it’s ok to question or ask why?

Just out of curiosity, what are the positives you take away from this season? What gives you hope that we will be any better next year?

BankerDawg

November 17th, 2013
5:15 pm

4 of 6 seasons with 4 losses or more is all we need to know…

dawgfan

November 17th, 2013
5:17 pm

For the love of God man we HAVE NOT beaten two Top 6 teams this year!!!! Quit saying that. Go look at the friggin rankings.

What drug are you on?

NCDawg

November 17th, 2013
5:19 pm

I said earlier that I think the Coach Grantham’s time is up. Does that look like blind loyalty to you? I am a rational person that doesn’t play the blame game. I look at the issue from every side and make a logical decision based on fact not emotion.

I think our defense needs a different direction. I have waited patiently for progress that indicates that there is a better future. The new guys should be up to speed now. There should be no less than a 85/15 ratio of success to failure ratio even with the freshmen at this point. Instead I see a 70/30 or 65/35 ratio. After 10 games that is not acceptable.

That is rational analysis. Screaming “Fire Richt” and “we’ll never win a National Championship with him as coach” is not rational. That is hysteria stemming from hurt pride and envy. I don’t play that game.

Ok, I’m done… Dawgs lost on a surreal play. I will get over it.

NCDawg

November 17th, 2013
5:22 pm

LOL… you are the one who is on drugs… go back and look at the standings when the games were played. That is the only way that those types on things work…TROLL. Mindless, froth spitting TROLL… that is what you are. Deal with it.

JB at home

November 17th, 2013
5:23 pm

Just got home. I feel the loss is destiny for Auburn. They upset Bama and win the West. All it can be. Dawgs HAD them beat with 36 seconds left. Gut wrenching. Write this year off. Hutson Mason time…..and maybe a new DC. It can’t get worse on D…..can it?

dawgfan

November 17th, 2013
5:23 pm

Answer the question. We have lost 4 or more games in 4 of the past 6 seasons. This is a fact. We are not making it up. Good coaches do not lose that many games with the resources we have available. If you disagree, please tell us why.

All you do is complain about people complaining about your mancrush Mark Richt. That is all you do dude. You never offer anything else to the discussion.

NCDawg

November 17th, 2013
5:23 pm

Gone… flail away in another foaming at the mouth rant child… LMFAO!

jdawg34

November 17th, 2013
5:26 pm

Again, the most that comment, are not season tickets holders or donate to UGA Athletics. They just want to continue to jump on coaches and program; We know the true fans.

dawgfan

November 17th, 2013
5:30 pm

That’s not how it works. Other teams besides us beat LSU and SC which means that beating them isn’t some mounental feat like you try to make it out to be.

You are delusional.

dawgfan

November 17th, 2013
5:31 pm

Time for NCdawg to go run and hide when people start talking facts.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

November 17th, 2013
5:35 pm

NCDAWG, I think you make a lot of sense, for what it is worth. I admittedly crow about our win yesterday but I started out by congratulating Aaron Murray on a great career and I for one am glad we wonlt have to play him anymore, same as I love Tebow but I am glad he is gone from the SEC until he replaces Slive as commissioner (you know it is coming). I think there has long been a skewed perspective of UGA’s program , relative to other power schools, for some time now among many of the UGA fans. We at AU know, deep down, we are not Alabama and never will be..we compensate by being smarter and better looking, but they have the championships for the most part. That does not mean we can;t be a solid top 15 team year in year out and win the occasional championship..much like UGA..but we do not start every year, year in year out, thinking NC or bust..that takes the damn fun out of it unless you are one of the two real programs that can pull it off (Alabama and whoever Urban Meyer is coaching). I hope each year for a january bowl game and anything better than that is gravy..makes for a happier healthier life..

dawgfan

November 17th, 2013
5:36 pm

True fans don’t put a coach on the same level as the program. True fans love Georgia football, not whoever happens to be coaching it at the moment.

dawgfan

November 17th, 2013
5:41 pm

I don’t think we are Bama either. That’s something Kool Aiders like NCdawg made up to discredit Richt critics because they don’t have a leg to stand on in the argument. I simply expect better than 4 losses or more every year, which is what we’ve been getting out of Richt for the most part. I expect to win big games at a better clip than he has been winning them. I expect to beat teams like Vandy and Mizzou and not have to resort to excuses when we lose to them.

That’s all I expect. I’m not a “real fan” though so what the hell would I know?

Mobile Dawg

November 17th, 2013
5:45 pm

NCDawg, assuming we keep Richt which is pretty much cemented in concrete, we need at least three coaching changes, Friend, adding a ST coach, and a DC. That’s to much change for Richt, so my guess is the status quo again next year. Can’t take it anymore.

[...] Georgia Bulldogs had a comeback against the #7 Auburn Tigers last night that many teams dream of, but never see. After getting beat [...]

dawgfan

November 17th, 2013
5:55 pm

Since Richt last won an SEC title he has posted a .699 winning percentage. Jim Donnan was .678 and got fired.

dawgfan

November 17th, 2013
6:04 pm

Grantham will be back. His boss is the same guy who thought our defense was “fine” in 2008.

Matt

November 17th, 2013
6:04 pm

This could be one of those turning points for the team. The defense was fantastic when they had to be in the end and Murray showed true leadership. Last years loss to Bama was much more difficult since we were playing for the National Title(yes, I’m assuming we roll over ND).

I saw some young DB’s grow up that game- Wiggens missed two tackles early but played aggressive in the end and broke up a big pass play.It’s amazing how some fans can’t see the forest through the trees… An unlucky bounce loss the game not the wrong defensive line up. Knock the ball down next time guys. Go DAWGS!

knottypine

November 17th, 2013
6:17 pm

How does a player who does not know not to try to intercept a pass on 4th down even get to be recruited play on any college team much less at Georgia? How does a defensive back that plays for Georgia not know not to try and intercept a pass on 4th down? Do the defensive coaches not teach defensive backs, do not intercept a pass on 4th down. The odds of running it back to the original line of scrimmage is slim, especially when the line is on the opponents 30 yard line and the pass would be caught on our 20 yard line. What do the defensive coaches coach? I wonder if Ritch will ask Grantham that question.
Tray Matthews could have gone down as making one of the best defensive plays in Georgia football history, now he will go down as making one of the most stupid football plays in the history of all football, not just Georgia Bulldog football. But, as said, maybe he has not been coached not to intercept a pass on 4th down.

Snoop Dawg

November 17th, 2013
6:19 pm

Has anybody ever considered that Richt is actually bankrolling these phantom bloggers like NCdawg and Altamahadawg just to make it sound like he is earning his money? Remember, Richt makes over $3M per year, so he could easily pay a tenth of that to a hendfull of lackeys who will spout out the koolaid zombie propaganda for him.

Without the propaganda, it is downright impossible to blame anyone other than Richt for the sorry state of UGA football. He hires all the other coaches. Most of the assistants have already been replaced at least once; only Richt is the constant in the equation.

Until the alumni and fans demand better, they hastening the rot of UGA’s rich football history by defending this sorry excuse of a coach…

Gertbeet Frobe

November 17th, 2013
6:22 pm

We have some ignorant fools for fans. How can some complain about Murray? He’s constantly harassed and still fights til the end. I’m surprised he hasn’t gotten killed playing at GA. I feel sorry for him and other players getting stuck with this coaching staff. I wonder how saban would do with the talent on this team, especially Murray, Gurley and these receivers? Did I read that this is the last year on Grantham’s contract?

Matt

November 17th, 2013
6:46 pm

I’m a UGA alum and don’t think we are “hastening the rot of UGA’s rich football history”. What a great line though…

We were 7 yards away from a national title last year. We have coach who has standards and dismissed two quality players from the team for stealing and beating his girlfriend. He has gotten rid of coaches in the past and I’m sure he will in the future.

Be carefull what you wish for Richt haters… Ask Tennessee how things worked out for them.

BankerDawg

November 17th, 2013
6:52 pm

Knotty – great point. It reminds me of the play that Rambo made to break up the pass and saved the game for us. Matthews had a defining moment and failed. That’s ok, I think he will be a good one. I just have a hard time understanding why on earth didn’t some coach remind these guys – we don’t want an interception. Knock the ball away or break up the play.

I agree with Dawgfan, I know we are not Alabama. Bama gets mentioned allot because they have set the bar in college football. Not just wins or losses but as a program – from recruiting through player development all the way through. It’s foolish not to look at “the best” and learn from them. I can assure you that in the business world you have to adjust and make changes to adapt or you become irrelevant. That’s where GA is now. What made us successful from 2001-2005 is not getting it done anymore. In fact, we’ve actually abandoned what made us successful – a top 10 defense in the country. We are not a complete team. We run a pro style offense and a 3-4 defense which both require that you be dominant on the lines of scrimmage.

4 loss seasons are not acceptable in programs like GA, FLA, TN, Auburn, LSU, and Alabama. Unfortunately, that’s what Richt and co have been giving us when we have a decent schedule. Wen we have a “easy” schedule by SEC standards we get 10-2 seasons. That’s mediocrity at best.

knottypine

November 17th, 2013
7:15 pm

Okay, I was wrong. Someone sent me a view of the play I had not seen before and the pass would have been intercepted and the game over if it had not been tipped by the other Georgia safety. So, my apologies to the players and the coaches. It was just a fluke; just the way the ball bounces.

BankerDawg

November 17th, 2013
7:19 pm

Matt – the problem is we are always 7 yds away, on completion away, or one this or that. Someone made a great point earlier in this thread, championships aren’t handed out. If you win all of your games in the SEC you are pretty much guaranteed to play for one, maybe two. We’ve never won in that fashion under Richt. Earlier in his career one could argue that we were on that path. I think that’s where fans like NCDawg are stuck. However, the past 8 years have been nothing but dissapointing seasons and let downs. There is something “off” within the program. Again, not just speaking to this year. I understand you can’t build an opinion in a vacuum. But when looking at the whole body of work it’s evident that Richt had plateaued or reached the pinnacle of his abilities. 4 loss season is not what I consider moving forward or on the right path.

Donald

November 17th, 2013
7:34 pm

There was no way the Auburn Tigers were going to lose that game. We have someone that Georgia kicked off their team. Mr. Nick Marshall.

43-38 WAR EAGLE!!!