SF-7x

May 4, 2009

GREAT but OBSCURE Game #3

NOVEMBER 15, 1986:
GEORGIA 20, AUBURN 16
Starting Bulldogs quarterback James Jackson was granted permission to attend his grandmother's funeral the day of the 90th meeting between Georgia and Auburn. By the middle of the afternoon, Jackson had not reported back to the team. So, the Bulldogs gave the starting nod instead to Wayne Johnson (photo)--a sophomore who had played in less than half of Georgia's games, attempting just four passes all season.

PREGAME: Host Auburn entered the game with an 8-1 record, was ranked 8th in the nation, and held the inside track on capturing the SEC title. The Tigers had one of the nation's best defenses and an offense averaging 38 points per game which featured standouts Brent Fullwood (the eventual sixth-place finisher for the Heisman Trophy) and quarterback Jeff Burger.

Georgia's 6-3 mark was its worst after nine games in seven years. With games remaining against Auburn and Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs were still hoping to receive a bowl invitation. Georgia was a 10 1/2-point underdog to the Tigers--an already considerable spread set prior to Jackson's absence.

DETAILS: Auburn scored first on a 4-yard run by Reggie Ware, capping an 84-yard drive. However, Georgia retaliated and tied the score following an 8-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to tight end Troy Sadowski. In the final six minutes of the first half, Georgia kicker Steve Crumley booted two, short field goals and the Bulldogs led 13-7 at halftime. Soon following an Auburn field goal, Johnson scored on a 6-yard keeper and Georgia held a comfortable and surprising 20-10 lead late in the third quarter.

With 5:37 remaining in the game, Auburn was pinned down at its own 1-yard line but would drive 99 yards in 14 plays capped by a Burger to Lawyer Tillman scoring pass. Down 20-16, the Tigers would get the ball back at their own 6-yard line with 1:43 left in the contest. Three plays quickly moved Auburn to Georgia's 45-yard line. With only 54 seconds to play, linebacker Steve Boswell intercepted Burger, securing the unexpected Bulldogs victory. Georgia's win was its first as a double-digit underdog in more than 11 years (1975 vs. Florida) and would be the Bulldogs lone victory over Auburn in an eight season span (1983-1990).

PLAYER OF GAME: Led by linebackers John Brantley (20 tackles) and Boswell (19 tackles and game-winning interception), Georgia's defense held an explosive Auburn offense, for the most part, in check. In addition to intercepting Burger three times, the Bulldogs defenders limited Fullwood to less than five yards per carry (he entered averaging 9.1 yards per rush). Nevertheless, the star of the game was no doubt quarterback Wayne Johnson. He completed all but one of his seven passes, directed a running game that rushed for 239 yards against one of college football's best defensive units, and was responsible for both of Georgia's two touchdowns. Johnson accomplished all of this in a huge upset after finding out he would start only a few hours prior to kickoff.
STATISTICS:
Georgia-
17 first downs, 239 rush yds, 59 pass yds, 7-6-0 passes, 298 total yds, 0 fumb. lost
Lars Tate 24-94 rushing, Wayne Johnson 7-6-0-59 passing, Lars Tate 2-9 receiving
Auburn- 20 first downs, 138 rush yds, 233 pass yds, 36-19-3 passes, 371 total yds, 0 fumb. lost

Brent Fullwood 19-94 rushing, Jeff Burger 36-19-3-233 passing, Lawyer Tillman 9-150 receiving
RUNDOWN: In what Coach Vince Dooley called "a real 15-round fight," the skirmish continued into a 16th round. The 1986 Georgia-Auburn game might be best remembered for as the one played "between the hoses" as security personnel turned water cannons on celebrating fans who had stormed the field.
SEE VIDEO.

Unfortunately, innocent Bulldog bystanders in the northeast corner of Jordan-Hare Stadium would also be doused. Side story: An older brother of a good friend of mine was one of the Georgia enthusiasts who rushed the field that night and pulled up a portion of Auburn's "A-U" logo. Even today, he still has the clump of grass he pulled from the turf. The grass has long been shriveled and nearly black in color but the Auburn blue paint is still very evident in the souvenir he has kept for nearly 23 years.

After falling to Georgia, Auburn would defeat rival Alabama and later Southern Cal in the Citrus Bowl to finish 10-2 and #6 in the final AP poll. Following a week off, the Bulldogs defeated Georgia Tech for the first time in three years but later fell to Boston College in the Hall of Fame Bowl to end the year with an 8-4 mark.
Part of the
Great but Obscure games in Georgia football history... Previous games in series:
#2
1974 vs. Florida
#1
1936 vs. Fordham

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think almost every person getting sprayed by the water cannons had a drink in their hand. God Bless SEC football.

A Free Man said...

Really enjoying this site, great historical perspective! Thanks for taking the time to do it!

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