Throwback Thursday: Georgia football “hunkers down” to beat Auburn

Nov 13, 1982; Auburn, AL, USA; FILE PHOTO; Georgia Bulldogs running back Herschel Walker (34) carries the ball against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 13, 1982; Auburn, AL, USA; FILE PHOTO; Georgia Bulldogs running back Herschel Walker (34) carries the ball against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports /

On Saturday, Georgia football and Auburn will face off for the 127th time in what is known as “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.” Though Georgia has dominated the rivalry over the last decade, it is still one that fans of both teams look forward to every year.

The Dawgs enter this game with a 5-0 record and the No. 2 overall ranking in the AP poll. Despite the high ranking, Georgia has played some uninspiring football over the past few weeks. A strong showing against the Tigers will show everyone why the reigning National Champions are ready to keep that title in 2022.

Auburn, meanwhile, will enter the game with a 3-2 record and a 29-point underdog. They lost at home to LSU last Saturday despite building a 17-0 lead early. Head coach Bryan Harsin will likely be gone by the season’s end, if not sooner. The Tigers could, however, play the role of spoiler and end Georgia’s hope of an undefeated regular season.

A throwback Thursday to one of our favorite times Georgia football beat Auburn.

Although the Tigers won’t be competing for the SEC or national championship this season, we have seen many matchups between these two programs in which championship opportunities were up for grabs for both teams. Georgia clinched its first-ever SEC East division after beating Auburn in 2002 thanks to a David Greene touchdown pass to Michael Johnson. The Dawgs would go on to beat Arkansas in the SEC Championship and Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.

Cam Newton and the Tigers overcame an early deficit against the Dawgs in 2010 to win and clinch the SEC West title. They would eventually win the National Championship that season over Oregon.

Of course, in 2017, Georgia and Auburn squared off in the SEC Championship game for the first time with a spot in the College Football Playoff on the line. Georgia would avenge their loss to the Tigers in the regular season by winning 28-7.

On this throwback Thursday, however, we’re looking back at one of the most iconic games in the history of this storied rivalry. This game was full of drama, future Hall of Famers, and Larry Munson creating a battle cry that Dawg nation still uses to this day. We were talking about Georgia and Auburn on November 13, 1982.

From 1980 until this game against Auburn, Coach Vince Dooley and the Dawgs had compiled a record of 31-2 (this includes their 9-0 start in 1982). They had won back-to-back SEC Championships and the 1980 National Championship. Led by the Junkyard Dawg defense and junior running back Herschel Walker, Georgia was looking to keep asserting their dominance in college football and the SEC, as a win against the Tigers would give the Dawgs their third straight SEC title.

Auburn was entering the game 7-2. This was former Georgia player Pat Dye’s second year as head coach of the Tigers, and he was already beginning to turn the program around. Auburn had their own young running back sensation in Bo Jackson and a solid defense.

Georgia received the ball to start this game, and quarterback John Lastinger orchestrated a solid drive to get the Dawgs to the red zone. Auburn would stop Georgia on third and goal from the three-yard line, and Georgia was forced to settle for a field goal courtesy of Kevin Butler.

Auburn responded quickly on their opening drive, as quarterback Randy Campbell outran the Georgia defense to score a touchdown to put the Tigers up 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.

Georgia would respond on their next offensive series. On third and four near midfield, Herschel Walker dashed for a 47-yard touchdown, breaking a few tackles along the way. This run put Georgia up 10-7.

The two teams would exchange punts before the Georgia defense would force an Auburn fumble. They turned the fumble into three points when Butler kicked a 50-yard field goal to extend Georgia’s lead to 13-7, a lead they would take into halftime.

The Tigers came out and slung the ball around in the second half. They got down close to the Georgia 30-yard line when Randy Campbell threw a pass that would be deflected and intercepted by Bulldog defensive back Jeff Sanchez. The Auburn defense would force a punt after the interception.

More defensive stops would send the game to the fourth quarter, with Georgia still leading by six. Early in the fourth, however, Auburn running back Lionel James found a hole and sprinted for an 87-yard touchdown run. The Albany, GA native’s touchdown was the Tigers’ first since their opening drive of the game, and it put Auburn in front 14-13.

John Lastinger again led Georgia on an incredible offensive drive, highlighted by a big pass to Herman Archie on third and six, setting Georgia up at the Auburn 22-yard line. Herschel Walker and fullback Chris McCarthy would wear out the Tiger defense on the next few plays, ultimately leading to Walker’s three-yard touchdown run. An unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt put the score at 19-14 with the Dawgs in front.

I’m sure many of you have seen or listened to this sequence, with Larry Munson calling the action.

Auburn took the ball and drove it all the way down to the Georgia 10-yard line, with Larry Munson calling for them to “hunker down.” But the Dawgs’ defense made some big plays, including a huge sack by Dale Carver on 2nd and 17. Randy Campbell completed a pass on third down to Ed West, but he slipped and fell near the 20-yard line. Auburn would call a timeout with 49 seconds left in the game. Munson would then utter the now iconic plea that is still quoted by many to this day:

“I know I’m asking a lot of you guys but Hunker it Down ONE MORE TIME!”

On 4th and 17th, Georgia broke up Campbell’s pass in the back of the end zone that would seal the 19-14 victory for the Dawgs. Larry Munson would utter yet another iconic line with his, “Oh look at the sugar falling out of the sky. Look at the sugar falling out of the sky!” in reference to Georgia winning the SEC Championship and clinching a birth in the Sugar Bowl. Sadly, Georgia would lose in New Orleans against Penn State after a late-game comeback by the Nittany Lions.

Herschel Walker, who rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns against Auburn, won the 1982 Heisman Trophy award after finishing with 1,752 yards and 16 touchdowns. He would join the New Jersey Generals of the USFL in 1983 before jumping to the NFL a few years later.

Must Read. Kirby Smart’s Georgia football sweatshirt is now the hottest item in Athens. light

What kind of magical moments could arise out of this dogfight in Athens? Will Georgia stay perfect on the season, or will Aburn find another miracle?