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Looking Ahead While Looking Back: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, 1942

Since the departure of Kyle Weblog, I have been going through Georgia football history withdrawal. I figured I would attempt to take Dawg Sports readers on an excursion throughout the glorious history of our program, but with a bit of a twist. I plan on launching a series where we will go through the 2013 football schedule with yours truly selecting a past memorable game against each foe, provided there has been one.

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The hottest ticket in 1940s Athens via georgiatechticketstubs.com

Saturday, November 28, 1942

Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA

Georgia: 34, Georgia Tech: 0

As you may already know, the Georgia Bulldogs didn't always beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in football. Until Tech left the SEC in 1963, they were actually quite competitive in league play. 1942 was one of those years. At 9-0 in 1942, the second-ranked Yellow Jackets made the trip to Athens to face the fifth-ranked Bulldogs at 9-1, setting up the biggest game between the in-state foes since 1927, when the Jackets spoiled the Bulldogs' perfect season and erased any Red and Black hopes of a trip to the Rose Bowl.

The 1942 showdown between the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets had tremendous national implications and was tremendously hyped by the national and local media. The Atlanta Constitution wrote at the time that, "Minds were all focused on one thing- to see at any cost the greatest regular season football attraction in the history of the Southeastern Conference." The winner of the 37th meeting between these teams would be guaranteed the opportunity to represent the eastern part of the country in the Rose Bowl, which also meant a shot at the national championship, or at least a share of it.

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Likely anachronistic for 1942, but timeless in its own right via shop.47straightposters.com

In the days leading up to the game, Tech Head Coach Bill Alexander fell ill. This resulted in Bobby Dodd, Coach Alexander's leading assistant, taking the white and gold reins for the showdown in Between the Hedges. Meanwhile in Athens, 8,000 extra seats were constructed at Sanford Stadium to better meet the insane ticket demand around town. Hype surrounded the Classic City as the Bulldogs prepared for their biggest clash with Tech in 15 years. Ed Danforth of the Atlanta Journal described the pregame atmosphere: "Starting early in the morning, the invasion of Athens began and every road leading into the beautiful university city groaned beneath the land... Thousands of people began arriving in automobiles whose rationed gas has been saved for months."

It turned out that all the hype was for naught. This was an absolute blowout almost from the beginning.

I say almost because Georgia's George Poschner actually fumbled on the opening kickoff, giving Tech the ball at the Bulldog 36, leaving many to think the Jackets would snatch an early lead. The Georgia defense held and the ball was given to halfback/quarterback Frank "Fireball" Sinkwich, wide receiver Lamar "Racehorse" Davis and the heralded Bulldog offense. They just don't do nicknames like they used to...

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"Fireball Frankie" Sinkwich via www.natesdawgs.com


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Lamar "Racehorse" Davis via graphics.fansonly.com

The Tech defense forced a punt, which sailed into the end zone. The bright lights now shined on Tech standout Clint Castleberry, but the freshman was picked off by Sinkwich (yes, he played defense, too) at the Tech 37. On the ensuing Bulldog drive, Georgia's other superstar halfback/quarterback Charley Trippi found Van Davis on a 17-yard touchdown pass.

Georgia then started piling on, scoring on the next drive that covered 92 yards in just 11 plays. Just like that, the home team led 14-0. The Bulldogs knocked on the door the next time they got the ball, but a 60-yard drive ended in Castleberry's opportunistic hands. Tech then drove up the field, but was ultimately forced to punt. Taking over at the Georgia 13, Trippi ran 87 yards for another touchdown. Kicker Leo Costa missed the point after, but Georgia now held a comfortable 20-0 lead heading into intermission.

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Charley Trippi via www.georgiatrend.com

At halftime, the Georgia band made the already hysterical fans go even crazier with a rendition of California, Here I Come.

The Bulldogs added two more touchdowns in the third quarter. On the first scoring play, Trippi hooked up with Van Davis, who had caught the first two Georgia TD passes, on a 42-yard bomb. No Georgia football player had scored three TDs in one game since the great Bob McWhorter in 1912. The Bulldogs scored again just moments later when Clyde Ehrhardt picked off a GT pass and found the endzone from 27 yards out. Costa put the icing on the cake for a final score of 34-0.

The Jackets were still in search of their first win in Sanford Stadium, constructed in 1929.

Immediately after the triumphant humbling of Georgia Tech, Coach Wally Butts officially accepted UGA's Rose Bowl bid. Moments later, Frank Sinkwich was informed that he would be awarded the 1942 Heisman Trophy, winning the award by the largest plurality in the trophy's eight years of existence.

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Sinkwich receives the 1942 Heisman Trophy in his USMC uniform via georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu

Sinkwich and Trippi accounted for 409 yards in this contest. Trippi ran for 119 and passed for 116, while Sinkwich racked up 72 yards on the ground and 102 yards in the air. "Frankie Fireball" in three games against Tech amassed 405 passing yards and 260 on the ground.

Leo Costa scored in 33 straight games from 1940-42, an NCAA record at the time. He converted nine extra-point attempts in his three games against Tech.

Both coaches spoke highly of the opposition. Dodd described the 1942 Bulldogs as "the greatest team in America," while Butts had this to say about the Jackets, "We caught Tech when they were down... Tech is a much better team than it showed today. But we will try to win [the Rose Bowl] for both of us- and for the whole state of Georgia."

To date, this was the biggest Saturday in the history of Georgia football. Matters were sweetened by the news of top-ranked Boston College falling to Holy Cross earlier that day. Had the #2 Jackets prevailed in Athens that day, they would have clinched the 1942 national championship. Since Tech had cost the undefeated Georgia team of 1927 their shot at the crown, it was poetic justice at its finest.

The 1942 football season might have belonged to Frank Sinkwich, but the 1942 Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate game ball belongs to Charley Trippi, who accounted for 235 yards in the game and overwhelmed the Jackets on both sides of the ball. Trippi, a two-time All-American at UGA, left Athens for the 1943-44 seasons to serve in the military during World War II and returned in 1945. He won the Maxwell Award in 1946, his final year as a Bulldog. In 1947, Trippi played a season of minor league baseball for the Atlanta Crackers, hitting .334 in 106 games.

Later that year, Trippi landed with the Chicago Cardinals (now in Arizona) and helped the team to the 1947 NFL Championship, totaling 206 yards (with 102 on punt returns) in the championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Trippi scored two touchdowns in the game: one on a 44-yard run and the other on a 75-yard punt return. In nine years with the Cardinals, he played a multitude of positions: left halfback, quarterback, defense, punter and punt returner.

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Trippi in his NFL days with the Cardinals via 1.bp.blogspot.com

Charley Trippi graduated from UGA in 1951 with a BS in education and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1965 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968. Trippi is the only Pro Football Hall of Famer with 1,000 yards of receiving, 1,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing. In 2007, he was ranked #20 in ESPN's Top 25 Players In College Football History. Trippi's number 62 is one of only four that has been retired by the University of Georgia.

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Trippi strikes a pose in Athens via images.morris.com

Trippi, now 91, lives in Athens with his second wife, Margaret. He had three children with his first wife, Virginia, who passed away in 1971: Charles, Jr., Brenda and Jo Ann. He is a frequent guest of honor at UGA football-related events, most recently G-Day and the 2012 season opener.

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Charley and Margaret Trippi were guests of the Cardinals at Super Bowl XLIII via www.azcardinals.com

Please join me in raising a paw to Charley Trippi and the 1942 Georgia Bulldogs for delivering an epic performance in a crucial game on November 28, 1942, a game I consider the best ever played against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

What are some of your favorite Tech games from years' past? Please share in the comments below.

1942 Season Epilogue...

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1943 Rose Bowl program via members.tripod.com


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UGA's Willard Boyd blocks a punt in the 1943 Rose Bowl, leading to a safety via latimesphoto.files.wordpress.com

The Bulldogs went on to the Rose Bowl to face the UCLA Bruins and returned to Athens with a 9-0 victory and a share of the 1942 national championship.

On a Closing Note...

This concludes my series. I'd be lying if I said composing these posts was quick and easy, but I have immensely enjoyed the discussions in the comments and have learned a lot from them. I hope you learned a thing or two, as well. Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing your thoughts and memories.

As you might have gathered, I have a deep interest in, and appreciation for, the rich history of the football program at UGA. If there's anything you'd like to see in the future, please share your thoughts below as I am not at all opposed to doing something similar down the road. Thanks again and...

GO DAWGS!

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