Georgia Slips Past Red Raiders, 15-12
ATHENS, Ga.--Texas Tech dominated its opponents for the first 10 quarters of the 1996 season. The final two quarters of the Red Raiders' game against the Georgia Bulldogs were a different story, though.
Georgia, limited to 94 total yards in the first half and trailing Tech, 6-0, at halftime, torched the Red Raiders for 266 yards in the second half and eked out a 15-12 win over the Raiders.
Tech, playing in a driving rain storm for most of the game, did everything but put points on the scoreboard in the first half. Junior I-back and Heisman Trophy candidate Byron Hanspard carried 23 times for 123 yards in the first half, scoring on a four-yard scamper early in the first quarter after Tech's initial drive.
A missed extra-point attempt after the touchdown would turn out to be critical, as holder Field Scovell could not gather in a wide snap and was tackled trying to scramble for the end zone.
Defensive end Tony Daniels broke up Georgia's best first-half scoring chance when he caused and recovered a fumble after the Bulldogs had driven inside the Tech 10-yard line.
Two interceptions thrown by Raider quarterback Zebbie Lethridge ended other scoring chances in the first half, leaving the door wide open for a second-half Georgia comeback.
Tech dodged an bullet early in the second half when punt returner Dane Johnson muffed a Georgia kick. The Bulldogs recovered inside Raider territory, but Johnson keyed a defensive stand that saw the Dogs come up short on a fourth-down play inside the Tech 40-yard line.
After that, though, Bulldog quarterback Mike Bobo came alive. After driving the Bulldogs to the Tech 17-yard line on their next possession, Bobo was intercepted by cornerback Corey Turner. The drive was a sign of things to come.
Held to four completions in 10 attempts in the first half, Bobo scored Georgia's first fourth-quarter points of the season with less than two minutes gone in the period on a one-yard keeper. The extra point kick gave the Bulldogs a 7-6 lead.
The lead lasted exactly 48 seconds.
Following a kickoff return by Clint Robertson that gave the Raiders the ball at their 44-yard line, Hanspard went for nine yards on a screen pass. On the next play, Hanspard went around left end for 47 yards and the go-ahead touchdown.
The Raiders missed a two-point attempt when Georgia stopped Lethridge one foot short of the goal line on a naked bootleg attempt. Still, the Raiders had regained the lead, 12-7.
Georgia drove the ball to midfield on their next possession, but the Tech defense forced a punt after three incomplete passes by Bobo.
The Raiders seemed to have the game well in hand on their next possession. The Raiders ate seven minutes off the clock with a drive that featured first downs following two third-and-long situations. Lethridge was tackled for a huge loss on the Raiders third third-down conversion attempt of the drive, and Tech was forced to punt.
Tech punter Jeremy Hernandez, ranked seventh nationally coming into the game, nailed a 49-yard punt on his eighth kick of the game, pinning the Bulldogs at their three-yard line with 2:57 showing on the clock.
Bobo didn't need near that much time, as it turned out. Two completed passes put the Bulldogs near midfield with 2:04 on the clock. There, on fourth-down and 10 yards to go, Bobo found wide receiver Juan Daniels wide open at the Tech 22-yard line.
Seconds later, the Dogs went ahead for good when Bobo once again found Daniels in the end zone. Bobo, injured on the play when he was hit by Tech linebacker Anthony Armour, then pitched the ball on a reverse option for a successful two-point attempt. The Bulldogs led, 15-12, with less than two minutes to go.
The Raiders took over on their own 28-yard line with 1:39 left in the game. Lethridge, who threw seven complete passes in the ballgame, overcame a fourth-down and 10 to set the Raiders up inside the Georgia 40-yard line with less 30 seconds left.
After failing to gain any yardage, head coach Spike Dykes sent in kicker Jaret Greaser to attempt a game-tying 54-yard field goal with seven seconds left in the game. Greaser's kick missed the left upright by less than two feet, and the Bulldogs had their first win of the season.
"They made the plays the needed to make," said defensive end Daniels.
"I guess we had too much rest, I don't know. This game hurts a lot."
Dykes echoed that sentiment.
"It was a great performance in a lot of areas. It was tough to lose. They made the plays, their quarterback did a good job. We played great defense for three quarters," said Dykes. "When they dial your number, you've got to make plays. Georgia did that.
"This was a hard loss. Our guys put a lot of effort into this game."
Hanspard was one of the few bright spots for the Raiders. The fleet-footed back gained 214 yards on 37 carries for his fourth 200-plus-yard performance in Tech's last five games. Hanspard, along with the rest of the Tech offense, was bottled up for most of the second half of the ballgame. Not counting his 47-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Hanspard carried 13 times for 45 yards in the second half.
In all, Tech gained 372 yards of offense. The Bulldogs gained 360 yards.
Bobo, held 83 yards passing in the first half, finished the game with 16 completions in 34 attempts for 292 yards and a touchdwon. He was also picked off once.
At: Sanford Stadium, Athens Date: Sept. 21. 1006 Att: 73,116 Texas Tech 6 - 0 - 0 - 6 -- 12 Georgia 0 - 0 - 0 - 15 -- 15 First Quarter Tech - TD, Byron Hanspard, 4 run (kick failed), 6:54 Second Quarter No scoring Third Quarter No scoring Fourth Quarter GA - TD, Mike Bobo, 1 run (Hap Himes kick), 1:56 Tech - TD, Byron Hanspard, 47 run (two-point conversion failed, 2:44 GA - TD, Juan Daniels, 22 pass from Mike Bobo (Hines Ward reception for two-point conversion), 13:15 Texas Tech Georgia First downs 19 15 Rushed-yards 58-301 27-66 Passing yards 71 292 Sacked-yards lost 2-19 1-10 Return yards 10 21 Passes 8-23-2 16-34-1 Punts 8-44.8 8-41.1 Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1 Penalties-yards 5-60 4-40 Time of possession 37:39 22:21 RUSHING: Texas Tech-Hanspard 37-214, Lethridge 13-42, Morris 3-21, Ervin 2-15, R Jones 3-9. Georgia-Kirtsey 10-55, Edwards 7-43, Calloway 5-5, Bobo 5-minus 37. 16-34-1-292. PASSING: Texas Tech - Lethridge 8-23-2-71 Georgia - Bobo 16-34-1-292 RECEIVING: Texas Tech-Hanspard 3-31, Mckenzie 2-9, Dubuc 1-16, Bass 1-9, Morris 1-6. Georgia-Daniels 6-97, Ward 5-94, Dickson 2-23, Allen 1-57, Edwards 1-19, Kirtsey 1-2.