Lough: 2006 Sugar was an Epic

ATLANTA - And then there are epics.

There are games that may not have a trophy, per se, on the line. There's no championship, no familiarity, no history between two teams.

There are games where some wonder how competitive it might actually be, if the favored group is a little flat.

There are games, and there are epics, and here's a solid round of applause to West Virginia and Georgia for giving us the latter.

In an example to underdogs and the overlooked everywhere, West Virginia took down Georgia 38-35 Monday night - and into Tuesday morning - in a Sugar Bowl game at the Georgia Dome that was just an absolute monster.

Finally, at 12:45 a.m., Steve Slaton and Pat White stopped running.

Finally, at 12:45 a.m., Georgia defenders could actually get a look at the faces of the two West Virginia freshmen.

And for an hour or so, couches throughout Morgantown and West Virginia gave their lives for one of their program's biggest wins. WVU fans have torched living room pieces for less, so the intensity of this bonfire would be a bit higher.

Oh, never has the smell of burnt polyester and microfibers smelled so sweet.

Like Sugar.

Mountaineers lingered on the field as the band played their anthem, "Country Roads." They danced and high-fived and donned t-shirts and hats and took pictures and danced some more.

Amazing they had any energy left after the previous four hours of absolutely magnificent entertainment.

They were in a game that had 138 snaps from scrimmage.

That had 1,003 yards.

That had a mind-boggling gutsy fake punt call to seal it.

That had two freshmen rack up 408 yards passing, rushing and receiving.

That had enough slobber-knocking and decleating and jawing and helmet-knocking to satify the oldest of schools.

That had a quarterback go 20 of 33 for 277 yards and no interceptions lose.

What it was - to paraphrase an old Andy Griffith radio skit - was football, and it was a game worth talking about until spring football starts up. West Virginia was taking it Georgia a nd how. Bulldog defenders were slow to get up in the early stages as the Mountaineers just lined up and brought Southeastern Conference-like power from the mountains.

Georgia down 28-0? And playing with a full 11 on the field at a time? With normal rules in force?

That's what we were seeing.

Those couches in Morgantown barely had a chance to watch the game before it was apparent their lives would be in serious jeopardy.

Eventually, Georgia realized that not maybe it had caught a beast from the Big East, and the comeback was on.

Soon enough, it was on.

Maybe Georgia started slow. Maybe West Virginia just started faster. Maybe there are more good football teams out there than some want to admit.

Finally, Georgia players gave Georgia fans something to bark about, and it was 28-7.

West Virginia's offense finally slowed down to the speed limit, and Georgia's Thomas Brown - one of the five most underrated players in the nation - was stuck with a needle and blasted off for a 52-yard touchdown that left smoke behind him.

And it was 28-14, en route to a remarkable and rollicking 31-21 halftime score. Georgia speed started to make an appearance, and West Virginia hit a bit of a wall, and you could only start guessing how this thing would end.

Would West Virginia have enough gas in the tank?

Did Georgia fill up in time?

It went down to a first down after a fake punt minutes after a freshman ran 52 yards for a touchdown to complete a 95-yard drive.

Nothing at Six Flags is close to this ride.

I told you it would be wild. This? This was a bit much.

"If I wasn't coaching against 'em," a hoarse Mark Richt of Georgia said, "I really would really enjoy watching 'em."

Nobody expected what we saw, with points and yards and momentum switches and reviews and hits and gutty calls and tough players.

Somebody won, and somebody lost. But it was epic.


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