The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry has its name for a reason. The Georgia Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers have been going at it for decades and there always seems to be fireworks when they meet. The 2002 showdown at Jordan-Hare Stadium was no different.
With a road win on that November 16 night, head coach Mark Richt and the Bulldogs would win the SEC East title. They wanted it bad. Having a spot in the SEC Championship Game was important. And that’s exactly what happened.
Although it wasn’t pretty, by any means, quarterback David Greene’s 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Johnson sealed the deal.
Michael Johnson’s Jump Ball TD vs. Auburn
Georgia trailed the entire night. Auburn, which was led by quarterback Jason Campbell and running back Ronnie Brown, struck first with a 53-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter. They scored another in the second quarter to take a 14-3 halftime lead, and took a 21-17 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs hung around, though. They leaned on their defense to keep them in the Southeastern Conference game. However, the offense needed to score some points late.
Quarterback David Greene took the snap from shotgun, gave a little pump fake to the right, and then fired the ball to the left quarter of the end zone. It was a jump ball and Johnson snagged it over Auburn cornerback Horace Willis for the game-winning touchdown.
The sideline went nuts. Larry Munson went nuts. So did every UGA fan. The Bulldogs, not the Florida Gators, were SEC East champions.
“I know it’s only the East, but we’re champions tonight,” head coach Mark Richt said.
Georgia football returned to Athens and pummeled Georgia Tech to close out the regular season. The Bulldogs then took care of Arkansas in the SEC title game in Atlanta and beat Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.
The 2002 NCAA college football season was pretty magical for the Dawgs, with several NFL player on the roster, and nobody will ever forget the night Michael Johnson became a Georgia legend forever.