Sunday, December 16

The 25 Biggest Plays of the Mark Richt Era, #17:
The ballsiest onside kick ever.

Georgia 31, #14 Virginia Tech 24
Atlanta, Georgia, December 30, 2006

Play starts at 0.40.


Brian Mimbs kickoff 13 yards to the UGA48, on-side kick, recovered by UGA Brian Mimbs at the UGA48.

G 1-10 G48 GEORGIA drive start at 06:10 (3rd).

As Georgia came off of a 1-4 midseason slump in 2006 that included the now-infamous losses to Vandy and Kentucky, there was some question as to whether we'd be invited to a bowl at all. When we pulled our collective heads out of our asses and beat ranked Auburn and Georgia Tech teams to close out the regular season, we were fortunate to earn an invite to the Peach Bowl -- nope, still not gonna call it the "Chick-Fil-A Bowl" -- but considering that we were going up against the top-ranked defense in the country, few pundits were giving us a chance of scoring, much less winning.

At halftime, it looked like they might've been right. After marching down the field on our first drive to kick a field goal, Georgia gained all of two yards from scrimmage for the remainder of the half; meanwhile, VT piled on three rapid-fire touchdowns in the second quarter. The Tech fans (including my aunt and uncle) watching the game at Jocks 'n' Jills at the CNN Center, where we'd retreated to after a futile (and cold, and wet) search for tickets under $100, were obviously pretty excited about this. As for myself, I was just hoping we'd keep the Hokies' final margin of victory within 20 at that point.

On Georgia's second drive of the second half, we marched down to the Tech 24, where Stafford got sacked for a nine-yard loss, and Brandon Coutu nailed a 51-yard field goal. The exact wording of the text message I got from my friend Kristen at that moment was, "Coutu can not kick us out of this shitpickle!" Fortunately, he didn't have to.

On the ensuing kickoff, Georgia lined up in their usual formation, the only difference being that it was Brian Mimbs, not Andy Bailey, kicking the ball. But when Mimbs connected, instead of soaring through the air, the ball just sort of dribbled off the tee toward midfield. Onside kick!!!1!!1!!11! Mimbs executed the kick almost perfectly, and only one Hokie player was anywhere near the ball when it had finally hopped the required 10 yards. Mimbs pounced on his own kick, right in front of a clearly disgusted Frank Beamer, and Georgia got the ball right back just shy of midfield.

The Bulldog contingent both at Jocks 'n' Jills and inside the Georgia Dome were completely jacked up after that, and evidently, so was the team. The next drive culminated in a touchdown pass to Martrez Milner, and after a Tony Taylor interception to start the fourth quarter, we shot right down the field again and tied the game. That was the first of four consecutive VT drives that would end in Sean Glennon turnovers, and when the smoke cleared, Georgia had scored 28 straight points and beaten the 14th-ranked Hokies 31-24.

Like the third-quarter deep ball in this year's Auburn game, it was one of those plays where you could see the "momentum needle" jump from one side to the other right before your very eyes -- and looking back on it, this may actually have been the first glimpse of what would later come to be known as Evil Richt. The team was fighting back from a sizable deficit, they'd chipped into the lead a little bit, but Richt decided it was time to throw that comeback effort into a higher gear -- and did so with a defiant display of unabashed balls that his team had no choice but to be inspired by. (And it also apparently put the fear of God into the Hokies, particularly their offense.)

Losing to a ranked opponent in a bowl game wouldn't have been the end of the world, but it would've been a bit of a downer after the flourish with which we finished the regular season, particularly if we'd lost as bad as we looked like we were going to at halftime. Instead, we came out of probably the most miserable month of Richt's entire Georgia tenure to knock off three straight ranked teams for, as far as I know, the first time in program history. Here's hoping we see a lot more of that kind of guts in 2008.


Anonymous said...

I have to say that the more I read your blog, the more I wish I had a friend like Kristen.

C. Paul said...

I've never seen a game change more sharply and more decisively than the CFA Bowl. It's like the switch when on for us and off for VT. I love watching CJ just absolutely abuse the TE in the 3rd & 4th Q's.

Go Dawgs!