Here’s something I bet you didn’t know about this game, courtesy of the official Georgia Tech website:
A.J. Suggs saw his first action of the 2003 season. Before he entered the game on Tech’s final possession of the first half, Reggie Ball had taken every snap this season – a total of 785 offensive plays.
Yep, Chan Gailey hitched his wagon with a vengeance to the kid who would become the central figure for Georgia Tech in the next four years of the series, much to the chagrin of Jacket fans and much to the delight of Dawg fans. In 2003, Ball’s erratic play combined with his edgy on the field persona led Tech to yet another seven-win season, something Gailey’s teams specialized in.
The capper in this game was Ball’s departure before the end of the first half, which occurred immediately (and suspiciously) after a notable personal foul called against him for shoving a Georgia trainer on the sidelines. Why suspicious? In the words of the Red and Black,
Worst vague injury report: Reggie Ball’s. Ball left the game after the personal foul shove and didn’t return. Georgia Tech said he had a “possible concussion,” but the freshman was jumping around on benches and yelling at the start of the second half. So it must have been pretty bad.
In the wake of Ball’s behavior, it’s easy to forget how much was on the line for Georgia in this game. Because there was a three way tie in the SEC East going into the match, the team ranked highest in the BCS standings would be selected by a vote of the conference ADs to advance to the SECCG. It was the kind of situation that Tech fans dream of and blather about – the chance to knock out the Dawgs’ postseason hopes. Instead, this one was over by halftime, as Georgia marched out to a 20-3 lead and never looked back.
If there were any concern that Georgia entered the game feeling tight, that was erased early on with this play:
Larry was so impressed he did a mashup of Greene’s and Gibson’s names.
The second score was set up by the special teams.
By the way, catch the officiating crew. Recognize anybody? It’s a wonder Ball made it almost to the half. ESPN did note that
… Speaking of ugly, the state rivals showed plenty of animosity for each other. Georgia was penalized five times for late hits and unsportsmanlike conduct, while Georgia Tech was flagged three times — including a penalty against Ball for shoving a Georgia trainer after being pushed out of bounds near the Bulldogs’ bench.
The officials finally called Greene and Georgia Tech linebacker Keyaron Fox to midfield, hoping to calm things down.
“There was a lot of talking,” Georgia fullback Jeremy Thomas said. “When everyone knows each other, you’ve always got something to say.
The teams traded scores in the second half, but by then Tech was not a threat. The box score was not as lopsided in Georgia’s favor as that of the prior year’s, but then, neither was the game:
|Team Statistics||Georgia||Georgia Tech|
|Rushes-Yards||38 – 106||41 – 146|
|Sacked-Yards lost||2 – 12||3 – 19|
|Passes||16 – 22 – 0||21 – 38 – 3|
|Punts-Average||5 – 33.2||3 – 19.3|
|Fumbles-Lost||2 – 1||2 – 1|
|Penalties-Yards||11 – 113||6 – 65|
|Time of Possession||27:40||32:20|
Georgia still managed to wind up with 400 yards of offense and a +3 turnover margin. That would more than suffice.
The Dawgs went on to the SECCG and Reggie Ball went on to be… well, Reggie Ball. The game marked the beginning of a beautiful relationship.