This column is about several firsts. Then, to some extent, it’s about some lasts. Regardless, it’s about an exciting time, about as exciting as it can be over a ballgame, a college football game, over 50 years ago. In fact, a football game that some “old-timers” can still tell you about, describing plays in great detail, and knowing, and telling, how it ended.
Not just the teams, the coaches, the winner, the score (remembrance of which is remarkable as it happened in the fall of 1965). But, also what plays were run and the three players by name who were involved, and the controversy about one touchdown play, and that Georgia then went for two, and made it, and won by one point, and who by names threw and caught the pass that was flipped to the running back and who the runner was and who threw and caught the “two point ball.”
Kirby Moore caused all of this. He caused me to write about it. No, he didn’t ask me to, he didn’t expect me to, and I never dreamed that this would be my column for Sunday, March 19 which I wrote on March 14. But here it is.
Kirby, a very good lawyer, says he worked for me at my law office “when you were running for the Legislature.” I assume he meant the first time, 1972, as it would be 24 years, 1996, before I had another contested race.
I don’t remember too much about it, Kirby working for me, but I do remember Kirby with great affection. I hope to “re-nurture” our friendship in the time I have left here. I will.
David Walker, my brother and law partner from Perry, was there, at the game that is. Kirby Moore from Dothan, Alabama, a UGA Bulldog quarterback, was there.
David took it all in. I was amazed, but not surprised, at David’s recollections of that day. He helped tell it. Then we looked it up, and David was right.
It was David’s first football game as a UGA student. Kirby, number 13, quarterback, had been at Georgia two years, but this was the first game in which he played. He started as Georgia’s quarterback after playing on the freshman team his first year (freshmen couldn’t play on the varsity back then), and Kirby was “red-shirted” his second.
It was Georgia’s first game of the year and against Alabama, coached by Bear Bryant. Georgia was behind 17 to 10 with just a little over two minutes to go. Then, the play!
Time out, Georgia. Coach Vince Dooley, in his second year as Georgia’s coach, calls for the flea flicker (now called pass and lateral) which Dooley later described as “an old play we used as youngsters when we played on the streets in Mobile,” and a play Kirby characterized as one that “never worked in practice.”
Moore back to pass, he’s rushed by a big Alabama lineman, but gets it off to Pat Hodgson, who, while going down, flips it back to Bob Taylor who rumbles into the end zone. Georgia 16, Alabama 17. The Georgia student body goes wild, chanting “two,” “two,” “two.” Coach Dooley signals “two.”
Moore tells Hodgson in the huddle, “get open and I’ll throw it to you,” even though the play, as designed, has Hodgson as the third choice.
Moore back to pass, again, and to Hodgson, again, this time for two. Sanford Stadium and 90 percent of the people in it go crazy. Georgia and much of the nation go wild as this is the only football game televised in the nation that day. Georgia 18, Alabama 17.
Can you believe that only one football game was being televised in the United States on this date in 1965? That’s what Kirby told me and I think he is right.
You probably didn’t know this: Young Kirby Moore was the National Back of the Week for this game; Alabama went on, after its loss to Georgia, to win the National Championship; and, the flea flicker play was analyzed as filmed, over and over, and many (especially Alabama fans) say Hodgson’s knee was down when he lateraled the ball to Bob Taylor.
This is one Dawg who is glad we didn’t have instant replay back then. And, this is one Dawg who hopes he lives long enough to see Georgia beat Alabama again, and I think I will.
Thanks Kirby and David for starting my last week off right good. You are two good Dawgs!
Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly and presently serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.