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August 9, 2012

One-Play Wonders

Against Ole Miss in '71, Pie Face scored from 39 yards
out on what was later dubbed the Pie Face Pitch. 
A fellow Bulldog history buff recently sent me video of Georgia's win over Arkansas in the 1987 Liberty Bowl.  Towards the end of the Bulldogs' thrilling 20-17 victory, I witnessed a Georgia football player I hadn't thought of in, well, 25 years, since the instant he made one of the biggest plays in Bulldog bowl history.

Those that remember the '87 Liberty Bowl usually recall freshman John Kasay's 39-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.  However, there was another first-year Dog that was just as responsible for the victory, but forgotten by most (and for good reason) cornerback Carver Russaw.

Roughly 2½ years ago, I posted my opinion of Georgia football's all-time one-hit wonders, or Bulldogs that made quite an impact in their one and only (more or less) season at the school.  Seeing the obscure Russaw's game-saving play, which would set up Kasay's winning field goal, prompted me to establish my One-Play Wonders, or those Bulldogs that played very little, but had a memorable Georgia career because of a single play.

Beginning with my honorable mention selection, a couple of my one-play wonders might be somewhat of a stretch, so to speak. Take John Jennings, for example, who was a starting offensive guard in 1970 and 1971, and obviously involved in many plays; however, he is best remembered for making one play, and only one, in particular. 

HM: JOHN JENNINGS (1971- Ole Miss)
Against Ole Miss in Jackson, Georgia tailback Ricky Lake broke off a first-quarter, 5-yard run from the Rebel 44-yard line, but was suddenly blindsided by a defender as he attempted to break a tackle.  The ball popped in the air and into the awaiting arms of Jennings, who was nicknamed "Pie Face" by animated teammate Bobby Poss (Aaron Bonding, where it's always springtime... I heard 'dat!).  In the modern era of UGA football, by my count, five offensive linemen have "rushed" for touchdowns, four of them by falling on a fumble in the end zone Mike Wilson vs. Kentucky in 1975, Peter Anderson vs. Clemson in 1985, Jon Stinchcomb vs. Auburn in 2002, and Nick Jones vs. Georgia Tech in 2003.  However, standing alone is Pie Face, who scored his touchdown by not falling on the ball, but by grabbing it in mid-air and rumbling for a 39-yard touchdown.

No. 5: ROY SMITH (1913- Clemson)
Freshman Roy Smith from
Georgia's 1913 team photo 
During his lone year at UGA, freshman John "Roy" Smith contributed little during the Red and Black's eight-game 1913 campaign until the Clemson contest at Augusta's Georgia-Carolina Fair.  With Georgia trailing 15-6 in the final quarter, the 150-pound end became more like a two-play wonder, catching first a 30-yard touchdown pass from Bob McWhorter and then later snaring a 45-yard game-winner from the All-American halfback.  Not long after scoring his two momentous touchdowns in Georgia's 18-15 comeback victory, by all accounts, Smith departed the school for reasons unknown.

No. 4: ADRIAN REESE (1995- New Mexico State)
After being one of the most highly-touted recruits in the state of Alabama, running back Adrian Reese rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown as a freshman at Auburn in 1992.  After that, he would not see the field again until transferring and walking on at Georgia three years later.  In three games for the Bulldogs in 1995, Reese rushed only 6 times for 23 yards with the bulk of his work coming in his first game a 40-13 win over New Mexico State.  Early in the third quarter against the Aggies, Reese scored on a short touchdown run; however, he would later join the rash of Bulldog injuries that season by pulling a hamstring.  To date, of the more than 400 different Georgia players to have scored a touchdown in the modern era (1940s to the present), Reese is the only one who did not earn a letter as a Bulldog.   

No. 3: BILLY CLOER (1965- North Carolina)
In one of Vince Dooley's biggest comebacks of his coaching career, the head coach's favorite one-play wonder resulted.  Trailing 35-21 in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs rallied to score 26 points at Chapel Hill to defeat North Carolina, 47-35.  The most decisive of these four unanswered touchdowns came with Georgia trailing 35-34 in the closing minutes.  Junior Bill Cloer was listed at 5-10 and 157 pounds measurements said to be slightly exaggerated and positioned at safety-man, although he really only saw playing time on special teams.  On an onside-kick attempt, Georgia's kick went directly to UNC tackle Chuck Alexander, who "was looking into the sun and didn't see the ball until it was on him," according to Tar Heel head coach Jim Hickey after the game.  Alexander fumbled the ball, and there was "Little Billy" for the Bulldog recovery.  Soon afterwards, Preston Ridlehuber scored on a 31-yard run, and Georgia took a lead it would not relinquish.

No. 2: CARVER RUSSAW (1987- Arkansas)

Despite what the announcer states, Russaw was not from Los Angeles, Louisiana, but the other, more well-known Los Angeles.  After attending California's Glendale Community College, Russaw transferred to UGA in 1986 and was redshirted.  In 1987, the junior third-string cornerback recorded only one tackle the entire regular season.  In the postseason against Arkansas, Russaw was inserted with less than a minute remaining of a tied game and with the Hogs looking to pass.  Georgia's "Cover 8" defense was designed to funnel all pass receivers into the middle of the field and force quarterback Greg Thomas to throw into traffic.  Russaw jammed receiver Tim Horton toward linebacker Terrie Webster, who tipped a Thomas pass towards the little-known defensive back.  Later declared academically ineligible prior to his senior season of 1988, Russaw set up the Bulldogs' winning score with a 14-yard interception return on what would turn out to be his final play at Georgia.

No. 1: DAVID ARCHER (1978- Georgia Tech)
For three football seasons from 1978 through 1980, defensive back David Archer hardly played on Georgia's varsity team before finally deciding to transfer out of the school.  However, of the handful of snaps he did appear in a Bulldog uniform, Archer would become UGA football's all-time one-hit wonder, resulting against arguably the team's biggest rival.  Overshadowed by Buck Belue's "game-winning" touchdown pass to Amp Arnold with more than two minutes remaining against Georgia Tech in 1978, and Arnold's two-point conversion to give the Bulldogs a one-point lead, freshman Archer was sent in the game to solely cover the Jackets' tight end on the ensuing possession.  Appearing in his first play of the contest in just his second game as a Bulldog, Archer's diving interception of a Mike Kelley pass clinched a 29-28 victory.  Like Russaw, Archer's interception would be his final play on Georgia's varsity before leading another school one in rather close proximity to a national championship.


Anonymous said...

Michael Johnson vs. Auburn '02

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.