ATHENS, Ga. -- A.J. Green jumped high, reached over LSU's Chris Hawkins and secured a pass in the right side of the end zone that seemed to give Georgia an improbable victory that would almost certainly be impossible to relinquish. Sanford Stadium was rocking, an entire fan base ecstatic. And I was gathering my thoughts for a column on the Bulldog receiver when -- What the hell? -- everything quickly changed.
Suddenly, the Bulldogs were kicking from their own 15 because of a celebration penalty.
Then LSU's Trindon Holliday returned the kick into Georgia territory.
Then officials added five yards because of a formation penalty.
Just like that, LSU had the ball on the Georgia 38 with 62 seconds left. Two plays later, Charles Scott broke a 33-yard touchdown run that had the same fans who were minutes earlier celebrating a win now mourning a loss, and what a wild Saturday it was here between the hedges.
Final score: LSU 20, Georgia 13.
I'm sure I've seen crazier games, but I can't recall one.
"Our football team will beat you up and steal the game if you turn your back on them," said LSU coach Les Miles. "I'm so proud of our football team, and it is fun being undefeated at this time."
You know those horror movies where a young couple is not doing much of anything, just bored as hell and on the verge of falling asleep before a bunch of insane stuff happens? That's how this game unfolded. LSU and Georgia weren't doing much of anything for three quarters, and I was bored as hell (and on the verge of falling asleep). Through 45 minutes of football, we had no touchdowns, only two field goals and just 386 yards of total offense. LSU was ahead 6-0. Best anybody could tell, that would be the final.
But then Georgia took a 7-6 lead on Joe Cox's 1-yard touchdown pass to Shaun Chapas with 14:15 remaining. And then LSU took a 12-7 lead on Scott's 2-yard touchdown run with 2:53 remaining. And then Georgia took a 13-12 lead on Cox's 16-yard touchdown pass to Green with 1:09 remaining, and that's when I started preparing for a column on how Green should be nationally recognized as better than the only receiver Scout.com ranked ahead of him in the Class of 2008, Alabama's Julio Jones.
I mean, the catch was that good.
It reminded me of the play from Texas Tech's win over Texas last year, you know, the one where Michael Crabtree turned a bad situation into a touchdown and left everybody (except for the Oakland Raiders, apparently) fairly sure he was the only person in college who could've made that play on that stage. This was similar. Considering where Green was positioned (behind the LSU cornerback) and where Cox threw the ball (straight to the LSU cornerback), this seemed likely to lead to an interception or an incompletion. Those were the only options. But then Green jumped higher than Hawkins, reached over him and snatched the ball out of the air for a touchdown that appeared destined to diminish the showdown between No. 1 Florida and No. 4 LSU.
|'Our football team will beat you up and steal the game ...,' coach Les Miles says. (US Presswire)|
Indeed they did.
(But before LSU's big play was the stupid penalty on Green for celebrating, and this really is something that must be addressed. In what world should a human not celebrate a score like the score Green produced? It's unnatural to expect no celebration and ridiculous to penalize for it. You get the sense SEC officials -- who also penalized LSU for celebrating a touchdown -- would throw a flag for fist-pumping after a Powerball win, penalize a woman 15 yards for smiling at the sight of her healthy newborn. But I digress.)
Actually, it was two big plays.
The first was Holiday's return that -- combined with a five-yard illegal formation penalty against the Bulldogs -- gave LSU a first-and-10 at the Georgia 38 with 1:02 remaining. So in a matter of seven seconds -- one, two, three, four, five, six, seven seconds -- Georgia went from celebrating Green's incredible catch and the victory it was sure to produce to wondering if it could keep LSU out of field goal range.
Naturally, it could not.
Scott got five yards on first down.
He broke tackles and scored on second down.
And there hasn't been a what-just-happened moment like that since the Obamas made their pitch for Chicago in front of the International Olympic Committee. Georgia got the ball back with 42 seconds remaining, but all it could manage was a six-yard loss on first down and an interception on third. When the final horn sounded, the Bulldogs exited the field like Chicago -- LSU partied like it was Rio. And now what we have is next Saturday's primetime showdown between the undefeated Tigers and undefeated Gators that should be great with or without Tim Tebow.
As long as nobody celebrates a touchdown, of course.