Tuesday, December 18

The 25 Biggest Plays of the Mark Richt Era, #15:
Touchdown Massaquoi!

Georgia 15, #15 Georgia Tech 12
Athens, Georgia, November 25, 2006

G 3-G T04 Matt Stafford pass complete to Mohamed Massaquoi for 4 yards to the GT0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 01:45.
Matt Stafford pass attempt to Mohamed Massaquoi good.


----------- 12 plays, 64 yards, TOP 07:05 -----------

OK, so the previous year's UGA-GT game had been the most nerve-wracking game in recorded history, but 2006 was awful close. And if anything, the opportunity for failure was that much greater, since for the first time in five years, Georgia was coming in as the underdog. Whereas we were unranked and had only just pulled ourselves out of our 1-4 midseason tailspin, Tech was rocking right along with a 9-2 record, a top-15 ranking, and a ticket to the ACC championship game already punched. Think about that for a second: Tech, not Georgia, was in danger of looking ahead to a conference-title game. It became a cliché, but if ever there was a year for Tech to finally snap their streak against the Dawgs, this was it.

Despite an absolutely horrendous performance by Reggie Ball -- 6-of-22 for 42 yards, no TDs, and two picks -- it actually looked like they might pull it off. After killing several promising drives with sacks or dumbass penalties and handing Tech a freebie FG by losing a fumble deep in their own territory, Georgia went into halftime scoreless for the fourth time that year; a mind-blowingly heads-up fumble recovery by Tony Taylor finally put some points on the board for Georgia in the third quarter, but Tech rode the legs of Tashard Choice back into a 12-7 lead in the fourth.

Unbeknownst to anyone, though, Mike Bobo had been handed the reigns to the offense by Mark Richt before the game, and he proceeded to call a drive that will surely earn a paragraph or two in the Georgia history books. Starting at the 8:50 mark, Georgia got a couple pretty first-down passes from Matt Stafford, then powered down into the red zone behind Danny Ware; all told, we wiped more than seven minutes off the clock. It was an incredibly tense seven minutes, though, because I was sitting at the Tent City watching the game on the satellite, and the brief tape delay meant that the crowd at the game would react to plays a couple of seconds before we actually got to see them; if we heard a huge cheer from Sanford Stadium just a little ways down the street, it meant something cool was about to happen, but if the crowd was silent for too long, it meant trouble. And the silence was positively leaden as Danny Ware pounded ahead twice from the 4 yard line, only to be stopped for no gain.

But on third-and-goal, the crowd erupted into the loudest roar I'd heard all night -- and a couple seconds later, I got to watch Matt Stafford drop back, completely fool the Tech defense with a pump fake, and then drop one right over the middle to a by then wide-open Mohamed Massaquoi. Just for good measure, he also hit MoMass for the two-point conversion that put us up by a full field goal. When Reggie Ball threw into triple-coverage and got picked off by Paul Oliver on the next drive, it was almost academic; based on the day Ball was having and his epic career-long parade of brain flatulence against Georgia, you would've been surprised if he hadn't found a way to screw this one up, too. By the time the clock hit zero, I was literally jumping around in the street.

Calling the 2006 team the worst team of Mark Richt's tenure at Georgia is kind of insulting to a very resilient group of guys who managed to beat South Carolina and Auburn and finish 9-4, but there's no doubt they had weathered the worst stretch of Richt's career -- and even that team managed to knock off what was easily Tech's best team since the Joe Hamilton years. You can't demoralize a hated in-state rival much more thoroughly than that. The Dawgs' win streak against the Yellow Jackets remained intact, Game Ball finished his career 0-4 against UGA, and after a couple of very frustrating months, Georgia was able to finish the season on the highest of high notes.


C. Paul said...

Doug, my favorite view of that series is right after the 2 point conversion that followed (again to MoMass) and the TV pans to the coaches and in unison, you see CMR, Blake Barnes and Joe Cox all applaud at the same time - like they were in sync.

Go Dawgs!

Josh M. said...

Don't mean to pimp my own blog, but I still like looking at my little photo essay of that day.

duff said...

I would have thought the best play from that game, in your minds at least, would have been the sequence of plays made by our very own Reggie "Game" Ball... the sheer, utter magnitude of his collapse in that game was astounding, I think even you would have to agree. As quoted from josh's blog above: "six for 22 with 42 yards, two interceptions, three sacks, and negative 10 rushing yards". Wasn't there a fumble or 3 in there also, or is that just my faulty recollection filling in the gaps in that list of negative stats?

Calvin Johnson may have a good future ahead of him, but "Game" Ball... wow, what else can I say.

Hobnail_Boot said...

God bless Tony Taylor.

DAve said...

Oh no, duff, you're totally correct about there being "a fumble in there somewhere". It was Ball's fumble that was picked up by Taylor and returned for a score.

Anonymous said...

I think there is some irony in that if PJ had been the Tech coach while Ball was there, history might have been a lot different. I'm glad he wasn't.