Throwback Thursday: Team-wide TD celebration lifts Georgia over Tebow's Gators
In 2007, Georgia coach Mark Richt challenged his 20th-ranked Bulldogs to set the tone early with a premeditated touchdown celebration against No. 9 Florida.
Richt’s orders led to two 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that were enforced on the ensuing kickoff but also served as a catalyst for Georgia to pull off the upset over its SEC East rival.
“I told them if they didn’t get a celebration penalty after our first score, all of them would be doing early morning runs,” Richt said to reporters after the game. “I wanted to make sure we left this game with our hearts on the field.”
Knowshon Moreno rushed for a 1-yard touchdown in the first quarter to give Georgia a 7-0 lead. He then proceeded to celebrate in the end zone with his teammates, not just his offensive teammates that were on the field with him at the time, all of his teammates.
In what would be referred to by some later as the “Gator Stomp,” Richt’s team rallied behind the team-wide touchdown dance and went on to beat the Tim Tebow-led Gators 42-30.
It was a pretty back-and-forth game after Moreno’s touchdown with both teams exchanging blows. With Georgia leading 35-30 with just under 10 minutes to go in the game, it appeared like Tebow would be in line for another one of his fourth-quarter comebacks.
But the Bulldogs defense tightened up and Moreno eventually scored his third touchdown of the day with 3:54 left to seal the victory for Georgia. Moreno finished with 188 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns in what was the first game in the series between these schools where both teams scored at least 30 points.
Although the unifying team celebration helped Georgia beat Florida in 2007, it turned out to hurt Richt’s team the following year in the next meeting between the Bulldogs and Gators.
Florida coach Urban Meyer insisted all week leading up to the game with Georgia in 2008 that the previous year’s celebration would have no bearing on his team’s performance in the upcoming matchup. But anyone that could read between the lines knew that this wasn’t the case, especially when Meyer issued a gag order for his team that prevented the players from talking to the media about the 2007 game.
Both teams were having a great year in 2008 and this was a big game, with the winner having an inside track to the national championship. But the Gators sent a message on their way to a national title that season by dismantling the Bulldogs 49-10.
After securing the revenge game, Meyer finally admitted that the “Gator Stomp” served as fuel for his team to put on a show.
“Was it motivation for our players? Yeah, it was,” Meyer told reporters after the game.