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May 28, 2010

Fourth and Dumb

"[Our coaching staff] did a miserable job in the second half…I made some dumb calls."
- Florida head coach Doug Dickey, following Georgia's 41-27 win over the Gators in 1976

Midway through the third quarter of the 1976 Georgia-Florida game (the first between the schools when both were ranked in the top ten), Coach Dickey's failed call on 4th down and less than a yard inside his own 30-yard line was the turning point of the eventual Bulldog victory.

The Gators, who entered the game three-point underdogs, dominated the first half and held a 27-13 lead at the intermission.  Early in the third quarter, Georgia scored on a Ray Goff-to-Ulysses Norris touchdown pass.  On the ensuing possession is when the usually conservative Dickey decided to attempt the fourth-down gamble.

A Jacksonville newspaper ran an article the next day titled "Fourth and Dumb."  Florida's Earl Carr, the fullback who was dropped for no gain by cornerback Johnny Henderson, even questioned his own coach: “When I was running the play I was asking myself why in the world we were running this play.”

Six plays following the fourth-down stop, Al Pollard's touchdown run was the second of four unanswered touchdowns by the Bulldogs en route to their 14-point win.

After the Gators gained 234 yards and scored 27 points in the first half, the Junkyard Dogs held them to 65 and 0 in the second.  Georgia's Ray Goff rushed for 124 yards, completed all five of his passes, and was responsible for five of the team's six touchdowns in earning the Chevrolet Offensive Player of the Game.

As the game's final seconds were ticking off, sideline reporter Jim Lampley told Goff about the recognition.  The senior quarterback thanked Lampley but thought a fallen teammate, who had died just prior to the start of the season, was more deserving.

"I'd like to give [the honor] to Hugh Hendrix and put it in his name," said Goff.  "He inspired us all...Praise the Lord."

As the game ended, Goff and his teammates attempted to wade through the thick, celebrating crowd.  One player remarked that it was easy for the Bulldogs to get through the Florida defense in the second half, but reaching the dressing room after the game was a different story.

On the same field, a high school football game soon followed the battle between the Bulldogs and Gators; however, it was played without the Gator Bowl's original goal posts.  They had both been just torn down by a jubilant throng dressed in red and black.


Chinatown said...

Where'd you get that video?

That's my earliest UGA football memory. I was 6, sitting in the floor, while my dad (UGA '68) watched the game.

Whenever I see old college football video like that (youtube or ESPN Classic), I think that there was a higher level of intensity to the game back then. Not sure. Just my take.

I think the analyst was Ara Parseghian. I remember him from CBS in the 1980s but didn't know he ever worked for ABC.

Patrick Garbin said...


A fellow Dawg fan sent me a DVD containing most of the game a while back.

I totally agree with you about the intensity. Notice nearly the entire team come off the sideline after the 4th-down stop.

That is Ara. I believe he was with ABC from 1975 (the year after his final season at NDame) until the early 80s.

Thanks for reading and posting.

Matthew Amerson said...

Al Pollard is the principal of my school now. It's cool to see him playing in red and black.

Unknown said...

Al pollard is now our principal at Atkinson county high in Pearson, GA