AP Photo/appeared in Florida Times Union
Think about the rivalry between Florida and Georgia during the early-1980s and the moment that comes to mind is Lindsay Scott’s improbable game-winning touchdown for the Bulldogs in 1980. That however, wasn’t the only time that Georgia broke the Gators’ heart.
It also happened the next year and on this day 40 years ago. Herschel Walker’s fourth touchdown of the day capped a 95-yard drive to lift the Bulldogs to a thrilling 26-21 victory.
Setting the Stage
Georgia had won three straight over Florida as it arrived in Jacksonville on Nov. 7, 1981. The fourth-ranked Bulldogs had won four straight and were in line for a second straight SEC championship.
Florida was 5-3 and coming off a hard-fought 14-12 loss to Auburn. Against the reigning national champions, the Gators led early and then again late.
Walker Scores the Winner
Florida raced to a 14-0 lead, but the next 20 points belonged to Georgia. Walker rushed for a touchdown and was on the receiving end of two touchdown tosses from quarterback Buck Belue.
Early in the fourth, Florida regained the lead when Wayne Peace found Spencer Jackson. Trailing 21-20, Georgia had a tough time handling the ensuing kickoff and started the drive at its own 5-yard-line.
Walker would be the workhorse on the march, carrying 11 times for 65 yards. Belue and Scott also connected on a big completion.
On 3rd-and-goal from the Florida 1-yard-line, Walker went over the top to put Georgia ahead for good. Florida would get two more possessions, but the first ended on a fumble. On the second, time expired.
With the loss, Florida fell to 5-4, but bounced back with wins over Kentucky and Florida State to close the regular season. The Gators finished 7-5 after a Peach Bowl loss to West Virginia.
Georgia would win its final two games to finish undefeated in SEC play. The Bulldogs shared the conference title with Alabama.
Georgia would ascend to No. 2 and entered the Sugar Bowl with hopes of repeating as national championship, but lost to Pittsburgh, 24-20. What the Bulldogs were able to claim was a second straight SEC title. It wouldn’t have been possible without the comeback win over Florida that came on this day four decades ago.