Thursday, November 12, 2009

Georgia - Auburn in the Richt Era Part 3: 2006 - 2008

*** This is part 3 of a series looking at the Georgia Auburn Series since 2001

Georgia travelled to the Plains to take on Auburn with a record of 6-4. The Dawgs were coming off a loss to Kentucky that resulted in the the bruised Matt Stafford you see above. With embarassing losses to Kentucy and Vanderbilt and narrow victories over weak Colorado and Mississippi state teams, Georgia was definitely reeling. Auburn, on the other hand, was enjoying a fantastic season and was in the middle of the National Championship hunt. Because of Georgia's poor record, the game was bounced to the 12:30 Ray Com Sports game. A sluggish Auburn team and crowd showed up for the 11:30 local kick-off and Georgia would take full advantage.

Matthew Stafford hooked up on a long pass to set up the first score of the game, an 8 yard touchdown run by Kregg Lumpkin. Georgia had a 7-0 lead after the first quarter, but would really pile it on in the second. With Stafford's passing and running, Georgia was able to build a 17-0 lead. Former walk on Tra Battle, who would pick off 3 passes from Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox in the game, picked up a touchdown on a 30 yard INT return that gave Georgia a 24-0 lead. Here are the highlights of Battle's heroics:

Georgia picked up one more score to take a 30-7 lead at the half. The second half saw the Dawgs control the clock. Auburn had cut the lead to 30-15 in the third quarter, but Matt Stafford took the Dawgs on another drive. Stafford, who finished the day with 219 yards passing and 83 yards rushing, capped the drive with a 9 yard touchdown run. Georgia had knocked the Tigers out of the SEC and National Championship hunts in a game that has become known as the Massacre on the Plains.

Georgia 37, Auburn 15


Rumors began swarming around Athens that the Georgia players wanted the fans to come dressed in all black for the 2007 meeting of the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. Coach Mark Richt made the announcement official, calling on the Bulldog Nation to have a Blackout at Sanford Stadium. Georgia was coming off a win over Florida a few weeks before and had found a breakout star in halfback Knowshon Moreno. Auburn came in ranked 22 with a record of 7-3 and looking to avenge the beatdown the Bulldogs handed them in Jordan-Hare the year before. This would not be the night for Auburn to get their revenge.

The crowd was ready.

The crowd did their part, showing up decked out in black but the Georgia team came out for warm-ups in their normal home red jerseys. The team went to the locker room, but when they arrived, the lights were off. When the lights came on, black jerseys hung in their lockers. When the team came running out of the tunnel, the crowd lost its $#$%...mind:

With Georgia in black, there was something in the air and it seemed destiny that Georgia would handle the Tigers easily. On the first snap from scrimmage, Kelin Johnson picked off a Brandon Cox pass (Cox threw 4 interceptions against Georgia for second consecutive year) and the Dawgs were in business. They were only able to get a field goal which Auburn soon matched and the score was tied at 3. Georgia had the ball back and began a drive that ended when Matt Stafford found a wide open Mohammed Massaquoi for a 52 yard touchdown that put Georgia ahead. Another Stafford touchdown to Sean Bailey put the Dawgs up 14, but Auburn closed the gap with a late touchdown by Ben Tate that sent the teams to the locker room with Georgia leading 17-14.

At the start of the second half, it looked like the magic of the blackout may end up being a curse. Auburn scored 10 points to take a 20-17 lead. But this night would belong to the Dawgs, and the final 20 minutes of the game will a memory that Bulldog fans would never forget. It started with a 24 yard touchdown from Knowshon Moreno:

Georgia would soon get the ball back and on a third down from around the Auburn 25, Knowshon Moreno broke a series of tackles to take the Dawgs inside the 10. A facemask on the play allowed Georgia one untimed down to end the third, which Moreno capitalized with his second score of the day. After the band played, Soulja Boy cranked over the speakers at Sanford and the party spread throughout the stadium, even into the CBS broadcasting booth. The scene was amazing:

Georgia continued to score in the fourth, adding two more touchdowns. What was a close game turned into a blowout victory for Georgia. Georgia ride that momentum through the rest of the year and #2 national ranking.

Georgia 45, Auburn 20


Preseason #1 Georgia had been brought back down to earth during the 2008 season with crushing losses to Alabama and eventual national champion Florida. Following a last minute victory over the Wildcats in Kentucky a week before, Georgia returned to the Plains to meet an Auburn team that was on its way to a losing season. Rumors of Tommy Tuberville's potential firing swarmed around Auburn and many were sure the Dawgs would handle the Tigers again.

The Georgia offense failed to get going in the first half and Auburn capitalized on a special teams mistake to take an early lead. At the end of the first quarter, Auburn went back to punt from their own endzone. Georgia hit the Auburn punter and would have had a first down, but it did not matter. Georgia returner Prince Miller fumbled the punt and Auburn took over at their own 48. Kodi Burns connected on a 52 yard touchdown pass on the next play to Mario Fannin, but a botched extra point (which would prove very costly) gave Auburn only a 6-0 lead. Georgia got on the scoreboard just before half, as Knowshon Moreno took a screen pass from Matthew Stafford in for a score from 30 yards out. Moreno would have a solid day on the ground, rushing for 131 yards on 22 carries. Georgia lead at the break, 7-6.

The teams continued to struggle to score in the third, with the only points coming on a Blair Walsh field goal. Heading to the fourth, Georgia led 10-6. Auburn then went on an 11 play, 90 yard drive that was capped off by a Mario Fannin 35 yard touchdown run to give the Tigers the lead with 11 minutes to go. Georgia answered with a 3 minute scoring drive of its own, capped off by a touchdown pass to AJ Green. Auburn would get one final chance to win the game, taking over at their own 20 with 1:44 showing on the clock. Because of the early missed extra point, Auburn could not tie the game with a field goal. Kodi Burns lead Auburn down the field, but a fourth down pass fell incomplete just outside the end zone and Georgia won its third straight in the series. Here are the highlights:

Georgia 17, Auburn 13

Tomorrow: Part 4, the 2009 Preview


alex gibbs said...

I swear I could hear Sanford Stadium when I was at Emory with my all my family while my Uncle was in the hospital. I remember Larry Munson saying, "They don't look like the Dawgs, let's hope they play like the Dawgs." That's exactly what they did that day.

I sure hope that same type of Bulldawg team shows up to put the "burn" in Auburn.

Paul said...
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