An Ecstatic Homecoming
The dust has settled on a 9-6 (American League of baseball-like) slugfest Homecoming Saturday night Between the Hedges. Mizzou, the two-time back-to-back belt-holding SEC East champions gimped into the Classic City hungry for a win of any variety after being badly diverted at home by the upstart Florida Gators – the sudden clear favorite in the East after Tennessee snubbed Georgia in a close shootout on Rocky Top. Our beloved Dawgs needed the win as much or more and stared straight at a three-game skid, which would have equaled an insufferable lost season, already, at just midpoint. An undefeated Top 10 summer with the school yard per carry record holder leading the way seems so long ago, doesn’t it?
In the end, head coach Mark Richt was “ecstatic” as UGA held Mizzou to 21 yards rushing and less than 200 total yards. We took our first lead with under 2:00 to play and were a missed tackle or assignment from the sky seriously falling. Not too late to have a good (or bad) year, we are still alive in the SEC.
Nineteen games straight with a 100-yard rusher and there’d be no twenty. No touchdowns. No breakaways. Barely any big gainers, at all, y’all. I’ve seen games like this. The key is to win ’em.
Shutouts pitched for 6-of-8 quarters against these middle America Tigers, though. After dismantling Maty Mauk and friends 34-0 at Mizzou (in their only regular season conference loss) last season, UGA yielded nothing at all in the 2nd half, again and gave up only 6 points in the 1st half Saturday.
The tone was set very early, as Greyson Lambert had only his second interception of the year on a tipped pass on Georgia’s first offensive play. First and goal from the 1 resulting in only a 3, as Dream Teamer Sterling Bailey’s interior push led a memorable goal line stand that should go down in GEORGIA lore.
It was 6-3 Tigers at the half and 6-6 in the 3rd. When Mizzou gaffed a punt, covered violently by Malcolm Mitchell, our kicker shanked, knotting each kicker in the (could’ve been soccer shots on goal stats, too) contest at 2-of-3.
The score was 6 to 6 as the Athens night grew long. One missed assignment or broken tackle and the fifth winningest active college football coach would own a super-hot throne.
More pugilism ensued with the suddenly Junkyard Dawgs delivering many of the big blows. See, Missouri has an unusually flat offense this year but the best pass D in the SEC and has built a strong program on the big backs of several stellar defensive linemen per season. They love to win ugly games. Maybe we were better; maybe just maybe we did need it more.
Greyson had a decent completion percentage after two sub .500 losses. And our superior skill position talents won it, finally. The Mitchell (senior) and Godwin (freshman) receiving duo had just enough physical gifts. Michel, playing like a workhorse through an undisclosed groin injury, behind an embattled and often whipped O-line, just enough grit.
The kick was good (ARE WE?). The D held again. Big win.
Those Gators had fallen at LSU on cue, too.
Dawgs 9-6 by TKO…for a shot at the East belt, which again runs through Jacksonville.
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