football Edit

Counting the Days – Day 66

"66" is for (L to R) Bulldog Williams, Kris Durham for a touchdown, and the late Royce Smith.

Dave McMahon and Patrick Garbin

Established in 1926, and originally running from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, for 2,448 miles, Route 66 was one of the nation’s first highways. It ran through eight states and three time zones. The routes were changed periodically and, in 1985, Route 66 was officially decommissioned as a federal highway. Still, approximately 85 percent of the highway is still in use. A song about Route 66 was recorded by several artists, including Nat King Cole, who made it a hit in 1946. In addition, Route 66 was also a television program in the 1960s. I will talk about the 1960s in one of my Georgia memories—read about it below, and others regarding the number 66:

By Dave McMahon

3 – Most UGA football fans know the Bulldogs have been mostly a running team throughout their history. On Day 89 of our countdown, I discussed that Georgia rushed for a school-record 89 times against Kentucky. The most Georgia has rushed the ball in a bowl game is 66 times against Stanford in the 1978 Bluebonnet Bowl. Despite leading 22-0, it was the Cardinal that eventually won the game, 25-22. The SEC’s Player of the Year, Willie McClendon, had 30 of the team’s 66 rush attempts, gaining 115 yards. But, strangely, two out of the three touchdowns scored by the Bulldogs were through the air. The game featured two legendary coaches: Vince Dooley of Georgia and Bill Walsh who, turns out, was coaching Stanford for his last game (before coaching them again in the early 1990s) before leaving for the San Francisco 49ers.

2 – Quarterback Aaron Murray’s first meeting with Georgia Tech in 2010 was a victory, but it wasn’t an easy one. Seemingly, every time the Bulldogs took a lead, the Yellow Jackets would tie it up just minutes later. A Murray-to-Kris Durham touchdown pass started things right for Georgia. The scoring play was a short pass, but Durham sprinted the rest of the 66 yards for the game’s first touchdown, marking Murray’s longest pass completion of the season and Durham’s longest reception of his career. Like I said, the game went back-and-forth, but the Dawgs would take a 35-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Jackets would score a touchdown, and then another with less than five minutes left. However, they missed the extra point, and Georgia led by merely a point. The Dawgs scored an insurance touchdown courtesy of a Washaun Ealey 20-yard run (a touchdown in which Tech actually allowed UGA score). Georgia Tech threatened again, but Justin Houston picked off Tevin Washington, clinching a 42-34 victory for the Bulldogs. Game highlights, including the Murray-to-Durham 66-yarder:

1 – I am using 66 here, as in the ’66 championship season. After head coach Vince Dooley went 13-7-1 his first two seasons at Georgia, he led the Bulldogs to a 10-1 overall record in 1966, including an undefeated conference mark (only loss was at Miami, Fla.), and what was Dooley’s first SEC title. The Bulldogs had a great defense in ’66 led by George Patton and Bill Stanfill. Georgia held its opponents to single digits in five of the 11 games, while the most points they allowed was only 17—and, that was in the season opener against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs capped their ’66 campaign by winning the Cotton Bowl, 24-9, against the SMU Mustangs.

By Patrick Garbin

3—An unsung star on Georgia’s great 1946 squad was tackle No. 66 Garland “Bulldog” Williams. Because of the interruption of World War II, several Bulldogs saw significant playing time on the national championship team of 1942 and, then again four seasons later, on the undefeated 11-0 Bulldogs of 1946. However, only Williams started at least eight games in each of the two championship campaigns. According to a sports writer, Bulldogs Williams “didn’t have the faintest idea about a defense or offense’s plan.” Apparently, Georgia was working on defense one day in practice when Williams “ignored his assignment…if he realized he had any special one.” Suddenly, head coach Wally Butts called to him, “Bulldog, where were you on that play?” Williams simply answered, “Coach, I was back there and amongst ’em.”

2—Weighing only 195 pounds, offensive lineman No. 66 Royce Smith originally thought perhaps the only reason the Bulldogs offered him a scholarship in 1967 was because his hometown of Savannah had put pressure on UGA because the Bulldogs hadn’t signed a prospect out of “The Hostess City of the South” in five years. In actuality, Georgia knew what it was doing in signing the standout guard, who would eventually grow to 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds. Smith was a three-year starter for the Bulldogs from 1969 to 1971, won the SEC's Jacobs Award as the conference's best blocker as a senior in 1971, and was a consensus All-America selection that same season. At only 54 years old, Smith passed away in Claxton, Ga., on January 23, 2004. Three years later, he was selected for induction into the school's Circle of Honor, the highest tribute paid to former UGA athletes and coaches.

1—The number “66” played a significant role in the ’76 Georgia-Clemson game in Death Valley. For one, the Bulldogs really opened up their three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense by passing for nearly 200 yards. Split end-tight end Steve Davis made a team-high four receptions for 66 yards, including two touchdowns. The first of Davis’ two touchdowns:

Okay, so Davis’ “66” in the 1976 Georgia-Clemson contest is not all that noteworthy. I primarily just thought I’d share a 40-year-old clip of the legendary Larry Munson (and, more vintage Munson to come in this countdown—stay tuned!). The significant “66” from the game is associated with third-string quarterback Tony Flanagan who, as Georgia’s first African-American quarterback to see varsity action, has been mentioned in the countdown before. It was against the Tigers in ’76 that Flanagan took the field for the first time. Relieving Matt Robinson and Ray Goff, he went under center with 11:41 remaining in the game and the Bulldogs leading, 34-0. Flanagan drove the Bulldogs 66 yards in 12 plays, culminating with a touchdown run by sophomore Willie McClendon in a 41-0 victory.