Georgia will be making its third appearance in the Gator Bowl today.
In 1948, Georgia played Maryland in Jacksonville, Fla., in a game which ended in a 20-20 tie.
When Vince Dooley took his sixth bowl team to Jacksonville in 1971, Georgia eked out a 7-3 win over North Carolina, coached by his younger brother, Bill.
Georgia’s offensive production for two appearances in the fifth oldest bowl is only 27 points, which is about what many teams post for a half with today’s high-octane offenses.
Bill and Vince were always very close, but like all brothers very competitive. Each badly wanted to win the game in which there was an undercurrent of favoritism in the family for Bill as perceived by Vince’s wife Barbara. She sensed that the sisters in the family had sentiment for the baby brother.
You would have to say that Bill certainly had opportunity after leading in the game, 3-0 until the fourth quarter when Georgia scored the only touchdown of the day for a 7-3 victory. It was not a stirring and exciting game to say the least.
Some suggested it might have been one of the most boring bowl games of all time. The Georgia view was that it was great defense. The low scoring affair brought about this classic quote from Rex Edmondson, Georgia graduate and a long time columnist for the Jacksonville papers. “Vince won the toss and ran the clock out.”
That team was made up of some very exciting sophomore players led by quarterback Andy Johnson and halfback Jimmy Poulas, who led the Bulldogs to 11 victories, losing only to Auburn in Athens, 35-20.
While the Bulldogs didn’t score a lot of points, they held North Carolina to only 181 yards of total offense when the Tar Heels had been averaging 365 yards per game.
Georgia had given up 59 points in its final two games against Auburn and Georgia Tech, but kept Carolina from scoring a touchdown. A drive of 80 yards led to the winning touchdown, highlighted by a 32-yard pass from Johnson to split end Lynn Hunnicutt, putting the ball at the Tar Heel 25-yard line. On the next play, Poulas turned left end, hit the sideline and sprinted to the end zone. Kim Braswell’s PAT made it 7-3, the final score.
In 1948 Georgia won the SEC championship for the third time under coach Wallace Butts by defeating Georgia Tech, 21-14 in Athens on a punt return by Ken McCall.
The Bulldogs were invited to play in the Gator Bowl. With time running out in the fourth quarter — there were no game clocks in those days — quarterback John Rauch had moved the Bulldogs to the Maryland 4-yard line when time expired. Nobody thought much about the situation, but Rauch was to second guess himself later. He recalled that he didn’t think about asking the officials how much time was left.
“We were in position to kick a field goal,” Rauch recalled. “I don’t know why I didn’t call time out and allow Joe Geri to make a kick which would have won the game. He was a very good kicker and I blame myself for not handling the situation.”
For many years the Gator Bowl was considered one of the big five bowls along with the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Cotton Bowls, although the Sun Bowl is older than all the bowls except the Rose Bowl.
The Gator Bowl game did not have the big dollar payouts of today and primarily attracted teams from the Southeast.
It did not have the prestige of the other bowls. In the 1940s, any bowl invitation was a big deal.
Georgia is one of the few teams to have played in the five oldest bowls.