Dawgs On Top--Somehow
My God almighty, did you see what they did? I gave up. So did you. We were out of it and gone. Miracle! This had not been a night for Old Lady Luck.
And then it was.
I had a sinking feeling about the game, way down in the pit of my stomach, from the time I checked into my downtown hotel Friday afternoon. We planned ahead. I can’t drive in Atlanta traffic at night anymore. Getting old ain’t for sissies. I forget. Can you still use the word “sissy” in 2023? Well, if you can’t, to hell with ‘em. That’s my New Year’s Resolution. To do all the things in 2023 that I want to do without worrying about political correctness or who might be offended.
But how ‘bout them Dawgs!
I thought after our first defensive series we would just have our way with the damnyankee Buckeyes all night. We got a sack and a stop, and we fielded the punt and had a modest drive before getting bogged down. One play was key on that opening drive. It was third and one at the Ohio State 26-yard line. You remember the play. Stet had just hit Darnell Washington for a nine-yard gain. Stetson faked a handoff to McIntosh and kept it around right end, but Ohio State got penetration and we lost three yards. I still believe that if we had given it to McIntosh he would still be running and the rout would have been on.
Then Mr. Consistency, Jack Podlesny missed a field goal and all of a sudden C.J. Stroud forgot he wasn’t supposed to be a tough football player who could run the ball and throw under pressure, and we were fighting for our very lives---and nobody thought we would survive. I mean, nobody among those of us who don’t really count. The guys on the field, they never gave up.
What a night. My oldest grandson, Sir Henley the Adorable, was making his first appearance at a big game that mattered and was so excited. He had never seen Georgia lose in person and I don’t think he understood that it was a possibility. When we went down 14 at the beginning of the 4th quarter, he lost it and began to bawl like a—well, like an eight-year-old kid who loves Georgia—which is what he is.
I wanted to cry myself, but I didn’t. Instead, I just cussed a lot. I bet you did, too.
We just seemed a bit off all night. Ohio State had done a great job of spreading out our defense and making us have to chase Mr. Stroud. And Mr. Stroud did a masterful job of throwing on the run, seeing the field, delivering the ball and just balling out as a quarterback in general. I was thinking that we were in the process of laying a giant egg at the most inopportune time.
But then something funny happened. They posted a comparison of team stats on the big halo board at Mercedes Benz and I realized that Stetson Bennett, at the time, had completed just as many passes for just as many yards as C.J. Stroud and that two missed FGs and one pick was the difference in the game. The Buckeyes weren’t really beating the Bulldogs as soundly as it somehow seemed. We just aren’t used to seeing a team score multiple touchdowns against us and because Ohio State had, the whole situation seemed worse than it was.
Luckily for all those who bleed red and black, the players and coaches that represent us don’t give up as easily as their fans. They believe in themselves, and their methods and they understand that a game is four quarters long—four full quarters—and in the fourth quarter Saturday night, they put on a clinic, outscoring the visitors 18-3 and capping off perhaps the most unforgettable comeback in the annals of Georgia football.
And all you misinformed mental midgets out there who STILL don’t believe Stetson Bennett is elite—he completed 10 of 12 passes in the fourth quarter for 188 yards and two TDs. In a quarter. In the 4th quarter. Orange Bowl MVP. National Championship Game MVP. SEC Championship MVP. Peach Bowl MVP. ‘Nuff said.
At some point in the middle of the 4th quarter I realized that we were all watching the National Championship game, just as we had watched the National Championship be decided in the SEC Championship game in 2007. TCU is a nice story. TCU was/is going the get run out of the stadium by whichever team won Saturday night. I think those around me sensed it to because the energy level rose in the building with every play.
And remember when Kirby was new to us and faking punts and field goals in big moments? He has grown light years in the area of game management and called one of the greatest time outs in the history of football just before Ohio State tried a fake punt that would have worked.
So many big moments. Do you realize how big it was that Brock Bowers made that first down on the six-yard-line? And he DID make the first down. Do you know how big it was that we finally stiffened in the red zone a couple of times and made Ohio State kick? Do you realize how smart Smart was for kicking the field goal after the ill-conceived pass that Stetson short-armed to Ladd McConkey down at the twelve?
So many factors. But in the end what mattered was that Stetson Bennett led the Georgia Bulldogs back from a 14-point 4th quarter deficit to take a 42-41 lead and as the clock struck midnight the Buckeye kicker missed a fifty-yard field goal and Georgia is on her way to California to play for a second straight National Championship. They have really run it back. How ‘bout them Dawgs.
TCU has about as much hope as the Horned Frogs had against Frank Sinkwich and the silver britches wearing Bulldogs of Wally Butts in the 1942 Orange Bowl.
Sinkwich, by the way, passed for three touchdowns and ran for another and amassed 355 yards in a 40-26 victory. Stetson Bennett heard about that game and said, “Hold my beer.”
Look for me Monday night in the land of the fruits and nuts. I’ll be the good-looking guy in the red shirt. Glory! Glory!
Darrell Huckaby is an author, educator and syndicated newspaper columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.