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College Classic Rewind: Walker’s 4TDs Carry Dawgs To Win Over Gators

Posted on October 26, 2011 by A.J. Foss

In 1980, the greatest moment in the rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators occurred when Georgia quarterback Buck Belue connected with Lindsay Scott on a 93-yard touchdown pass in the final minutes to give the Bulldogs a 26-21 victory over the Gators and helped propelled Georgia to the national championship.

One year later, Florida looked for a shot at redemption as they met the defending national champions in Jacksonville.

The Gators entered the game with a 5-3 overall record and 2-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Florida was led by third-year head coach Charley Pell, who had turned around the Gators following a 0-10-1 season in 1979 to a 8-4 season in 1980 and a win in the Tangerine Bowl.

While Florida is trying to become a consistent winning power, Georgia was in the hunt for a second straight national championship despite an early season loss to Clemson.

The Dawgs were the #4 team in the country with a 7-1 record on a team that featured only nine returning starters from the 1980 championship team.

However, three of the returning starters were the two heroes from the 1980 Florida game in Belue and Scott, and superstar running back Herschel Walker.

Though the first eight games of the 1981 season, the sophomore had gained 1,309 yards on 265 yards and scored 11 touchdowns as he rushed for more than 100 yards in every game to this point.

In the Dawgs’ showdown with the Gators, Walker put together one of his finest performances as a Georgia Bulldog.

Florida got the ball to start the game and drive from their own 24-yard-line to the Georgia 20-yard-line until Peace was sacked twice, knocking the Gators out of field goal range.

The Gators drove to the red zone again in the second quarter but Peace was intercepted by Tim Bobo at the Dawgs’ two-yard-line, to kill another scoring opportunity for Florida.

Midway through the second quarter, Florida finally got on the scoreboard when Peace fired a deep pass for tailback Steve Miller, who outran Bobo to catch the pass at the 20-yard-line, and then ran in untouched to complete the 54-yard touchdown, which gave the Gators a 7-0 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, Walker made a rare mistake as the ball went through his hands at his own three-yard-line and into the end zone.

Walker went back into the end zone to get and then instead of taking a touchback, ran it out of the end zone where he was tackled at his own 2-yard-line.

It only got worse for Georgia when on the next play, fullback Ronnie Stewart fumbled the ball after a hit by Florida linebacker Fernando Jackson, with the Gators recovering at the five-yard-line.

Fullback James Jones punched it in from the one-yard-line on 4th-and-goal to give the Gators a 14-0 lead.

Florida quaterback Wayne Peace was good, but not good enough to beat Georgia.

After both teams went three-and-out on their next possession, the Dawgs got the ball at their own 32-yard-line with just 70 seconds before halftime.

Belue completed two passes to get Georgia to the Florida 24-yard-line, then hit Walker on a screen pass, who made the catch at the 20 and then outran the Gator defense to get into the end zone and cut the deficit to 14-7 right before the end of the first half.

The score was still 14-7 in the third quarter when the Dawgs put together a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with another touchdown pass from Belue to Walker.

This time, Belue found Walker over the middle for a 16-yard touchdown pass that with the extra point by Kevin Butler, tied the game at 14.

Most of the yardage on the drive actually came through the air as Belue completed four passes for 63 yards which included two key 3rd down conversions and his touchdown pass to Walker.

Following a three-and-out by the Gators, the Dawgs got another touchdown as Walker scored a 4-yard touchdown run to end a seven-play, 48-yard drive to give Georgia their first lead of the game.

But Butler missed the extra point, the first time Georgia had missed an extra point after 130 straight successful extra point conversions, keeping the lead at 20-14 with 13:40 left in the fourth quarter.

After being held in check during the third quarter, the Gator offense got back on track as Peace lead Florida on a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive which culminated with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Peace to flanker Spencer Jackson.

Peace completed five of six passes for 76 yards on the drive that went with the successful extra point gave the Gators a 21-20 lead with 10:25 remaining in the fourth quarter.

A clipping penalty on the ensuing kickoff put Georgia at their own five-yard-line for their next possession.

That is where Walker and the Dawgs put together a drive for the ages.

Herschel Walker accounted for all four of Georgia's touchdowns in their 26-21 victory over Florida.

Walker got the ball on the first three plays of the drive and gained 14 yards to get Georgia out of their shadow and to their own 19-yard-line.

After a one-yard-run by Belue, Walker got the ball again on a 3rd-and-8 from the 20-yard-line, and got the eight yards needed for a 1st down.

Tight end Clearance Kay drew a false start penalty to push the Dawgs back five yards to their own 23-yard-line for a 1st-and-15.

Belue hit Scott for eight yards on 1st down, then scrambled for seven yards to give the Dawgs a 1st down at their own 37-yard-line.

After Belue’s 1st down pass was batted down, Walker carried it 14 yards for a 1st down inside Gator territory.

Then after Walker was stopped for no gain and Belue scrambled for only two yards, Georgia was faced with a 3rd-and-8 from the Gators’ 47-yard-line when Belue and Scott struck once again as they connected for a 17-yard reception for a key 1st down.

Following Scott’s 3rd down catch, Walker carried the ball nine yards on 1st down, then broke loose up the middle for a 18-yard gain, with Gator safety Tony Lilly saving a touchdown as he stopped Walker at the three-yard-line.

On 1st-and-goal, Walker carried it two yards to the 1, then tried to dive for the touchdown only to be stopped by Glenn Myers for no gain to set up 3rd-and-goal from the 1.

Once again, Walker dove for the end zone and this time he was successful to put Georgia back in the lead.

In all, the Dawgs drove 95 yards in 17 plays, with Walker handling the ball 11 times for 65 yards on the drive that took up nearly eight minutes.

Georgia went for the two-point conversion to make a seven-point lead but Walker was stopped at the 1 to keep the lead at 26-21 with 2:31 remaining.

Florida began their ensuing possession at their own 22-yard-line but lost the ball on the first play from scrimmage when Peace completed a pass to Spencer Jackson at the Gators’ 35, only to have the ball jarred loose by safety Steve Kelly and defensive lineman Eddie Weaver recovering it for Georgia at the 27-yard-line.

After Walker carried the ball three times for one yard to finish the day with a SEC record 47 carries for 192 yards and two touchdown runs, as well as four receptions for 55 yards and two touchdown receptions plus two kickoff returns for 32 yards.

In all, Walker touched the ball 53 times for a total of 279 yards and scored four touchdowns.

Butler came on to attempt a game-icing 42-yard field goal but his kick was wide right and the Gators got the ball back with a chance to break Georgia’s hearts as they took over at their own 27-yard-line with 59 seconds and no timeouts.

However, Peace could only get his offense to the Georgia 35-yard-line as time expired and for the second year in a row, the Dawgs had defeated the Gators 26-21.

Florida would go on to win the final two games of the season to earn an invitation to the Peach Bowl where they were defeated by the West Virginia Mountaineers to finish the season with a 7-5 record.

Pell would guide the Gators to a top ten ranking in 1983 but had to resign following the third game of the 1984 season after the NCAA announced that the football program had committed 107 major rules violations.

As for Georgia, they would go to finish the season with a 10-2 record with a #5 ranking in the UPI Poll and #6 ranking in the AP Poll.

Walker finished the season with 1,891 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns but finish second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.

Walker returned for what would be his final season in 1982 and finally won the Heisman as he rushed for 1,752 yards and scored 16 touchdowns to lead Georgia to a undefeated regular season and a third straight SEC championship.

During his three seasons at Georgia, Walker ran for 5,259 yards and scored 49 touchdowns to etch his name as arguably the greatest college football running back of all time.

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