There were some who might have been worried that Cincinnati was going to get one final play after Jack Podlesny’s game-winning final. The Bearcats had the ball on their own 2-yard line with just two seconds to go.
For senior safety Richard LeCounte this was an opportunity. The senior safety had one final chance to get out onto the field after he had missed the previous four games stemming from injuries suffered during an October traffic accident.
The play ended in an Azeez Ojulari sack and safety. But for LeCounte, it was one final play to cap his Georgia career.
LeCounte celebrated the win on Twitter with a simple message.
I Got one Last Play ! That’s all I was wishing for ! GOOOO DAWGGGSSSS!!
— Richard LeCounte III (@LilEasy_35) January 1, 2021
LeCounte’s head coach, Kirby Smart, shared an even better message and video of the final play for the Georgia standout. Smart added that LeCounte was begging to get in and shared LeCounte was voted a team captain.
Just wanted to make sure all of #DawgNation saw that Richard LeCounte was begging to get in and help his team win – he got in – the last play of the game – and was also voted a team captain by his teammates. Go Dawgs !! pic.twitter.com/q9MAext1f0
— Coach Kirby Smart (@KirbySmartUGA) January 2, 2021
LeCounte looked like one of the best defenders in the country when he was on the field this season. In Georgia’s first five games of the season, LeCounte had three interceptions, four pass break-ups and 26 tackles.
Then following a win over Kentucky, LeCounte was involved in a traffic accident where he sustained a concussion, a shoulder injury as well as a number of bruises and scrapes.
The Bulldogs missed him greatly against Florida, as the Gators put up 44 points and over 500 yards of offense.
LeCounte could’ve decided to call it a year and start readying for the 2021 NFL Draft. The senior from Riceboro, Ga., accepted a Senior Bowl invite and that will be a valuable chance for NFL teams to get a closer look at the standout safety.
But LeCounte wanted to be around his teammates. He wanted to remain with the team and see the field one last time. So while some of his teammates declared for the NFL draft, he stayed with the Bulldogs through bowl practices.
He was one of the key leaders for the Georgia team this year and it shows in the comments made by teammate Chris Smith.
“He had a huge impact,” Smith said. “Like I say, he always gave me tips when I was on the field, helped me out a lot. Very special to see him get out on the field on the last play and go out on top.”
Smith ended up filling in for LeCounte at the safety position and will likely be a starter for Georgia next season.
The Georgia secondary didn’t look like the one Georgia had when it took on Alabama earlier this season. Eric Stokes and DJ Daniel both opted out of the game to prepare for the NFL draft. The Bulldogs were also without Mark Webb due to injury.
So Tyrique Stevenson slid over to corner and Latavious Brinni stepped in at star. Stevenson actually ended up making the biggest play of the game for Georgia, as he broke up a Desmond Ridder pass to force Cincinnati’s final punt. Georgia scored the game-winning field goal on the ensuing drive.
“We had a lot of guys come in out of position, guys down. It was a really tough week in the secondary,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “They rose up today. They played better as the game went on, I thought.”
— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) January 1, 2021
LeCounte was the first player to commit to Smart when he took over as Georgia’s head coach back in 2015. He was perhaps the face of the Georgia program for this season and a key leader. He helped lead Georgia out onto the field against Cincinnati, as this was the first time since the Kentucky game that LeCounte dressed out.
The year didn’t go the way LeCounte or any Georgia fan hoped. But LeCounte got to play one last time, and he and the Bulldogs helped start the 2021 year on a happy and positive note.
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