1997 Flashback: Bulldogs clobber Gators, 37-17

JACKSONVILLE, FL-Saturday, November 1, 1997 will forever be remembered as one of the greatest days in University of Georgia Football history. The fifteenth-ranked Bulldogs pulled one of their biggest upsets ever with a stunning 37-17 domination of sixth-ranked and defending national champion Florida here at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Alltel Stadium.

Running back Robert Edwards rushed for 124 yards and a series-tying four touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to their first victory over the Southeastern Conference rival Gators since 1989. Georgia's verdict also snapped Florida's 25-game win streak against SEC Eastern Division opponents.

Georgia gave a stellar performance on both sides of the ball. Bulldog head coach Jim Donnan's offensive game plan was brilliant. Donnan threw everything from options to reverses at the Gators' swarming defense. Better yet, almost every play the Bulldogs used worked. Georgia Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines' juggernaut shut down the SEC's most feared offense. In fact, the Gators played three quarterbacks in the game, and Georgia's defense stopped them all. The Bulldogs consistently applied pressure to Florida's offense, despite rushing only three or four players much of the game. Georgia intercepted four Gator passes, and could have had a few more.

Georgia overcame some first-quarter mistakes and played almost flawlessly the rest of the game. The Bulldogs (7-1 overall; 5-1 SEC) controlled much of the first half, riding two touchdowns by Edwards--a 27-yard first quarter run and a 1-yard dive over the goal line late in the second period, along with conversion kicks by Hap Hines and Dax Langley--to a 14-3 halftime lead. Florida's offense, which entered the game averaging 42 points each contest, rarely mounted a threat against the determined Bulldog defense.

Florida (6-2 overall; 4-2 SEC) did briefly take the lead in the third quarter. Gator quarterback Noah Brindise, who replaced ineffective sophomore starter Doug Johnson at the half, led Florida on successive scoring drives to give the Gators a 17-14 advantage at the 6:42 mark.

But Georgia came right back. Using utility player Hines Ward at quarterback and receiver, the Bulldogs rolled downfield, and starting quarterback Mike Bobo completed a 23-yard pass to wide receiver Corey Allen to give Georgia a first down on the Gators' 1-yard line. Edwards then scored again on another dive and Langley followed with the PAT for a 21-17 Georgia lead. The Bulldogs never trailed again.

Langley booted a 27-yard field goal with 9:02 remaining to put Georgia up 24-17. With 6:38 left, Georgia took the ball at the Florida 37 following a short punt. On the next play, Edwards took a routine sweep around the left side and literally tiptoed down the sideline untouched for a touchdown and a 30-17 Bulldog cushion with 5:58 to go.

A 7-yard insurance touchdown run by Georgia running back Olandis Gary, followed by Langley's extra point with 2:44 left completed the rout.

Bobo, who now serves as Georgia's quarterback coach, maintains that while he didn't have his most spectacular performance as a Bulldog in this game, the win was perhaps the biggest of his playing career.

"Our players pulled together and rallied around each other," said Bobo, who completed 16-of-27 passes for 260 yards. "We struggled a little early in the game, but we hung in there and made the plays when we needed to the most. I thank God for allowing me to play in this game. It was probably the most memorable win I was part of as a Georgia player." 

Ironically, Florida head coach Steve Spurrier may have summed up the game better than anyone. 

"The Georgia Bulldogs were a better team than the Florida Gators in this game and they proved it," said Spurrier, who was denied his 100th career coaching victory. "Georgia beat us in every aspect. The Bulldogs outcoached us and outplayed us. Florida has no excuses; Georgia is better than the Gators. They just beat us."

Thanks to UGA for the photo.


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