Another Georgia-Florida has arrived and like some many times before the stakes couldn’t be bigger. The victor all but stamps their ticket to the SEC Championship Game, while the loser will be forced to face the reality that the dream of the 2020 season being special was false.
For Georgia fans everywhere, this installment of Georgia-Florida will also be extra special as it marks the 40th anniversary of the greatest play in Georgia football history.
Belue to Scott!
I was eight in 1980 and became hooked on that Georgia team like so many others when Herschel broke onto the college football scene with his debut in Knoxville for the opening game. And then those Dawgs just kept winning and winning.
On November 8, 1980, despite Herschel running all over the Gator Bowl field, Florida took the lead late in the fourth quarter and the magical run appeared over. I was watching the game in our den with my brother and sister, but left them so they wouldn’t make fun of me for crying. With tears coming down my face, I went back to my parents’ room to change the luck.
And then it happened … Belue to Scott.
I quickly ran towards my also screaming siblings as we met in the middle of the house in the greatest celebration ever. Somehow, some way the Dawgs had won … Georgia 26, Florida 21.
While a 40th anniversary certainly reminds us all of how quickly time goes by, celebrating something so special is nonetheless a must.
When I was pondering cover ideas for this issue the fact that Buck Belue (Valdosta native) and Lindsay Scott (Jesup native) are south Georgia boys like me made that appealing. And with Stetson Bennett, hailing from Pierce County and Richard LeCounte from Liberty County things came together nicely for a fun cover blending the historic game of yesteryear with today’s 2020 team.
40 Years Later … Georgia-Florida still comes through the 912.
Unfortunately, as I was processing photos late Saturday night after Georgia’s 14-3 victory over Kentucky, my phone alerted me of the motor-vehicle accident involving Richard LeCounte in Athens. Thankfully it appears #2 will have a full recovery, but the injuries certainly sound severe enough that him playing anytime soon is unlikely. Everyone here at Bulldawg Illustrated certainly sends our best to both him and his family during the healing days ahead.
At first early this Sunday morning, I was contemplating whether or not to keep LeCounte on the cover. Thankfully a smart friend encouraged me to keep him there as a way to show the love that everyone in Bulldog Nation has for the young man. LeCounte certainly has been a force at the safety position for all four years he has been at Georgia, which makes the accident even more painful. Nonetheless, his teammates must forge ahead and they certainly will have their hands full with Florida’s high-octane offense.
For our Bulldogs to Watch (pages 12, 13), you will find nothing but fellow 912ers to LeCounte. Yes, it’s been up and down for Stetson Bennett, but I made a prediction this summer that he would be the starter for the Georgia-Florida game, so I’m certainly not abandoning him now. The fact he has five games under his belt only makes me feel better about him having a memorable game in Jacksonville.
I feel the same about all the other Bulldogs to Watch we feature in this issue. Make me proud south Georgia boys. There’s no better time to shine than in your own backyard, which would also make me a south Georgia sage if it happens.
Getting back to the specialness of this issue, I encourage you to read both Jeff Dantzler (page 8) and Loran Smith’s (page 47) column. Loran hits on Belue to Scott in a very unique way. Rather than the quarterback/receiver angle of the famous play, he reminds our readers of the all important block by Nat Hudson which gave Buck enough time to get the pass off to Lindsay. Like me, eight-year-old Jeff Dantzler was in tears, when it happened. Without a doubt, Larry Munson’s call that afternoon on the banks of the St. John’s River certainly had a ton to do with JD honing in on his desire to be in sports broadcasting.
On pages 42 and 43, don’t miss our special Belue to Scott feature. I asked several of BI’s longtime sponsors to share their recollections of Belue to Scott. Each of the responses are classic. One of my favorites is Athenian David Dukes admitting that he actually missed the play on TV because he was so mad that he thought the Dogs were going to lose. His competitive spirit was very much prevalent even at 15. Also, I had the lucky fortune of running into Lindsay Scott at Brogen’s on St. Simons this past Saturday. Like me, he was there watching the Kentucky game. Number 24 was nice enough to let me interview him about the play. A few of his comments are on pages 42 and 43, but I certainly encourage you to check out the entire interview at bulldawgillustrated.com. Thanks so much Lindsay. What a treat.
I’ve quickly run out of time and space, but I must mention all the fan photos (starting on page 28) in this issue. They represent a complete team effort. My friends the Butlers and Carmonys were nice enough to capture photos in Lexington. And they did a terrific job. You will also find over two dozen photos that our readers have submitted this season. Thanks so much for being BI contributors. Finally, Mark Richt and Mohamed Massaquoi were the featured speakers at the most recent Touchdown Club of Athens event. It was so nice to see Coach Richt so relaxed and MoMass’ message was so uplifting. A couple of damn, good Dawgs for sure.
Finally and certainly not least are Hamilton Culpepper and my bride, Cheri’s contributions to this issue. Hammy catches up with Shaun Chapas on page 53. And Cheri has unique commerce pages about both the Golden Isles and Athens (pages 26 and 27). And don’t miss our Georgia Girls feature with Brooke Bradshaw Henze of Highlands, North Carolina. You have to love a girl who admits going to Bourbon Street bar while she was a student in Athens. And even better, she gives a nod to the famous feta fries at The Grill.
Now it’s time to say good-bye, but I hope to see a bunch of you later this week in the Golden Isles. It doesn’t get any better than Georgia-Florida in the 912. Then head to Jacksonville on Saturday for what will hopefully be another long day for Dan Mullen and his Darth Gators. Go Dawgs!!