ATHENS – Isaiah McKenzie remembers the same thing about Georgia game against Georgia Tech two years ago in Sanford Stadium that most Bulldog fans remember about that game.
“I remember the interception in overtime.”
Georgia lost that contest thanks to a final play interception thrown by Hutson Mason to give the Yellow Jackets a 30-24 win. Instead of ending what was a strong season on a winning-note, Georgia fell to the Jackets for the first time since 2008 and only the second time since 2001.
McKenzie also felt the same way most Georgia fans felt after that loss.
“I was pretty upset. Even though I didn’t play much I got pretty upset,” he said. “It was a pain.”
The Jackets added insult to injury after the final whistle, when they celebrated snapping their five-game losing streak on the Sanford Stadium gridiron by ripping up parts of Georgia’s storied hedges. It’s an act that still sticks in the craw of senior Brandon Kublanow.
“You see the video of them tearing up the hedges all the time,” Kublanow said. “You don’t forget that kind of stuff.”
And since Kublanow isn’t forgetting, he doesn’t want any of his teammates to forget either. Part of the reason Georgia’s seniors called a team meeting on Sunday was to make sure the players have their heads right by the time Saturday rolls around. Kublanow, who said he spoke at the meeting, had words especially for the players who are new to the rivalry.
“Some of the younger guys don’t really know what [the Georgia Tech game] means,” he said. “It’s important that we relay that message to the guys in the back of the room. It’s important that we have a great week of practice because of how important practice is when you play these guys.”
“It’s an intense game. It’s always a heated game. But at the same time, it’s a lot of fun. They’re a great opponent. Obviously, we always respect them. But we’ll be ready to play.”
Kublanow, a Marietta native, grew up around the rivalry, so he’s been accustomed to the intensity of the game for many years. But the importance of the Georgia Tech game was new to South Florida boys McKenzie and Sony Michel. After three years in the program for each now, they have a better understanding of the dynamics of this game.
“Georgia Tech is the team to beat,” McKenzie said.
“It’s like every other game here,” Michel said. “You don’t lose it.”