Reggie Brown blocked a first-quarter punt by Tennessee's Dustin Colquitt, and the deflected ball bounced out of the end zone for a safety just before Ben Watson could fall on the ball for a touchdown.
In the second quarter, with Georgia still leading 2-0, Boss Bailey soared to block a 44-yard field goal attempt by Phillip Newman. Georgia took over on its 47 following a return by Decory Bryant, and seven plays later Billy Bennett kicked the first of his three field goals of the day.
In a season that has been packed with big plays by Georgia's special teams, Brown, Bailey and Bennett kept the momentum going. With his field goals from 27, 44 and 47 yards, Bennett now is 9 for 10 for the season.
"He has made every kick that counts so far,'' said Georgia coach Mark Richt.
Due to his well-known vertical leap record set in the summer, the biggest surprise about Bailey's block is that it is the first of the senior's career. The fact he is one of the top players on the team and still is on special teams says a lot about the role of the unit.
"It is just like offense and defense,'' Bailey said. "We put a lot of time into it every day in practice. It's just as important as any other part of the game.''
Brown was shocked he had an opportunity to block the punt because he misjudged the snap and was caught flat-footed when the ball was on its way to Colquitt.
"When I stood up, they snapped the ball and I didn't expect them to snap it that quick,'' Brown said. "I didn't get a really good jump like I should. It just opened up.''
Brown's block almost gave Georgia a touchdown instead of a safety. Neither Brown nor Watson could find the ball at first, and by spotting the ball quicker either player might have had a chance to keep it from rolling out of the end zone.
Georgia already has had a punt return by Damien Gary for a touchdown against New Mexico State, a kickoff return by Fred Gibson for a touchdown against Clemson, and a blocked punt against Northwestern State returned for a touchdown by Bruce Thornton. Against Tennessee, the special teams served to keep momentum with Georgia for the first three quarters.
"Every time it looked like Tennessee was going to get a little momentum in the first three quarters, we stopped them somehow on special teams,'' Richt said. "Our special teams have been special. There are a lot of people who deserve credit for that, a lot of players and a lot of coaches. The job they've done has been outstanding.''
Charles Odum is the beat writer for Dawg Post in Athens. He has over 20 years of experience covering Georgia football. He can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com
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