JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- D oused with water by his joyous players and carrying his 9-year old son David in his arms , Mark Richt and his Georgia football team finally experienced what it feels like to beat Florida Saturday.
Sweet enough for offensive lineman Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Jones to dance. So satisfying that defensive tackle Kedric Golston jumped up into the west side stands to whoop it up with the Bulldog Nation who filled up half of a stadium-record crowd of 84,753 fans at Alltel Stadium. Even safety Thomas Davis, who left the game in the second quarter with a sprained right knee and ankle, hopped around with glee.
Victory cigars were passed around in the locker room to the coaching staff after 10th-ranked Georgia staved off the Gators' rally and escaped with a 31-24 victory.
"It's awesome," said quarterback David Greene, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns. "It's everything I thought it would be. It stinks that it took until my senior year to beat them. At least I can put that on my resume one day."
The victory also tied Greene with Peyton Manning for most wins by a Division I-A quarterback with 39 wins. More importantly, he's got something that Manning never had, a win over Florida.
The hero was senior wide receiver Fred Gibson, whose 15-yard touchdown catch with 8:37 remaining clinched it.
Gibson said this week he wanted to play like Superman. He about did when he snagged a pass across the middle on a slant pattern for his 18th career touchdown.
"I couldn't believe I caught it, to tell you the truth," Gibson said. "I can't believe the safety didn't take the ball and go back to the other end. I guess he was looking at me the whole time.... I just reached my hands out and caught the football."
Georgia had scored a grand total of three touchdowns against the Gators in Richt's first three games against them. The Bulldogs needed just 18 minutes to find the end zone that many times Saturday.
They scored on their first three possessions against a Florida defense that lost star linebacker Channing Crowder to a first quarter ankle injury.
Six-foot-7 tight end Leonard Pope, had touchdown catches of 27 and 35 yards and freshman tailback Thomas Brown scored on a 5-yard run as the Bulldogs grabbed a 21-7 lead.
Trailing 24-7, Florida rallied within 24-21 and looked like it might pull off a momentous comeback for lame-duck coach Ron Zook. But Georgia sealed it on the next drive.
"I'm glad our fans can come back to the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and won't have to hear the Florida fans run their mouth next time," defensive end David Pollack said.
"At least for 365 days we can say we got the better end of Florida," said Georgia linebacker Arnold Harrison, who played at Josey. "For the last five years I've seen Georgia teams lose to Florida and I've seen the seniors take it the worse. We didn't waste our opportunity. Now this will be with us forever."