D’Wan Mathis will always remember the first time he took the field as the Georgia starting quarterback even if his performance was somewhat forgettable.
Mathis, playing in his first game since Nov. 2, 2018 when he was at Oak Park (Mich.) High School, drove the Bulldogs to the Arkansas 47 on the opening drive.
It was clear the 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman had plenty of arm strength and mobility throughout his SEC debut against the re-charged Razorbacks.
Mathis played the first six series for UGA before veteran Stetson Bennett came on in relief with the Bulldogs trailing 7-2 and 10:07 left in the second quarter.
Mathis put himself on a short leash in the first quarter when he threw a costly interception at the Arkansas 5-yard line, apparently not on the same page as his receiver.
On what proved to be Mathis’ final series of the first half, the redshirt freshman was at the Razorbacks’ 25 when a shotgun snap slipped through his hands and led to a 17-yard loss that took the Bulldogs out of field goal position.
Bennett rallied Georgia to a 34-10 lead before Mathis returned to the game at the 8:49 mark of the fourth quarter, leading a field goal drive before his day was done.
Mathis finished 8-of-17 passing for 55 yards with an interception and with 10 carries for a net of 4 yards.
It was a storybook situation just for Mathis to play football again, as he overcame the brain surgery he underwent on May 23, 2019.
ESPN long-time host Rece Davis dropped a hint Mathis would get the start on the GameDay program, much to the delight of the supportive Georgia fan base.
Even Arkansas coach Sam Pittman could appreciate all Mathis had been through leading up to the game.
“I was there at Georgia with D’Wan, and we know what kind of arm he has,” Pittman said this week. “But he would be maybe a little bit more of a double threat, a dual-threat because he certainly can run. He can actually fly. He’s really fast, and to be honest with you, guys I’m really excited if he plays against us. I’m excited for him.
“Because he had surgery that might not have allowed him to play. He’s come a long way. Certainly, we’re not wanting to play against him because he’s such a talented young man. But I’m certainly thrilled that he has been cleared and is ready to get his football career back on course. A wonderful kid.”
D’Wan Mathis this week on DawgNation
- His last game: Mike Griffith tells the story of his last start for DawgNation
- D’Wan “The Miracle’ Mathis: Recapping his journey from Michigan to Arkansas
- David Pollack makes strong case for D’Wan Mathis at QB
- Arkansas coach Sam Pittman shares classy tribute to D’Wan Mathis at QB