Revenge in The Benz

By Justin Hubbard


If you don’t already listen to the Lake Country Sports podcast, entitled Any Given Friday, then you are really missing out.

We record shows each week and make them available on – you guessed it – Fridays. The Eatonton Messenger sports reporter Brandon Bush and I provide weekly updates on the happenings throughout our area as it pertains to our sports teams. Wil Petty, editor of The Baldwin Bulletin, usually joins us to discuss college football and the NFL.

The podcast can be found on SoundCloud (we share the SoundCloud link on the Lake Country Sports Facebook page), iTunes/iPhone Podcast app and the Google Play Music app.

OK, now that I’ve laid a little groundwork with a cheap plug, let’s talk about last Saturday’s Georgia-Auburn game.

I can’t begin to tell you how happy it made me feel watching that game unfold in person. Lake Oconee News general manager Mark Smith Jr. and I covered the game for the paper; he was on the sideline taking pictures and I was in the press box.

My credential allowed me to go onto the sideline during the last five minutes of the game. That’s typical of most college football games I’ve covered but, for some reason, I’d never taken advantage of it before Saturday.

As I walked from one end of the field to the other to meet up with Mark, I looked around and noticed all the people wearing red-colored clothing. Many of them were barking, chanting ‘UGA’ or yelling ‘Go Dawgs!’ It was quite the experience.

I walked by field-level restaurants on the Georgia sideline. Earlier, Mark and I walked around the field before the teams got to the stadium and wound up meeting a security worker who, like Mark and me, graduated from UGA. She was stationed at the field level restaurant.

While I made my way down the sideline, she left her post, walked up to me, stuck out her fist for a fist bump and said ‘How ‘bout them Dawgs?’

Some ways down, I ran into one of my buddies from college, who is a senior at UGA and does multimedia projects for its athletic teams. I tapped him on the arm and I noticed, when he turned around, he had the biggest smile on his face. He reached out and hugged me. We were a couple lifelong Georgia fans ecstatic to see ‘our’ team finally rise to the occasion on a big stage.

I finally met up with Mark in the end zone toward which Georgia was driving. The original plan was for me to take one of his cameras and take pictures of the postgame scene.

He laughed and said he’d filled up one of the camera’s memory so he’d just take pictures by himself. Mark was excited, too.

So there I was, standing and watching the final seconds tick off the clock. Jake Fromm took a knee to put the game away. Dozens of people rushed the field. I stood back a ways – there was no need for me to hurry because all I had with me was my cell phone – and watched it all happen.

I turned around and watched the crowds behind me joyously celebrate as Georgia officially clinched its first SEC title since 2005.

I slowly walked toward midfield so I could have a close-up view of the trophy celebration. I saw 300-pound linemen running around and giggling like children. I saw coaches and their families crying and embracing.

At one point, I ran into senior Aulden Bynum, one of Georgia’s offensive linemen. Aulden and I, along with a few other senior football players, took an anthropology class together one summer. He saw me, gave me a fist bump and I stopped him and said, ‘I just want to shake the hand of an SEC champion.’

Roquan Smith was presented the MVP award and Kirby Smart and the team officially received the SEC championship trophy. I was mere yards away from the stage.

Back to the podcast – If you listened to last week’s episode, then you know I made a bold call. I said Georgia would beat Auburn by 17. I think Brandon and Wil thought I was crazy, but I knew I was gonna be right. As it turned out, Georgia beat the Tigers even worse.

It was a satisfying result for Georgia and its fans considering what happened in Auburn just three weeks prior. The Tigers got the regular season win over Georgia, but Georgia was victorious when it mattered most.

The Bulldogs have officially avenged every SEC loss they suffered the last two years.

Next up, they’ve got to take on Oklahoma and then, hopefully, either Clemson or Alabama.

Regardless of what happens in the Rose Bowl or the national championship, this was a special year for Georgia football. Its fans finally got to see their favorite team come through in significant games. I firmly believe this was just the start of several years of success for the program, too.

It’s always great to be a Bulldog. But on Saturday, it was even sweeter.  

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