One of the most acclaimed blocks of all time, if you are a student of Georgia history, the one which prevented the sacking of Buck Belue in 1980 in Jacksonville, has not gotten the traction it deserves as, “The Block,” so let’s see if the following verbiage can help bring about movement in that direction.
It wasn’t a spectacular head-over-heels effort that would dominate SportsCenter which didn’t exist back them. It mostly went undisclosed by the media even in the post-game press conference. But Buck (Belue, the quarterback) knew. Buck’s teammates and the coaches knew. Larry Munson spotted it in the radio booth when he said in his play-by-play account, “(Buck)…got a block behind him.” Still, because of the sensational accounts of the pass, catch and run, “Belue to Scott” has been lionized in perpetuity without enough high fives for Nat Hudson, who made the play happen.
John Lastinger, another one of those Valdosta quarterbacks, three years later took Georgia 99 yards for a touchdown in one of the most exciting games in the Georgia-Florida series. Georgia won 10-9 with that drive getting a smattering of attention as “The Drive.” Certainly this game would hold rank as “The Drive,” when it comes to the Georgia-Florida series. I’m for bronzing each: “The Block” and “The Drive.” (You might consider “The Drive,” to be the 10-9 win over Texas in the 1984 Cotton Bowl. Lastinger, by the way, ranks both of them as his favorite).
So much attention has been given to Belue to Scott, that it is one of the most fabled plays in Georgia football history. Some rank it the greatest in that it preserved Georgia’s opportunity to win the National Championship of 1980. It would not have happened without Nat making his block.
Georgia had pretty much left it all on the field the week before between the hedges by beating South Carolina in a close game, 13-10. The tank was not empty when the Bulldogs lined up against Florida in the old Gator Bowl on Nov. 8, 1980, but the Dawgs were not sharp in execution. You could tell it. The orange clad troops from Gainesville were primed for a peak game. The Gators finally pulled ahead with a field goal in the fourth quarter and all hopes seemed to vanish when Florida, with a 21-20 lead, punted out of bounds at the Georgia seven yard line. The Gator sideline began to celebrate and a couple of players on the field began to dance the funky chicken.
Then lightening struck. The Orange celebration turned to gloom. On third down, Buck dropped back to throw, looking down field when suddenly a Gator defender was streaking with intent to wind up in Belue’s lap. He would have succeeded if Nat had not peeled off his block at the line of scrimmage and got his shoulder in the Florida defensive lineman’s path. This obstruction of Gator objective by Nat is not a forgotten play with the team and coaches but it has always been overshadowed by the touchdown pass.
Let’s remember “Belue to Scot” with all the Hallelujahs we can summon, but let’s glory in, “The Block,” as well. Let’s heap praise on an alumnus from the trenches, Nat Hudson who played high school football at West Rome. Following his days in Athens, Nat, after a couple of seasons in the NFL with New Orleans, returned home where he remains a hometown celebrity—a man with a championship ring who gets rave notices for his ability to cook. He has the right touch for smoking meat, of any kind, which literally falls off the bone.
Nat can’t talk without laughing. A jolly good fellow if there ever was one, he gloried in the lineman’s work ethic. He gave everything to the team and spoke of the brotherly love which the 1980 Dawgs rode to a championship to a Touchdown Club of Athens audience earlier in the week with his recall of the glory of the past.
“It means more to me than you can imagine when people come up to me and remember my block,” Nat said after the gathering. “It was so inspiring to be a part of one of the greatest plays in Georgia history. Linemen want to be appreciated for their hard work. Only problem is that when you make a block that makes a difference, nobody sees it. I am fortunate that this block was in the backfield where the TV cameras could pick it up. That made me big deal back in Rome.”
If you remember 1980 and all the high moments, you surely remember that when the roll call of the miscreants in the stolen pig caper which resurfaced this year as Scott Woerner was recognized as Georgia’s newest member of the College Football Hall of Fame takes place, Nat’s name is prominently listed on the roster.
“If you are going to kill a pig for a barbecue, you want the best cook,” Woerner said. “Nobody can cook like Nat.”
His cooking makes Nat a lot of friends today, but his best friends are the ones who became tight following a misdeed. “So tight,” Nat says, “it brought us a National Championship.”