NASHVILLE, Tenn. - You'll have to go back quite a while to find a more exciting - or for fans of the Georgia Bulldogs a more gut-wrenching - final 15 seconds than what occurred in Saturday's 33-28 win over Vanderbilt.
After falling short on third down at their own 45, all Drew Butler needed to do was get off his punt to relegate the Commodores to some sort of Hail-Mary pass to try and win the game.
Their prayers were answered a lot sooner than that when three Vandy players broke through, blocking the punt setting up a three-to-one scrum for the football bouncing precariously on the turf.
First it was Kenny Ladler who pounced on the ball, then teammate Steven Clarke before Butler made the tackle that saved the Bulldogs' bacon.
"It was simple play call for me. I was just planning getting the ball and kicking it out of bounds. I'm not sure what the operation time was, but he got in there pretty clean and took it off my foot," Butler said of his first career block. "I was fortunate enough to get on him before he went back, so we definitely kept a disaster from turning into a catastrophe and all the credit goes to the defense for stopping them to win the game."
Butler still wasn't sure how he made the play.
"I just saw the guy running, I saw he had the ball and I just jumped on him," he said. "We really got lucky with that one."
But with seven seconds to go, the game was far from over.
Following a substitution penalty on Vandy, quarterback Jordan Rodgers dropped back and threw to the end zone in the direction of wide receiver Chris Boyd.
For a moment, Boyd appeared to be open before the football was tipped away by safety Bacarri Rambo.
One second remained.
On the final play, Rodgers looked deep, but Georgia's secondary forced the younger brother of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers to dump the ball off to Brandon Barden who picked up nine yards before being smothered by Mike Gilliard and Branden Smith as time ran out.
"We were really running two guys deep, one under and I would have really liked to get it in the end zone there," Rodgers said. "I don't want to leave one short and have him try to run into the end zone and get pulled up. I thought we had a decent shot on Boyd, but I ended up having to come back shorter because of where the safety was playing, but it was close."
Linebacker Ray Drew, who played extensively the second half and recorded the Bulldogs' only sack, took a positive approach with what happened.
"At least let us know in a way that we can come back from a bad situation. In a way it's a good-bad situation," he said. "It's bad that it happened, but good that we stuck together as a team to still get the win."
That said, Drew admits the final moments were all a blur.
"I can't even remember. Everything was going so quick. I remember going over the plays, us talking how we wanted to handle the situation, but that's about it," he said. "Those last few minutes it was so exciting with us trying to do this and do that, I really can't remember it all."
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]