Monday, November 9, 2009

Georgia vs. Auburn in the Richt Era, Part 1: 2001-2003

*** This is the first post in a series that looks back at the Georgia-Auburn Rivalry since Mark Richt came to Georgia in 2001.

Mark Richt’s first Bulldog came into the Deep’s South Oldest Rivalry ranked #22 in the country, including their upset victory over Tennessee in Knoxville. The Dawgs were led by a freshman quarterback David Greene and linebackers Boss Bailey and Tony Gilbert. In their third season under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn had struggled to find a solid starter a quarterback. Freshman Jason Campbell saw his share of snaps that season, but the starter on that day was Daniel Cobb, a former Georgia player who had left when Quincy Carter came to Athens. By the end of the game, a young star would cement his place in the rivalry’s record books and a young coach would learn a lesson in time management.

Georgia jumped on top the Tigers early to open the contest. Borrowing a play from his years at Florida State, David Greene executed a near perfect “hidden ball” play action pass that resulted in a 67 yard touchdown to fellow freshman Fred Gibson. Carnell “Cadillac” Williams would make his first big play of the game in the first on a 1 yard touchdown run that tied the game after 1. Georgia would take the lead on another long TD pass, this time a 56 yard strike to Terrence Edwards that gave the Dawgs a 14-7 halftime lead. Auburn made some adjustments in the locker room, and took the lead back from the Dawgs before a Billy Bennett field goal tied the game at 17.

In the fourth quarter, the game was taken over by Cadillac Williams. On an Auburn single game record of 41 carries, Williams rushed for 167 yards. The most important yard was his final one, which came on his second 1 yard touchdown of the day that gave Auburn the lead with very little time to go. Georgia was able to quickly drive the ball down near the Auburn goal line. But with just seconds remaining and no timeouts, Richt elected to go with a running play. Jasper Sanks was stopped at the one and the Dawgs were unable to run another play.
Two goal line failures will be what Jasper's career at Georgia will be remembered for

Auburn 24, Georgia 17


Georgia came to the Plains with a shot to clinch it’s first ever trip to the SEC Championship game but came out looking flat against the underdog Tigers (or Eagles or whatever). Without receivers Terrence Edwards and Damien Gary and Fred Gibson playing with a cast, Georgia needed to find another target in the passing game. Few expected the hero that would emerge that day.
Georgia struggled to get much offense going in the first half and had only 3 points on a Billy Bennett field goal to show for. For Auburn, just as Cadillac Williams broke out against the Dawgs in ’01, Ronnie Brown made his presence known to the rivalry in 2002. Brown scored on a 53 yard scamper to give the #22 Tigers a 14-3 lead on #6 rated Georgia going into half.

After an inspiring speech by senior tackle Jon Stinchomb at half, Georgia came out determined to not let their championship dreams die. Led by the play of safety Sean Jones (both on defense and on special teams) the Dawgs clawed their way back within 4 with a 1:15 showing on the clock. Georgia was able to drive into the red zone but after a penalty and a few incompletions found themselves at 4th and 15. David Green then ran the play 70X takeoff and lofted a jump ball to receiver Michael Johnson. Here’s the call from Larry Munson

It was Johnson’s 13th catch on the day and it sent Georgia to its first ever SEC Championship game. I was in the third row on the opposite side of the stadium and did not know who had caught the pass until the following Monday (I thought it was Gibson).
Georgia 24, Auburn 21

Georgia came into the 2003 match up with Auburn with a record of 7-2, holding onto hopes of a rematch against LSU in the SEC Championship game. Auburn, who has started the year in the top 10 had struggled and came to Athens with a 6-4 record. After the last minute victory on the Plains in 02, Georgia was looking to defeat Auburn at home for the first time since 1991.
The game would be all Georgia in the first half. Billy Bennett connected on two field goals and David Greene found Michael Johnson for a 19 yard touchdown as the Dawgs took a 13-0 lead into halftime.
Auburn put together a nice drive to open the second half, driving inside the Georgia ten. Kicker Philip Yost, who had attempted a 60 yarder at the end of the first half (he missed), shanked a 25 yarder. Georgia would take over a cap off another scoring drive with a 16 yard touchdown run by Kregg Lumpkin. Auburn once again drove down the field, but on a 3rd and goal they decided to go against using Williams or Brown and put the ball in Jason Campbell’s hands. Tony Taylor tipped a pass and the rest was history:

Auburn scored a late touchdown to avoid the shutout, but Georgia had defeated Auburn for the second year in a row.

Georgia 26, Auburn 7

Tomorrow: Auburn comes roaring back (2004-2005)


MT said...

Streit, you woulda known who got the TD if you had hung out with the cool kids like Coulter who wore a radio headset the entire game.

That Odell INT was electric when it happened

Streit said...

Got too busy at work yesterday. Part 2 will be up later today.