No. 14 Georgia 24, Mississippi 17
Nov. 21, 1998
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) _ No. 14 Georgia took its bend-but-don't break defense to the extreme Saturday.
The Bulldogs stopped Mississippi twice at the 1-yard line and had an interception at the 2, holding on for a 24-17 victory that kept alive their hopes of another 10-win season.
Olandis Gary, running behind a battered offensive line, still had 132 yards and two touchdowns for Georgia (8-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference).
``You've got to bow your back, play a little bit harder when a team gets down that close,'' safety Kirby Smart said. ``That's what we did today.''
The Rebels (6-4, 3-4) failed for the second week in a row to score from the 1. The previous week, Deuce McAllister fumbled against Arkansas while trying to stretch over the goal line, and Ole Miss went on to a 34-0 loss.
``It's been the same story all season for us ... getting down to the 1-yard line and not scoring,'' tight end Rufus French said. ``It brings back a lot of bad memories _ Alabama, Arkansas, you name it _ having the chance to score and not scoring. I'm not sure if it's because we are a young team or what.''
Ole Miss still made it close after blocking a punt and finally converting a critical fourth-down play. Romaro Miller threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Rufus French that deflected off teammate L.J. Taylor with 4:20 remaining.
But Georgia managed to run out most of the clock, the key play coming when Quincy Carter connected with Michael Greer on a 29-yard pass.
``I know you can dissect this game and find a lot of things wrong, but we did a lot of things right, too,'' coach Jim Donnan said. ``I guess I should be a little more disappointed, but I'm real happy with this victory.''
The Bulldogs won even with a makeshift offensive line that included a third-string center.
Left tackle Matt Stinchcomb, a Lombardi Award finalist, missed the game because of a separated shoulder, then Georgia lost two more lineman during the game: center Miles Luckie (sprained knee) and right tackle Kelvin Williams (sprained ankle).
``We were playing musical chairs on the offensive line,'' said third-stringer Brady Pate, who filled in for Luckie at center while Jonas Jennings was forced to move from guard to tackle when Williams went out.
Gary, who had 130 yards the previous week for the first 100-yard game by a Georgia back this season, made it two in a row. He scored on a 28-yard run in the first period, then gave the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead by scoring from the 4 early in the second.
``We've been running the ball more,'' Gary said. ``Earlier, we had five running backs with eight to 10 carries each. No one was able to establish a rhythm. Now I'm getting a chance to establish my rhythm more.''
Carter scored Georgia's other TD on a 6-yard run, while Hap Hines connected on an 18-yard field goal as the Bulldogs built a 24-10 halftime lead. Then they held on for dear life, managing only 93 yards over the final two periods.
Miller completed 19 of 35 passes for 266 yards, also connecting with Grant Heart on a 17-yard touchdown pass. But the Rebels had to be kicking themselves for all the points they didn't score.
On the opening possession, Ole Miss drove 82 yards to the Georgia 1. But McAllister was stopped for a short loss and Miller overthrew a pass in the end zone before McAllister was dragged down on fourth down by Orantes Grant.
After Ronnie Bradley fumbled on Georgia's first play of the second half, Ole Miss had a chance to cut into the 14-point deficit. But the drive stalled at the Bulldogs 20 and Carlisle McGee's 38-yard field goal was wide right.
Later in the third, Ole Miss had first down at the Georgia 13. But Miller was sacked for a 13-yard loss by Antonio Cochrane and wound up throwing a third-down pass into double coverage. It was picked off by Larry Mann at the 2.
On the second play of the fourth quarter, Miller threw a 45-yard pass to Taylor and Ole Miss wound up with third-and-goal at the 1. But Grant dragged down McAllister for a 4-yard loss and Miller threw incomplete on fourth down.
McAllister rushed for 109 yards on 22 carries, but couldn't get two yards he needed most.
``If you look back on it, I should have kicked field goals,'' coach Tommy Tuberville said. ``I didn't know we were going to get down there so many times.''