Dawgs Over Tech is an Old Sweet Song
It just never gets old. I don’t care how often it happens or what route we take to victory, beating Georgia Tech just never gets old. Saturday’s win at the Joke by the Coke will go down as one of the most memorable victories over Tech for a multitude of reasons. Not since Buck Belue was a Bullpup had the Dawgs overcome such a large deficit in the State Championship game. A season that had begun with visions of Pasadena dancing in our heads had seen the team devastated by injury after injury. We were starting a quarterback who had never started a college game—albeit a very talented and capable one—and our already shaky defensive secondary was without two starters at game time.
Add that to the fact that we spotted the Nerds and coaching genius Paul Johnson 20 points and a Georgia victory was looking very unlikely midway through the second quarter—but games don’t end midway through the second quarter, they last sixty minutes and sometimes longer—and there has never been an ounce of quit in these 2013 Bulldogs.
I was making my first appearance at historic Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium on The Flats by the projects across the expressway from the Varisty since 2007. My children had banned me from the premises because of my penchant for engaging in fisticuffs with Jacket fans. I should make it clear that I have never, ever started a fight with a Tech fan.
They felt sorry for me this year, however, and agreed that I could attend the game if I promised to be good. I did and I was—for most of the game.
I need to get something off my chest right here. I have heard numerous Tech people say that they don’t go to Athens because the fans are so rowdy and ugly to them. Horse hockey. They don’t go to Athens because they don’t like getting their asses handed to them and the Georgia Tech fans I have encountered in Atlanta are, without a doubt, the most classless fans in college football. Their institution pays for signs proclaiming “To Hell With Georgia.” They were held up in front of me all night long. Their student body taunted the Georgia players before the game mercilessly. Over and over and over the cheerleaders would scream “What’s the good word?” The response was always “To hell with Georgia!” Finally they would holler “How ‘bout them Dawgs!” followed by “Piss on them.”
They even had rubber mats in the bottoms of their ancient urinals proclaiming “Piss on Georgia.”
Yeah, they have a lot of class. And they are such poor fans—or maybe they are just realists—that they didn’t even fill up their dinky little stadium. The student sections were at least a third empty and there was at least as much red as there was black in the seats. What a pitiful excuse for a program.
But they did come out strong. I’ll give them that. I will admit that Todd Grantham had our defense ready to play the perfect option but Tech coach Paul “Fish Fry” Johnson kept running trick plays. He used the forward pass. It apparently hadn’t occurred to us that the Nerds might do that.
If it occurred to us we didn’t have anybody who was capable of covering their receivers downfield and we made Vad Lee look like Johnny Unitas. Meanwhile, on our side of the ball, we were completely out of sync. Our offensive line had inexplicably forgotten how to block and Hutson Mason was, understandingly a bit jittery. The result was a first quarter dominated by the Jackets. They scored a touchdown the first minute of the game and when the first stanza ended with Hutson Mason being thrown to the turf for one of Jeremiah Attaochu’s four sacks Tech had outgained the Dawgs 162-45 and outscored Georgia 17-0.
I know at least two dozen people that at that very moment were planning what they were going to say, text and e-mail to me and post on my Facebook wall when the game was over. They can save that stuff for a few more years because the game would begin to turn midway through the second period when the Georgia stood up and held Tech to a field goal when a touchdown had looked very likely and would have made the score 24-0, which psychologically just looks worse than 20-0 and requires four scores to overcome instead of three.
From that point the game changes. Hutson Mason began to get his feet under him, literally and figuratively and Todd Gurley was more like Todd Gurley. Don’t think that the touchdown the Dawgs scored just before halftime wasn’t big. It gave Georgia hope and planted doubt in the minds of the Tech players.
The second half really belonged to Georgia, but it was sort of like pushing a rope uphill and even though we dominated play for the last two periods it didn’t look like we would be able to dig ourselves out of the hole we were in. In fact, late in the fourth quarter Tech with Tech still holding a ten point lead the entire Yellow Jacket team was dancing on the sideline and playing to the crowd.
The key play in the game might have been Georgia’s conversion of a 4th and 8 in their own territory. It was put up or shut up time and the Georgia coaches and players put up. The rest, as they say, is history. Georgia followed that conversion with a touchdown and then Josh Harvey-Clemons finally forced the turnover we needed and picked off a Vad Lee pass to set up the tying field goal. The defense hunkered and forced Tech to punt with the game clock winding down and we were in OT on The Flats.
They scored and the joint was rocking. We scored on three Todd Gurley runs and chants of “UGA! UGA!” drowned out the Tech crowd, band and ghetto music that was being played abnormally loud in the Bandbox by the Hood.
Our turn to have the ball again. Todd Gurley needed one touch to race into the end zone and then the defense hunkered. Tech made it as far as the Georgia three before being driven back to the six. Paul Johnson took and knee on the Tech sideline and asked God to reveal the perfect play. God’s answer was batted into the air first and then finally to the turf and Georgia had beaten Tech for the fifth straight time and the 12th time in 13 years.
Johnson turned his eyes skyward and asked, “God, why did you tell me to run that play?” and God answered, “I don’t know. Erk, why did we tell Paul to run that play?” while Larry Munson lit a big stogie and Lewis Grizzard hurried off to his typewriter to write some new Tech jokes. I mean other than the ones Paul Johnson recruited.
Glory, glory. It was great to be a Bulldog on Saturday night at Sanford Stadium West as Chris Conley planted the big flag with the Super G firmly into the historic sod of old Grant Field.
Look for me at the bowl game, y’all. I’ll be the good looking guy in the red shirt; the one with “To Hell With Tech!” tattooed on his derriere.
Darrell Huckaby is an author, educator and syndicated newspaper columnist. Visit his website at www.darrellhuckaby.net.