Saves his best for Auburn

AP Photo/John Bazemore

ATHENS - No one knows why Michael Johnson always seems to save his best game of the year against Auburn. He just does.

It's a mystery.

"I don't know," said Georgia coach Mark Richt when asked the question. "Michael's a physical receiver. He handles their coverage very well. I'm glad Michael is showing up against Auburn. We've needed him every time." Michael Johnson made his mark last year against the Tigers when he caught David Greene's game-winning touchdown pass in the game's closing moments to give the Bulldogs a victory.

In that game, Johnson had career-highs of 13 catches for 141 yards after coming into the contest with 11 catches for 130 for the season to that point.

Saturday's contest was no different. Johnson has been inconsistent this season, missing time with injuries. He entered the game with 16 catches for 186 yards and a touchdown.

But Johnson found the magic once again against the Tigers, leading Georgia with five catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. Johnson also provided the offensive highlight of the game, taking the ball off a reverse and throwing a 40-yard pass to Fred Gibson that gave the Bulldogs a first down at the Auburn 19.

"I saw Fred and just threw it up and let him make that play," said the senior from Tulsa, Okla. "I had the easy part."

The ball floated with a wobbly spiral and Gibson was able to time his leap to make a one-handed grab with a defensive back tangled up with him.

"He looked good, didn't he?" Greene said of Johnson. "He throws a great spiral."

Greene then pointed to Gibson, who was sitting next to him.

"This guy, he made a great play," Greene said. "He had one arm wrapped up and he made a great catch."

Gibson, who also plays on Georgia's basketball team, had a good laugh when asked about the play.

"I knew the ball was going to be up there forever, because he was throwing it," Gibson said. "I used my basketball technique and blocked (the defender) out."

According to Richt, it's a play that Georgia has been practicing for several weeks with both Johnson and wide receiver Reggie Brown.

"It was set so that Reggie Brown would throw it if it was on the left hashmark, and Michael would throw it if it was on the right. ... Michael's been lobbying it for a long time."

That play set up Johnson's own touchdown 19-yard touchdown catch two plays later when Greene found him in the left corner of the end zone on a play that was remarkably similar to last year's game-winner against Auburn.

In fact, the play - called 'Colt Takeoff' - is similar to last year's play, except Greene was working from under center and didn't pump-fake before throwing it to Johnson."

"It felt great," Johnson said. "It felt the same for me (as the one last year)."

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