Moments That Made Mark Richt: P44

Dean Legge writes about the ten moments that made Mark Richt at Georgia.

As soon as his team broke the huddle Mark Richt knew he had a winner.

All David Greene would have to do is make the game-winning play… something, everyone was about to find out, he was very good at.

After controlling the game for much of the second half, Richt and the Georgia sideline watched as the Vols took a very late 24-20 lead on a 66-yard screen pass from Casey Clausen to Travis Stephens.

With only 37 seconds left in the contest, Greene flew the Bulldogs down the field to the Tennessee six-yard line. That’s when Richt called P44 - designed to slip the fullback into the end zone past the linebackers. The play was set so that veteran fullback Verron Haynes and running back Musa Smith would both run downhill from their I-formation.

Greene faked the ball into Smith - using play action to freeze the Vols’ linebackers - and Haynes ran into the back of the end zone. By the time Keyon Whiteside realized Haynes was running past him it was too late - Greene lobbed the ball over Whiteside’s head, and Georgia had defeated the Vols in Knoxville for the first time since 1980.

Larry Munson’s “We just stepped on their face with a Hobnail Boot” call might be his most famous, but it signified a sea change in the SEC East. Mark Richt’s Georgia team wasn’t like those of Jim Donnan’s and Ray Goff’s. Under Richt, Georgia would perform in big games.

They would go on to win the SEC East and the conference itself. P44 remains the most important moment in the making of Mark Richt because the start of his career was too much to ignore. After years of losing important games, Georgia was winning them. After years of being blown out by the likes of the Vols and Gators, Georgia was now winning those games.

Richt’s call in that game - P44 - was remains the defining moment in his career at Georgia… even 14 years later. Without that win would Greene and company have the nerve and belief to go on to win games against South Carolina, Alabama and Auburn in 2002? The win in Knoxville gave the program something to believe in again.

It gave the Bulldogs hope, and that was something that hadn’t been around for a long, long time.

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