Giving the ball to your 340-pound nose tackle on offense certainly is not a conventional football play. It also was not a conventional matchup with the No. 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs facing FCS Charleston Southern (4-6) on Saturday, either.
Georgia followed up its Senior Day festivities before the game with plenty of dominance on the field too. This year 30 seniors walked on the field to be recognized. However, all but three can make a decision to return because last year the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to all that had to play during the COVID season.
It all started with a 1-yard touchdown run from fan-favorite Jordan Davis. The touchdown had everyone on Georgia’s sideline rushing to see the play, setting the tone for the entire day.
Bennett lined up in a traditional I-formation before sending Davis to line up behind him. To the likeness of the crowd, everyone in the stadium knew where the ball was going. It took two tries to get in but the senior from Charlotte, N.C,. will be able to say he scored a touchdown on his Senior Day.
“To be honest, I didn’t think we’d get a chance,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. “It was almost fate that he got the opportunity because we weren’t gonna do it out in the middle of the field. The opportunity arose and those offensive coaches wanted to do it and I thought it was a great idea. I thought he handled it well.”
Davis also loved the moment and had been “begging” to get the ball on the goalline packages that he and fellow defensive lineman Jalen Carter have infrequently appeared on this season.
“I felt like it was just a way to honor me and end off with a bang,” said Davis. “I’m glad that coach Smart and coach [Todd] Monken drew it up and came to me with it. I was excited. And just knowing that the team was behind me and the team was excited… it means that it’s not just me, it’s about everybody else. It’s a cool experience and I’m glad I did it at home.”
Georgia rolled from there. The Bulldogs defense overwhelmed Charleston Southern’s offensive line and was seemingly chasing Buccaneers quarterback Jack Chambers on every play.
After a quarter, it was already 28-0 in favor of the Dawgs. Both senior running backs Zamir White and James Cook rushed for over 50 yards and scored touchdowns. Stetson Bennett also threw two touchdowns in what could be his last game at Sanford Stadium.
The flip side of a fun game like this is that it can only last so long. The biggest priority for Georgia, besides winning of course, is to come out of this matchup healthy. The Bulldogs will next face rival Georgia Tech, which is always a scrappy game, before their much anticipated matchup with No. 2 Alabama in the SEC Championship.
Games like this give a great opportunity for in-game reps to younger players and reserves who do not often see the field. From walk-on’s to four and five-star freshman, Georgia got the opportunity to play a lot of guys in Saturday’s game.
“For me, it was mainly about the walk-on guys who go out there, put there body on the line and do everything that the entire team does,” said quaterback Stetson Bennett. “They get beat up on scout team but they’re there whenever we have a 5:30 a.m. run. They do everything that we do. To let them go out there and have success in front of 90,000 people, and live out a dream, that’s the coolest part of games like today.”
The Bulldog seniors were not ready for their shine to be over just yet. After the clock reached triple-zero’s, all of the Georgia players made their way over to the band/student section area to celebrate one more time with their classmates.
Once again though, Davis stole the show by climbing up the band latter to salute the band and even conduct them in the playing of “Glory.” Cook said the moment was not planned but it contributed to a day that he will never forget.
What was Cook’s favorite moment at Sanford Stadium in his four years?
“Today, my last game here, just knowing that I wouldn’t play in Sanford anymore… that was just special.”