Top 10 plays of 2002
Michael Johnson is #1
Michael Johnson is #1

Posted Dec 4, 2002


ATHENS, Ga. - As with compiling any subjective top 10 list, the task of naming the 10 biggest plays in Georgia's 11-1 regular season is difficult. Even naming the No. 1 play invites debate.

Perhaps Michael Johnson's game-winning catch against Auburn would appear to be a slam-dunk at No. 1. In addition to the athletic skills needed by Johnson to catch the ball over a defensive back, and in addition to the fact the play came on a fourth-and-15 from the Auburn 19 in the final two minutes, the play clinched the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title.

But for sheer athleticism, David Pollack's interception for a touchdown at South Carolina is difficult to top. The common response after the South Carolina game was that no one had ever seen a play to compare with what at first looked like a possible sack and fumble recovery. Because South Carolina quarterback Corey Jenkins' arm was moving forward when he was stripped of the ball by Pollack in the end zone, the call was an interception for a touchdown.

If the situation in the game is not factored in, then the catch of the year has to go to Terrence Edwards for his acrobatic grab against Georgia Tech last week. Georgia already led 17-0 when Edwards prevented an interception on an underthrown ball by quarterback David Greene by sticking his arm in front of Tech safety Jeremy Muyres to deflect the ball. As he was falling, Edwards caught the deflection for a 31-yard gain. Adding to the significance of the catch was the fact Edwards was returning from a separated shoulder injury and had been the topic of a wave of support from Georgia fans after his key drop in the loss to Florida.

Arguments could be made for other big plays, but here is one top 10 list:

1. Johnson's catch; Nov. 16; at Auburn. Georgia trailed Auburn the whole game before Johnson, starting for the injured Edwards, jumped over defensive back Horace Willis to catch a 19-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-down play with 1:25 left in the game. The catch gave Georgia a 24-21 win, the SEC East division title, and Johnson earned SEC Player of the Week honors.

2. Pollack's interception for a touchdown; Sept. 14; at South Carolina. Pollack scored Georgia's only touchdown in a 13-7 win when, pass-rushing from his defensive end position, he stripped the ball from Jenkins as the South Carolina quarterback was attempting to pass out of the end zone. Pollack grabbed the ball and fell in the end zone as the official signaled the Georgia touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

3. Georgia's fourth-down stop against Gamecocks; Sept. 14; at South Carolina. With 20 seconds left, South Carolina had a fourth-and-1 play from the Georgia 2 when Jenkins was hit by Pollack as the quarterback was pitching the ball to Andrew Pinnock, who fumbled. Georgia's Thomas Davis recovered at the 2 to preserve the win.

4. Fourth-and-1 gamble; Aug. 31; vs. Clemson. With 40 seconds left, Coach Mark Richt gambled by going for the first down on a fourth-and-1 call from the Georgia 39 instead of punting to Clemson. Musa Smith picked up the yard to clinch the 31-28 win.

5. Fourth-and-2 gamble; Oct. 12; vs. Tennessee. With 1:43 left and Georgia leading 18-13, Richt faced another tough call on a fourth-and-2 at the Tennessee 35. Instead of punt, Richt called for a toss sweep, and Tony Milton picked up 25 yards to the 10, and from there Georgia ran out the clock.

6. Edwards drops the ball; Nov. 2; vs. Florida in Jacksonville. With about two minutes left to play, Edwards was wide open when he dropped a pass near the Florida 35. A favored Georgia team lost 20-13, as it was 0-for-13 on third-down conversions.

7. Musa Smith keeps drive alive; Nov. 9; vs. Mississippi. Making an impressive offensive statement, Georgia held the ball the final 10:46 in a 31-17 win over Ole Miss. Along the way, Smith gained six yards on a fourth-and-4 run from the Ole Miss 33 and ran for two yards on a fourth-and-1 from the Rebels' 5. Smith had 37 carries for 148 yards, including 12 carries in the game-ending, 19-play drive.

8. Billy Bennett kicks game-winner; Oct. 5; at Alabama. While Georgia proved it was "man enough'' by winning the battles at the line of scrimmage, it was a 32-yard field goal by Bennett with 38 seconds left to play that gave the Bulldogs the 27-25 win - Georgia's first in Tuscaloosa.

9. Edwards makes acrobatic catch; Nov. 30; vs. Georgia Tech. Returning from a separated shoulder, Edwards prevented an interception by Muyres on an underthrown pass when he deflected the ball and then caught the deflection for a gain of 31 yards. The second-quarter catch allowed Georgia to retain the momentum in the 51-7 win.

10. Fred Gibson sets the tone; Aug. 31; vs. Clemson. The first time he touched the ball this season, Gibson returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. It was the first touchdown return on a kickoff for Georgia since 1990.

Other players worthy of honorable mention: Tim Jennings' 44-yard interception return for a touchdown against Ole Miss; Sean Jones' two interceptions returned for 58 yards and one fumble returned for 11 yards - all in the first quarter at Auburn; and Boss Bailey's blocked field goals against Tennessee, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech.

---------------

ESPN Included With Total Access Pass

SEATTLE - Just in time for the holidays, TheInsiders.com is offering the biggest bundle in its history of online and print subscriptions.

While supplies last, a year subscription (26 issues) to ESPN The Magazine is included with an annual subscription to Total Access Pass. Subscribers to college team, recruiting, expert and high school sites also receive a free subscription to TheInsiders.com's already popular Recruiting Yearbook.

The Total Access Pass, available for $79.95 per year, offers users access to more than ever before:

  • Members-only message boards on your favorite site.
  • All content on TheInsiders.com network – that means every College, NFL, High School and Expert site.
  • All recruiting and expert content on TheInsiders.com network.
  • The Scoutâ„¢ Player and Roster Database.
  • Player Pages, detailing the recruitment and careers of players from high school, college and the pro ranks.


  • Already a hit with TheInsiders.com members, the Recruiting Yearbook spotlights the work of the top recruiting scouts in the country, all of whom offer minute-by-minute, commitment-by-commitment online coverage for TheInsiders.com. From Jamie Newberg's national perspective, to Scott Kennedy in the southeast, David Garvin in the south, Mike Bakas in the Atlantic east, Steve Curry in Pennsylvania, Duane Long in Ohio, Chris Pool in the midwest, Chris Fetters in the northwest, Greg Biggins and Student Sports in the west, and Max Emfinger offering more national perspective, TheInsiders.com offers the best zone and man-to-man coverage of the country's top football prospects. What's more, the incomparable Dave Telep and West Coast guru Tracy Pierson serve up the best dishes on basketball recruiting.

    A free subscription to the Recruiting Yearbook, which includes the pre-season issue and post-signing-day wrapup edition, is a benefit to annual Total Access Pass holders who subscribe to their favorite college, recruiting, expert or high school sites.

    If you have more specific questions, hit The Porch, the biggest and best Dawg only community on the internet. Atlanta based recruiting analysts Scott Kennedy and Jamie Newberg are available to answer your questions literally around the clock. With Scott and Jamie around, EVERY Day is Georgia Recruiting Notebook Day on The Porch!

    No one in the business knows Georgia High School football recruits better than Scott and Jamie, and they bring the information, pictures, and videos right to your desktop on a daily basis.

    If you're interested, give us a try for 5 days with no cost to you, we're confident you won't be disappointed.

    SPECIAL OFFER! (click here for details)

    Free Recruiting Yearbook with Total Access Pass!

    • Exclusive Insider Stories by DawgPost.com
    • DawgPost.com Members-Only Message Boards
    • Total Access to all Expert and Recruiting Content
    • Total Access to Scout Player/Roster Database
    • Total Access to all TheInsiders.com Network Content
    • FREE Football and Basketball Recruiting Yearbook (3 Month or more purchase)

      Click Here to Subscribe


    Related Stories
    Football Notebook:
     -by DawgPost.com  Dec 4, 2002
    Walker relishing fatherhood, Bulldogs' season
     -by DawgPost.com  Dec 5, 2002
    Georgia has top receivers ready for Arkansas
     -by DawgPost.com  Dec 5, 2002

    MAGAZINE COVERAGE
    Get the 2014 Recruiting Yearbook and a full year of DawgPost Magazine with an Annual Total Access Pass.
    Sign Up Today!

    Upgrade Now!
    Free Email Newsletter
    Don't miss any news or features from DawgPost.com. Subscribe to our newsletter to have our newest articles emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis.
    Click here for a list of all Team Newsletters.

    Add Players to My HotList
    Get free email alerts with news about your favorite players. Click name to add to My HotList.
    K Billy Bennett (profile)
    FS Thomas Davis (profile)
    FL Terrence Edwards (profile)
    SE Fred Gibson (profile)
    QB David Greene (profile)
    FB Andrew Pinnock (profile)
    DE David Pollack (profile)
    RB Musa Smith (profile)
    CB Horace Willis (profile)
    [View My HotList]