The University of Georgia Bulldogs were in a peculiar predicament.
They were in a tight game against the Vanderbilt Commodores in 1983. That’s right, the same Vanderbilt Commodores who can barely field a competitive college football team today and were an ugly 2-3 heading into the Southeastern Conference matchup.
Holding a seven-point lead in the dwindling seconds of the fourth quarter, UGA All-American safety Terry Hoage saved the day.
Terry Hoage’s Pass Breakup vs. Vanderbilt
Vandy had marched to Georgia’s 24-yard line. The momentum was on their side, and it appeared they were going to take the Bulldogs to overtime.
Vanderbilt quarterback Kurt Page takes the snap. The pocket instantly collapses, forcing him to roll to his right. He sees wide receiver Joe Kelley break free in the corner of the end zone. His man is open, all he has to do is deliver the ball.
Page fires the pass, when at the last second Hoage comes flying across the field. The Georgia Bulldogs football player leaps with all his might and tips the ball with one hand, sending it out of the back of the end zone.
The next play, defensive back Andre Holmes intercepted Page to prevent the upset.
Georgia hung on, 20-13.
Had Page completed the pass, all 12 Vanderbilt fans would’ve turned Nashville into a mad house. Maybe they would’ve pulled a Nebraska and gone for the win by going for two. Doesn’t hurt to try when you have nothing to lose, all the momentum, and are playing at home.
I’ll stop there. Hoage made this hypothetical obsolete.
Hoage’s heroics improved UGA to 5-0-1, keeping their national championship dreams alive. The Bulldogs would fall to No. 3 Auburn later in the year in the de facto SEC Championship game, however, they rebounded with a win over Georgia Tech and a victory against Texas in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
The 1983 season was Georgia football head coach Vince Dooley’s fourth-consecutive season with double-digit wins. Terry Hoage is the reason why, and the midseason loss certainly would’ve blemished a national title-caliber team.