Georgia football: the best gifts of the last 25 years

Wide receiver Hines Ward
Wide receiver Hines Ward /
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Wide receiver Hines Ward
Wide receiver Hines Ward /

Christmas has came and went. Many Georgia football fans woke up this morning to open up gifts and likely opened gifts all day long.

With Christmas here, I began thinking of the best gifts Georgia football has received during my lifetime. These could be anything from questionable penalties in our favor to turnovers. Merry Christmas Georgia fans, and hopefully the gifts keep coming in the future.

1996: boneheaded play gifts Dawgs one more chance against Auburn

The 1990’s were a weird time for the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. Georgia’s record against the Tigers in Athens during the decade was 1-4. Their record against the Dawgs in Auburn was 1-3-1. If the halftime score of the 1996 meeting would have held, Auburn would have one more home win against Georgia in the 1990’s.

The Tigers led Georgia 28-7 at the half. But in just a few hours, a forgettable blowout became one of the most memorable games in SEC history. Georgia quarterback Mike Bobo, alongside running back Robert Edwards, and receivers Hines Ward and Corey Allen, started a huge comeback.

Late in the fourth quarter, time was running out. Georgia still trailed 28-21, but they had possession and Mike Bobo was leading an admirable drive down the field. Georgia’s offense faced the added pressure of not having any timeouts and they seemed to succumb to that pressure when Auburn sacked Bobo around the 30-yard-line with just 11 seconds on the clock. Still on the turf, there’s no way Bobo could get the team to the line to spike the ball. The game was over, Auburn had won. Or that’s how it seemed.

As Bobo was on the ground, the ball came loose and an official bent over to pick the ball up. But an Auburn defender grabbed the ball from the referee and started running with it. This particular referee must have believed the game only ends at the final buzzer, because he stopped with four seconds left to reset the ball.

Georgia, without timeouts, was gifted one by a gracious referee and a boneheaded defender. With that timeout, Bobo lined up his offense and spiked the ball. Georgia had one second and one more chance to score a touchdown. Bobo used that chance to toss a prayer to Allen who caught the ball inside the two-yard-line and fell onto a receiver and into the end zone for the game-tying touchdown.

The game went into overtime with a 28-28 score and the Bulldogs eventually ended four periods later with the Dawgs on top 56-49. If that Auburn defender had just left the ball alone after they sacked Bobo, or of the referee wasn’t such a stickler for the rules, Georgia would have lost that game 28-21. Instead, the Bulldogs won the first overtime game in SEC history.