College football Old School Game of the Week: Georgia “Stings” Georgia Tech on Bobo-to-Allen last second TD
On November 16, 1996, Georgia quarterback Mike Bobo completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Corey Allen on the final play of regulation to send the Bulldogs’ game with the Auburn Tigers into overtime where the Dawgs would prevail 56-49 after four overtime periods.
Many Georgia observers and fans probably thought that Bobo and Allen would never complete another touchdown like the one at the end of that game.
But one year later, Bobo and Allen would once again etch their names into Georgia Bulldogs lore with a miracle finish in the 1997 meeting with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
The Dawgs came into their annual showdown with Tech ranked #14 in the country as they held a 8-2 record under second year head coach Jim Donnan as Georgia was looking to complete its best season in five years.
With an offense featuring Bobo, Allen, running back Robert Edwards and future Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, the Dawgs were on the doorstep of playing in a New Year’s Day bowl game if they could beat their intrastate rivals for the seventh year in a row.
The Yellow Jackets came into the game as underdogs with a 6-4 record under head coach George O’ Leary who was in his third full season as the Tech head coach after taking over for Bill Lewis midway through the 1994 season where the Ramblin Wreck finished with a 1-10 record.
O’Leary was rebuilding the Yellow Jackets back into a formidable foe in the ACC thanks in large part to sophomore quarterback Joe Hamilton, who had thrown for 2,038 yards and ran for 423 yards up to this part in the season as Tech was not only hoping to beat Georgia for the first time since 1990 but also be invited to play in a bowl game for the first time since 1991.
The Dawgs got the ball to start the game as they ran the ball twice to pick up 26 yards and a 1st down at their 46-yard-line when Bobo threw his first pass of the game, a short pass for Ward near the left sideline.
Ward would make the catch and then outrun the Tech defense for a 54-yard touchdown to give Georgia a 7-0 lead just 78 seconds into the game.
After a three-and-out by the Yellow Jackets, the Dawgs would get the ball at their 35-yard-line as they would drive to the Tech 29-yard-line until they were faced with a 4th & 1 when Donnan decided to go for the 1st down.
The gamble would not pay off as Edwards was stopped for no gain to give the ball to the Yellow Jackets, who took over at their 29-yard-line and drove to the Georgia one-yard-line, primarily on the ground game as five straight running plays picked up 43 yards.
However, the drive would not result in any points as Hamilton fumbled the snap from center on a 2nd & goal, leading to a recovery by Georgia linebacker Greg Bright to give the Dawgs the ball at their one-yard-line.
Georgia would run the ball four straight times to move to their 12-yard line when they decided to put the ball back in the air only to have Yellow Jackets defensive end Jesse Tarplin intercept Bobo’s pass at the line of scrimmage to give Tech the ball at the Dawgs’ six-yard-line.
Hamliton would then run a quarterback draw for the six-yard touchdown that with the extra point tied the game at seven with 1:43 left in the first quarter.
After both teams traded punts on their ensuing possessions, the Dawgs got the ball at their 26-yard-line as Bobo would complete five of his next six passes for 49 yards to lead Georgia to the Yellow Jackets’ 15-yard-line red zone until he was picked off by Tech strong safety Tavares Tillman to give the Ramblin Wreck the ball at their four-yard-line.
A 54-yard pass from Hamilton to Harvey Middleton help move the Yellow Jackets to the Georgia 28-yard-line when David Frakes come on to attempt a 45-yard field goal, which fell short of the uprights to give the ball back to the Dawgs with 2:18 left in the second quarter
Georgia’s ensuing possession would begin with Bobo hitting Allen on a slant pass for 13 yards and a 1st down at their 41-yard-line when the Dawgs decided to run the same play as Bobo connected with Allen again, who turned it upfield for a 59-yard touchdown to give Georgia a 14-7 lead with 1:47 left in the first half.
The Yellow Jackets would start their ensuing possession at their 35-yard-line as Hamilton would complete five consecutive passes for 61 yards to put Tech at the Georgia four-yard-line where they had a 1st & goal situation.
However, Hamilton would throw three straight incompletions, forcing the Yellow Jackets to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Frakes which cut the Georgia lead to 14-10 with 43 seconds left before halftime.
That gave the Dawgs enough time to try and drive into field goal range as Ward ran for 21 yards to start the drive, then caught a 22-yard pass from Bobo to help put Georgia at the Yellow Jackets’ 18-yard-line to give Dax Langley a chance at a 35-yard field goal.
But the kick would be blocked to keep the score 14-10 in favor of the Bulldogs as the first half came to an end.
After the Yellow Jackets punted on their opening possession of the second half, the Dawgs got the ball at their 26-yard-line as they would drive down the field behind Bobo’s right arm he would complete six of his next seven passes for 72 yards to put Georgia at the Yellow Jackets’ eight-yard-line where they had a 1st & goal situation.
Three straight runs by Edwards for seven yards put Georgia at the Tech one-yard-line facing a 4th & 1 when Donnan decided to go for the touchdown as Bobo found Ward in the right corner of the end zone for the one-yard touchdown to increase Georgia’s lead to 21-10 with 4:51 left in the third quarter.
Tech would then drive 68 yards in 10 plays as Frakes would come to kick a 23-yard field goal to cut the Georgia lead to 21-13 with 22 seconds to go in the third quarter.
The Dawgs would begin their next possession at their 35-yard-line as Edwards was dropped for a three-yard loss on 1st down, which was followed by two passes for 12 yards to set up 4th & inches when Donnan again decided to go for it as Bobo tried to sneak ahead only to be stopped for no gain to give the ball to Tech right there.
A 16-yard pass from Hamilton to Middelton would set up another field goal by Frakes, this one from 45 yards out which barely cleared up the goal posts to trim the Yellow Jackets’ deficit to five points at 21-16 with 12:29 left in the fourth quarter.
The two teams would then trade punts for most of the fourth quarter until the Yellow Jackets got the ball at the Georgia 48-yard-line with 2:16 left and needing a touchdown to take the lead.
Hamilton would complete a 15-yard pass to Middleton to start the drive, then would avoid a quarterback sack to fire a 21-yard pass to fullback Ed Wilder to give Tech a 1st down at the Georgia 12-yard-line.
Two runs by Hamilton for five yards set up 3rd & 5 when Hamilton handed the ball off to Wilder, who picked up four yards to set up a do or die 4th & 1 at the Georgia three-yard line.
That is when Hamilton handed it off to tailback Charles Wiley, who took up the gut for the three-yard touchdown to give Tech a 22-21 lead as the Yellow Jackets would go for two which they got when Hamilton found Mike Sheridan in the end zone to make it 24-21 with 48 seconds to go.
It looked like it was going to take a miracle for the Dawgs to extend their winning streak over Tech until they were given great field position after the kickoff went out of bounds which allowed Georgia to start its ensuing possession at their 35-yard-line.
With just 48 seconds and two timeouts, Donnan decided to insert cornerback Champ Bailey as a wide receiver in hopes the sophomore could turn a short pass into a big gain.
That is exact;y what happened as Bobo hit Bailey on a slant pattern as the sophomore made the catch and outran several Tech defenders until he stepped out of bounds at the Yellow Jackets’ 37-yard-line after a 28-yard reception.
Bobo would go back to Bailey on the next play, which this time only went for seven yards, before hitting Edwards on a nine-yard screen pass as the running back dove out of bounds at the Yellow Jackets’ 21-yard-line.
But on the very next play, it appeared that Tech was going end the drought as Tillman intercepted Bobo’s pass intended for Ward, only to have it wiped out as free safety Brian Wilkins was called for pass interference as he grabbed Ward’s jersey while the ball was in the air.
This gave the Dawgs a reprieve as they would get a 1st & goal at the Tech eight-yard-line with 14 seconds to go when Bobo lofted a pass for Allen in the left corner of the end zone.
With a step ahead of his defender, Allen caught the ball and got one foot inbounds to complete the eight-yard touchdown and send Georgia players and fans into a frenzy as the Dawgs took a 27-24 lead with eight seconds to play.
The Yellow Jackets would get one last shot at winning the game but Hamilton’s Hail Mary pass would fell well short of the goal line and incomplete as the Dawgs would come away with the 27-24 win, thanks to Bobo’s 30-of-39 for 415 yards and four touchdown performance.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Yellow Jackets would be invited to play in a bowl as they traveled to Miami to take on West Virginia in the Carquest Bowl, which Tech won 35-30 as they finished the season with a 7-5 record and #25 in the final AP poll.
As for the Bulldogs, they would get a chance to play on New Year’s Day as they traveled to Tampa Bay to play in the Outback Bowl where they would face the Wisconsin Badgers as Bobo would completed 26 of 28 passes for 267 yards and one touchdown as the Dawgs won the game 33-6 to finish with a 10-2 record and #10 ranking in both the AP and coaches polls.