WATCH: Georgia’s Eli Wolf makes clutch catch, secures place in Cocktail Party history
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —Georgia tight end Eli Wolf told everyone “there’s no reason to worry” about the Bulldogs’ offense during the bye week, and then he showed everyone why on Saturday.
Wolf came through with a clutch catch that sealed the Bulldogs’ 24-17 win over Florida in the final minutes, reeling in a 22-yard pass in traffic that enabled No. 6-ranked Georgia to run out the clock and keep their SEC Championship hopes alive.
The Bulldogs were clinging to a 7-point lead with just under 3 minutes left on Saturday, needing one play to put Florida away for good.
Third-and-7 at their own 35, clock stopped with 2:53 left, offensive coordinator James Coley called Eli Wolf’s number looking to convert on third down for the 12th time in 17 attempts.
“You try to win the game when you get an opportunity to and that was our chance to win the game,” UGA coach Kirby Smart said. “It was clutch. He wanted it.”
Quarterback Jake Fromm was backpedalling as he lofted a pass 25 yards down the field between two Florida defenders and into the arms of Wolf, who had spotted the same soft spot in the zone.
Georgia needed a big play. Jake Fromm delivered it. pic.twitter.com/x6Am1o8OZ3
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 2, 2019
“Yeah, that’s trust, the play was called and Eli did a great job of getting open,” Fromm said. “It was a great read by him, and I’m thankful he got open and made a great play.”
It’s a play that will be remembered for several reasons: Smart taking a chance on passing instead of running the ball, Fromm putting a masterful touch on the pass in the face of the blitz, and Wolf adjusting to the throw and bringing it in.
Wolf, a graduate transfer from Tennessee, shrugged off the play as routine.
“We have a concept where I just happened to be running a 12-yard out route,” Wolf said. “I saw Jake release the ball early, so I just ran there and caught it, do what we do every day in practice.”
Fact is, big-time plays are becoming routine for Wolf, who in less than six months has evolved into one of Fromm’s most trusted targets and a key piece of Georgia’s evolving pass game.
The Bulldogs lost their top five pass catchers from last season, including matchup tight end Isaac Nauta to the NFL draft.
Wolf, who a year ago became an afterthought in the Vols’ offense because his coach insisted he gain 5 more pounds, has blossomed as a graduate transfer at Georgia.
Smart said earlier this season the Bulldogs need Wolf as much as he needed them, and the results have gone beyond his 11 catches for 142 yards for the No. 6-ranked Bulldogs.
Wolf, like fellow graduate transfer Lawrence Cager, has brought a veteran work ethic and leadership presence with his buy-in.
“We’re always trying to make a statement, every time you step on the field you want to put your product out there, and our product is hard-nosed football,” Wolf said. “It just shows our testament to overcome adversity. There’s a lot of doubters but the people in the locker room know who we are, and we’re going to keep an identity out there.”
Wolf was already a part of the 2019 Georgia football identity, and now with his clutch catch in the school’s biggest rivalry game, he owns a piece of Bulldogs’ folklore.
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