Bulldog wide receiver Reggie Brown lay motionless on the Jordan-Hare turf for several moments midway through the third quarter after a hit by Junior Rosegreen.
“The devastating loss would have been if Reggie had gotten hurt really bad,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “That’s the way I look at life.”
Brown was unconscious for several moments but walked off the field under his own power and suffered only a concussion. Team doctors took an X-ray of his neck but there were no breaks, said Ron Courson, Georgia’s director of sports medicine.
“He’s really fine, but it was scary for sure,” Richt said.
Brown fumbled on the play, giving Auburn the ball on its 16-yard line, but no one was thinking about that for several minutes. Both teams prayed on the sideline while Brown lay on the field. After Georgia fans in the far corner of the stadium began chanting, “Reggie, Reggie,” the Auburn fans took up the chant.
Many Auburn fans started the chant again once Brown sat up. Brown could have gotten up sooner but the medical staff was being very careful, Richt said.
“Pretty early on, he wanted to get up,” Richt said.
Television replays showed that Rosegreen’s helmet collided viciously with the side of Brown’s head as Brown was stretched out after catching the pass. When he was asked if it was a clean hit, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said he hadn’t seen the replay.
“We teach them not to tackle with their helmets,” he said. “The collision was unbelievable. When you run crossing routes, those things happen.”
No one in Georgia’s locker room objected to the hit after the game. Rosegreen said he felt like he didn’t do anything wrong.
“I was glad that he got up. That’s the game of football, though,” he said. “I was going full speed, and I was just trying to knock the ball loss. If their safeties had had a shot on our receivers, they would have taken them. When I hit him, it just felt like a rush went through my body. I just felt power when I hit him.
“After I hit him, it took the fight out of them. Their whole team was stunned.”
Rosegreen was called for a personal foul earlier on the drive for shoving Fred Gibson in the back out of bounds.
In order for Rosegreen to draw any penalty for the hit, the SEC office would have to review the tape and determine it was a deliberate act with intent to harm, said Bobby Gaston, the league’s director of officials. Gaston, who was at Saturday’s game but didn’t see a replay of the hit, said that’s a very hard standard to prove.
“We would have to see he deliberately led with his head with the intent to punish,” Gaston said. “It’d be awful difficult to say.”
If a player was deemed to have deliberately led with his helmet, he would receive a reprimand for the first offense, Gaston said. A second offense would lead to suspension for the remainder of the season.