1978: No. 11 Georgia football 29, Georgia Tech 28
Last week, we mentioned the 1978 Georgia football team when preparing for the Kentucky game. Despite many in the media projecting the ’78 Dawgs to finish near the bottom of the SEC, Georgia continued to find ways to win games. They were given the nickname “Wonder Dogs” because of all the comeback wins they were able to pull off.
After starting the season 2-1, Georgia won six straight games. During the win streak, the Dawgs defeated LSU in Death Valley and Florida in Jacksonville. Unfortunately, Georgia and Auburn would play to a tie, ultimately costing Georgia the SEC Championship.
The Yellow Jackets were entering this game with a 7-3 record. Like Georgia, they also had a long win streak during the season. Tech was not a member of any conference at this time, as they had left the SEC in 1964. Their regular-season finale with the Dawgs was setting up to be a great matchup.
Things did not start well for Georgia, as Tech jumped to a 20-0 lead near the end of the first half. Needing a spark, Vince Dooley made a quarterback switch and put in freshman Buck Belue.
Belue led a drive before halftime that ended in a Willie McClendon touchdown run, but the Dawgs were still down 20-7. McClendon would score another touchdown in the third quarter to pull Georgia within six.
After forcing a three and out, the Yellow Jackets were forced to punt. Scott Woerner returned the punt 72 yards to help give Georgia its first lead. You’ve probably heard Larry Munson’s famous call for this play.
On the ensuing kickoff, however, Georgia Tech returner Drew Hill returned the ball 105 yards for a touchdown to put them back in front. After a successful two-point conversion, the Dawgs found themselves down by a touchdown in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
The freshman Belue was calm under pressure, leading Georgia on an 85-yard drive that ended with a fourth down touchdown pass to Amp Arnold to tie the game. Vince Dooley decided to go for two to try and win the game rather than settle for a tie. On Georgia’s first attempt, Tech was called for pass interference. On the second attempt, Belue faked a handoff and threw the ball just in time to Arnold again for the two-point conversion, sealing Georgia’s comeback with a 29-28 win.
The Dawgs would finish the ’78 season with a 9-2-1 record and lost a close game to Stanford in the Blue Bonnet Bowl. Despite the disappointing finish, Georgia fans were given a great introduction to Buck Belue, who would help lead the Bulldogs to a National Championship a couple of years later.