Originally created 11/04/02

Edwards drop symbolizes night of lost chances for Georgia



JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Terrence Edwards cut to his right, sending a Florida defender to the ground. As he broke into the clear, he turned to find the ball and wipe away a night of lost opportunities for Georgia.

Instead, the final chance slipped away.

Edwards dropped a probable touchdown pass with 2 1/2 minutes left to finish off the No. 5 Bulldogs, whose title hopes were dashed - at least for now - by a 20-13 loss to Florida on Saturday night.

Georgia (8-1) can still earn a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game by beating Mississippi and Auburn the next two weeks. But this one hurt. Real bad.

Senior lineman Jon Stinchcomb had tears in his eyes, but no one was hurting more than Edwards, a senior who has played the best football of his career this season. Along the way, he broke most of the school's receiving records.

Now, he'll also be remembered as Georgia's own version of Bill Buckner.

"You hate to see the game come down to one play like that," coach Mark Richt said. "The game wasn't won or lost with that play. It would have helped, though."

Compounding Edwards' misery, he got word right after the game that his mother - watching the game from the stands - had been taken to the Alltel Stadium medical facility after she passed out.

Jeannette Edwards was then taken to Baptist hospital, where she was still undergoing medical tests early Sunday morning to determine what caused her to faint.

"Right as the game ended, she stood up and fell right back on me," said Terrence's father, Robert Edwards. "She's coherent now."

Terrence Edwards went to the hospital with his mother and was then picked up there by the team for the return flight home.

Some of Edwards' teammates consoled him before he left for the hospital.

"We told him to keep his head up," linebacker Tony Gilbert said. "The last thing we need is for him to have his head down, thinking he lost the game."

There were plenty of mistakes to go around. D.J. Shockley threw an interception that was returned for a Florida touchdown. George Foster committed a silly personal foul. Billy Bennett missed two field goals. Most damaging, the Bulldogs didn't move the chains on any of their third-down plays, going 0-for-13.

But Edwards' drop is likely to be the mistake that everyone remembers.

With 2:31 remaining, Georgia got the ball at its own 31, facing its last real chance to send the game to overtime.

Edwards broke free after faking out safety Guss Scott, who slipped to the ground. David Greene lofted a perfect pass down the middle of the field, where Edwards awaited near the Florida 30. No one was within 10 yards of the receiver.

Edwards stuck out his hands to bring down the pass, but the ball slipped out of his grasp as he tumbled to the ground. He bounced up, this time throwing his hands in the air in disbelief.

"Oh, man," said cornerback Bruce Thornton, who was watching from the sideline. "He made a beautiful move on No. 9 (Scott). Terrence catches that ball 10 out of 10 times in practice. I know he thinks he should have made that catch."

Three plays later, Georgia lost the ball on downs. The Bulldogs got it back one more time with 36 seconds left, but that wasn't nearly enough time to put together a scoring drive.

"Terrence ran a great route and got himself open. The line did a great job," Greene said. "But that (drop) was the kind of things holding us back all day long."

The loss likely knocked Georgia out of the national championship race. And if the Bulldogs lose to either Ole Miss or Auburn, they could blow their hopes of ending a 20-year drought since their last SEC championship.

If that happens, Edwards' drop will take on even more significance in Georgia annals.

"We all made mistakes today," said Stinchcomb, his eyes red and moist. "No one should hold his head any lower than anyone else. This is a team sport. I hope people don't highlight one play and say it lost the game for us."