Georgia Coach Vince Dooley and quarterback Wayne Johnson both bid farewell to college footator
Georgia Coach Vince Dooley and quarterback Wayne Johnson both bid farewell to college football Sunday night in surprising fashion.
Noted for his conservative offense during his 25 years at the Bulldog helm, Dooley threw a rare passing offense at Michigan State in the Gator Bowl and earned his 201st victory, 34-27 over the Spartans.
"The biggest surprise of all is that these two ground-oriented conservative football teams got together in one of the truly great passing classics," Dooley said. "When I phase out, I want to really phase out."
Johnson, who completed 15 of 27 passes for a career-high 227 yards and rushed for 30 more, said the Spartans' "main weakness was the way they pursued to the ball.
"We used a lot of play action passes to take advantage of they way they pursued," he said.
Johnson threw two touchdown passes to Rodney Hampton, who also ran 32 yards for a third score. Hampton rushed for 109 yards and added 71 passing yards to help boost No. 19 Georgia to a 9-3 record.
Dooley announced last month he would retire as coach following the game. He also will relinquish his position as athletic director this spring, possibly for a shot at Georgia politics. He finished with a career coaching record of 201-77-10.
Michigan State Coach George Perles praised Georgia as the better team but said he was proud of his team for rallying to make it close in the second half.
"The only losers out there tonight were our football team," Perles said. "They played hard; they got beat by a better team. It was a very interesting game."
Perles was displeased with the officiating that saw the Spartans penalized for 102 yards.
Georgia held an early 17-0 lead over the Spartans, 6-5-1, but Bobby McAllister hit Andre Rison, who finished with 252 yards on nine catches, with two touchdown passes and Blake Ezor added a four-yard rushing TD to cut the deficit to 27-20 early in the fourth quarter.
Rison's receiving yardage broke the Gator Bowl record set by Fred Biletnikoff of Florida State against Oklahoma in 1965.
Hampton responded with his touchdown run with 11:58 left in the quarter, giving Georgia a 34-20 lead. McAllister and Rison connected again on a 50-yard scoring pass with 3:59 left, but the Bulldogs ran out the clock with a sustained rushing drive.
After a shaky start for both teams, Georgia took the lead in the first quarter on a 6-yard pass from Johnson to Hampton.
The Bulldogs then capped their next drive early in the second period with a 39-yard field goal by Steve Crumley.
The Spartans stumbled on their next possession and were forced to punt after an ineligible receiver penalty negated a McAllister-Rison connection. Georgia then took a 17-0 lead on Johnson's 30-yard TD pass to Hampton.