ATHENS — “We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose! We just crushed their face!”
Hardcore Georgia fans know that famous call by heart. They also know it was made by the Bulldogs’ legendary radio play-by-play man, the late Larry Munson, and that it was made on Oct. 6th in the 2001 season when Georgia beat No. 6 Tennessee 26-24 in Knoxville.
As Georgia prepares to host Tennessee this Saturday, the game represents the 15th anniversary of that play and that call, hard as it is to believe. And, quite appropriately, the two persons most responsible for evoking that incomparable description out of Munson will be in attendance.
Quarterback David Greene and fullback Verron Haynes — who connected on the 6-yard, game-winning TD on the play known to all Bulldogs as “P-44 Haynes” — will be conducting a podcast with DawgNation.com and signing autographs at the UGA Bookstore from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday. It’s one of several media obligations both men will be filling in honor of the anniversary of one of Georgia’s most famous plays of all time.
But both individuals will tell you, as great as the play was and as brilliant of a play-call as it was by first-year head coach Mark Richt, it was Munson’s emotional description that has made it the memory that it is.
“You know, it rolls around a lot this time of year,” said Haynes, now retired from pro football and running a real estate and property management business in Atlanta. “The great Larry Munson put us on the map. He’s the one who put claim to that.”
“If it wasn’t for Larry’s call, it would have been just another great game in UGA football history,” said Greene, an insurance brokerage executive in Atlanta who does some college football analysis for ESPN’s SEC Network. “His call is what really solidified and kind of captured that moment. I think everybody, all Georgia fans and players, were all going crazy because of the sheer excitement of that game. But obviously hearing Larry’s voice and his excitement kind of put the exclamation point on how we were all feeling.”
Interestingly, Haynes and Greene heard about Munson’s call at different times. Greene said he didn’t find out about it until some time the next week as he was busying himself with preparation for Vanderbilt. Haynes said he got some insight into it immediately after the game.
“Emotions are running wild in the locker room and Larry was doing an interview with Loran Smith,” Haynes recalled. “I overheard Loran ask him, ‘So, Larry, what is a hobnail boot?’ And classic Larry, he goes, ‘hell if I know.’ He didn’t even know! But that was the genius of the late, great Larry Munson, right? He was meant to do his job and he did it well.”
Greene said he didn’t catch wind of it until the next week.
“Back in those days, I never really had time to sit and enjoy anything,” Greene said with a laugh. “We were always focusing on the next day, the next week, the next game. You always had to close the book and get ready for the next one. I heard the call and thought it was pretty neat. But I never really got to enjoy the whole deal because I was still playing ball. But it’s neat now. I’ll be with my kids at a game and they’ll show it on the jumbotron and I enjoy it every time.”
A quick refresher on the situation 15 years ago:
- Georgia had lost nine of 10 to the Vols and hadn’t won in Neyland Stadium since 1980 when Munson made another famous call about freshman Herschel Walker “running all over people.”
- It looked like Georgia was going to snap the streak until Tennessee’s Travis Stephens went 62 yards to score off a screen pass and give the Vols a 24-20 lead with 44 seconds to play. It look like the Bulldogs would be heartbroken again.
- Turns out that was more than enough time to flip the script. Greene led the Bulldogs 59 yards down the field in 39 seconds. He hit tight end Randy McMichael for completions of 27 and 14 yards, the second of which set up Georgia first-and-goal at the Tennessee 6.
- Richt summoned Greene to the sideline and told him to run P-44 Haynes. The “P” stands for pass, 44 means to fake it to the fullback through the 4 hole and Haynes was to run through the line and squat in the middle of the zone. Tennessee’s “quarters coverage” left Haynes wide open in the middle of the end zone. Georgia scored a touchdown with :05 remaining. The two-point conversion attempt failed but the Bulldogs prevailed.
“It’s a credit to a bunch of things,” Haynes said. “First of all, the play-call was superb by Coach Richt. Secondly, David Greene and I get the notoriety but there were a lot of key players and key plays that put us in position to even be talking about that right now. Damien Gary, Jermaine Phillips, the defense did an awesome job all day. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Randy McMichael.
“It was one of those things where we finally finished the drill. When Coach Richt came in that was his motto, ‘Finish the Drill,’ and we put a claim on it that day.”