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August 2, 2010

Hometown Hero

A few days ago, I saw where Bernie's Dawg Blawg posted a piece on Anthony "Amp" Arnold and I wanted to post a follow-up of sorts. 

Like Bernie, I too grew up in Athens, so I tend to follow more closely Bulldogs from the Classic City.  Also, I've blogged about freshman David Archer's interception and Eddie Lee Ivery's injury from the '78 Tech game, the least I can do is post video of Arnold's game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion.

I looked up and here came the ball. All I had to do was catch it and cruise.

- Amp Arnold

Amp was an extraordinary quarterback at Cedar Shoals High but was immediately switched to wide receiver when he came to UGA in 1977.  A tremendous athlete, Arnold was also recruited by Louisville to play basketball.

Entering his freshman year, Arnold stood at 6' 0", 170 pounds and could flat out fly, running a 4.4-40.  Charlie Whittemore, the Bulldogs' receivers coach from 1978-1990, said he was the quickest receiver he ever coached.  That's saying a lot, considering the speedsters under Whittemore: Lindsay Scott, Chuck Jones, "Fast" Freddie Lane, Cassius Osborn, Arthur Marshall, Andre Hastings... 

Amp (1977-1980) is one of only a handful of Bulldogs to rank fourth or better at Georgia in receiving for four consecutive seasons, culminating with a team-high 20 catches for the 1980 national champions.  Arnold's 54 career catches (948 yards, 6 TDs) was eighth all-time at the school upon his departure from Georgia while he also added 258 yards and two TDs rushing during his Bulldog career. 

As a sophomore in 1978, Amp exhibited the passing prowess that made him an All-State quarterback in 1976, completing a 44-yard touchdown to Lindsay Scott against Florida - the difference in a 24-22 victory over the Gators.  Three weeks later against Georgia Tech, Arnold would throw the football again, completing a 20-yarder to tailback Matt Simon (announcer Al Michaels mentions the play towards the beginning of the video clip).

Soon thereafter, Arnold would be on the receiving end of a pass - the celebrated 42-yard touchdown from freshman Buck Belue on fourth and three, pulling the Bulldogs within a point of the Yellow Jackets, 28-27.  Arnold would follow that up by taking an option pitch from Belue and waltzing into the end zone for the game-winning points.

As a senior, Arnold and the rest of the Bulldogs faced Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl with the possibility of Georgia's first undisputed national championship on the line.

Leading 17-10 with just over two minutes remaining,  the Bulldogs faced a third and seven on the 50-yard line.  Having yet to complete a pass in 12 attempts (Belue 0 for 11, Herschel Walker 0 for 1), Georgia desperately needed a first down and would undoubtedly have to throw the ball to pick it up. 

Arnold caught a short pass from Belue on a rollout, picking up seven yards, barely the first down, and moving the chains.  The Bulldogs could now run out the clock and start their celebration.  

A little more than two years after being part of one of the greatest plays in Georgia football history, Arnold caught his team's lone completion in the program's greatest win.  The seven-yard reception is also arguably one of the most clutch catches in the annals of Bulldog football.

Not a bad way to end a collegiate playing career... 


Anonymous said...

I went to Cedar Shoals and graduated in the same class with Amp Arnold. Not only was he a fine football player and a damn good Dawg, he's also a darn nice guy.

Patrick Garbin said...

My mom has often mentioned the ungrad/grad class in early chilhood ed. at UGA she took with Amp and "Meat Cleaver" Weaver. She has said the samething - how nice they were.