ATHENS – The University of Georgia has a connection to Joe Paterno and Penn State. Vince Dooley’s undefeated 1982 SEC championship team played Paterno’s Nittany Lions in the the 1983 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
As any Dogs’ fan from those days can tell you, the Bulldogs lost 27-23. It was a great game in which the Todd Blackledge-led Nittany Lions came in as the consensus No. 2 team and Georgia No. 1. The Bulldogs were led, of course, by Heisman Trophy recipient Herschel Walker, who finished with 103 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. However, he was out-shined that day by another pretty good running back. Curt Warner had 177 yards and two TDs on 18 carries.
Penn State led throughout the first half, but the Bulldogs came roaring back in the second and closed it to 20-17 in third quarter. But Blackledge hit Greg Garrity with 47-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter and that proved to be the difference in the game.
It remains the only time Penn State and Georgia have played in football.
Dooley issued a statement about Paterno upon learning of his death late Sunday night.
“Barbara and I are saddened by the sudden and untimely loss of our long time dear friend Joe Paterno,” Dooley said. “His wife Sue was a special friend and our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. Joe was a great role model and represented all that was good about college football. It was tragic that such a person had to endure the heartbreaks of his last months on Earth. God Bless Joe and Sue.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt also got to know the Paternos as a member of the Nike coaches’ fraternity.
“Katharyn and I got to know Coach Paterno and Sue at a Nike coaches retreat,” Richt said in a statement. “We were the new kids on the block at that time, but the Paternos were very gracious in welcoming us into the head coaching fraternity. His record stands alone and his immense contributions to Penn State and the game of college football make him one of the greatest coaches of all time.”