Jacksonville, Fla. - Dorsey Hill, the world's biggest Bulldog fan, left here Sunday afternoon, bound for Auburn, Alabama, where Georgia's undefeated football team next appears. "I don't think you can get from Jacksonville to Auburn," I had said to him. "You can change buses in Waycross and Columbus," Dorsey answered.
"You aren't going home first?"
"Home?" He screamed back. "I haven't worked since Texas A&M, and I haven't slept since Clemson. You expect me to go back home when we play Auburn in only six more days?"
I lost my head, I suppose.
A lot of people lost their heads here Saturday afternoon. Georgia played Florida. Georgia won the game, 26-21. It's a lot more complicated than that, however.
Georgia came into the game ranked second in the nation. To continue to compete for its first Big Banana ever, the national championship, Georgia had to continue its winning streak. Florida ( "bunch of swamp lizards and beach bums," according to Dorsey Hill), wanted to step on Georgia's dream.
Dorsey arrived here Thursday afternoon with thousands of others who made the early departure south from various points in Georgia. Many of those individuals were as drunk as five-eyed owls by the time they reached the Florida line.
As local wit Rex Edmondson says, the Georgia-Florida game is the "annual celebration of the repeal of prohibition."
Dorsey waited until Friday to get into his serious pre-game drinking, however. "I stopped at the New Perry Hotel Thursday for lunch and filled up on collards," he said. "It's hard to drink on a belly full of collards."
Now that I have had time to digest all that did eventually happen in college football Saturday, I think I can say without fear of charges of blasphemy that the whole thing was a religious experience. "Deacon Dan" Magill, the "Baptist Bulldog," read a prayer to the Georgia faithful in which he beseeched the Almighty to help the Bulldogs "smite the Florida Philistines."
Then there was the game itself. Georgia behind 21-20, ninety-three yards away, time running out. "We need a miracle!" screamed Dorsey Hill, now fortified with more than collards.
Georgia got its miracle. Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott, for ninety-three yards and the winning touchdown with only seconds remaining. If that wasn't enough, there was the astounding news from Atlanta. Georgia Tech had tied No.1 Notre Dame.
Surely, Georgia will be ranked first in America when the ratings are released. "A tie was a gift from Heaven," said Dorsey. "Notre Dame gets knocked out of number one but Tech doesn't get a win. God is a Bulldog."
I must make one confession here. I did it, and I must suffer the consequences. I gave up at Jacksonville Saturday afternoon. Florida had the ball. Florida had the lead. There was only three minutes to play. I left the stadium. I was in the street when the miracle came.
"You are a gutless disgrace," Dorsey Hill said to me later.
He detailed my punishment: "We're going to a tattoo parlor in this very town tonight," he began. "And you're going to have '26' tattooed on one of your cheeks in red. And you're going to have '21' tattooed in black on the other cheek. I don't want you to forget what you did."
I won't, but which cheeks is between me and the tattooist.
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