Dean’s List: Game-Ending Heartbreaks

Georgia has had its fair share of game-ending heroics under Mark Richt, but here is the flip side. These are the most devastating game-ending heartbreakers of the Mark Richt Era.

Game-Ending Heartbreaks of Mark Richt Era

1. 2012 vs. No. 2 Alabama

The look of disgust was obvious for the world to see as Aaron Murray walked of the field. Streamers fell from the roof of the Georgia Dome, but they may as well as have been daggers thrown in the heart of the Bulldog nation.

Alabama escaped Georgia in arguably the best SEC championship game in history, and Georgia was left to wonder what happened as it watched its best chance of winning the national title in three decades come to a painful a conclusion.

The No. 3 Bulldogs fell short by a few seconds or a few yards — either way — to lose 32-28 to No. 2 Alabama.

2. 2013 at No. 7 Auburn

For some games there are no explanations at the end of them that are good enough to validate miracles. That’s what happened when No. 7 Auburn came back to save themselves with a play that was almost as inexplicable as any other in the last 20 years of college football.

After being outplayed significantly for the first three quarters of the game, Georgia rallied to take the lead with only a few minutes remaining. It would have marked one of the greatest comebacks in Georgia history. But Nick Marshall, who had been thrown out of Georgia two years before, threw up a prayer that was answered on a fourth-and-long play.

The play happened after Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews failed to break up a pass that was well off the mark. Instead the duo kept the ball alive enough for Ricardo Louis to grab the ball and walk into the end zone.

The crowd at Auburn had never been that loud.

Still, Aaron Murray scrambled the Bulldogs the length of the field with time dwindling. Murray’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete as time expired, and the Tigers went on to take one of the most miraculous wins in series and college football history.

3. 2005 vs. No. 15 Auburn

Georgia had already lost to hated Florida a few weeks before without starting quarterback D.J. Shockley playing. Shockley sat out against the Gators with a MCL injury he suffered against Arkansas. He decided to give it a go against Auburn and nearly did enough to win the game.

The two rivals fought to a dramatic fourth quarter conclusion that wound up with the Tigers needed to complete a long fourth down (stop me if this sounds familiar) just to say in the game. That’s when Brendan Cox found open hands for a long gainer that found him in the shadow of the end zone.

That’s when the ball came loose, but a mad scramble to recover it wound up with the ball rolling harmlessly out of the end zone. The Tigers were awarded the ball in prime position to kick the game-winning field goal as time ran out.

4. 2003 vs. No. 23 Florida

Georgia’s frustrations with the Gators were ever-present from 1991 to 2010. But one of the most heartbreaking games was the 2003 decision that saw a pedestrian Florida squad hang with the Bulldogs for the bulk of the game.

Georgia was struggling to score, as it had all season. The stingy Gator defense was making it difficult on the Bulldogs as the night wore on in Jacksonville. Out of answers, Georgia punted one final time in hopes that its defense could stop Florida and send the game to overtime.

But the Gators figured out how to move the ball against the Bulldogs’ defense — one of the better sides in the SEC that season. As the fourth quarter came to a close, the Gators drove down the field and kicked the game-winning field goal as time ran out on the clock.

5. 2010 vs. Florida

For a long time during Georgia’s losing streak against Florida, the Gators were simply the better team and program. But by 2010, neither team had done much to impress. Georgia started the season 1-4; the Gators had lost their fair share of games as well.

Both teams came into the game unranked for the first time in decades. But the game didn’t disappoint.

After Florida gained what looked like a lead too much to overcome, Aaron Murray and Georgia streaked back to tie the game at 30. But the Bulldogs never could get the lead. Florida’s final offensive drive of overtime was fruitless.

For the first time ever the two bitter rivals were headed to overtime.

On Georgia’s first possession, Murray threw into triple coverage in attempt to hit A.J. Green. Joe Haden picked off the ball and ran the length of the field but didn’t score. The Florida bench erupted, but the game wasn’t over and no penalty flag was thrown for excessive celebration.

The Gators couldn’t move in their offensive inning. So they push kicker Chaz Henry out for the game-winning field goal attempt. Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham told Henry he was going to choke.

He didn’t, and the Gators celebrated their final win in the series until 2014.

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