Florida defensive end Willie Rodgers sat motionless on the cold metal bench as Georgia players and fans celebrated around him. Rodgers was the last remaining Gator on the field Saturday night. His teammates had left, as had most of the Florida fans after Georgia defeated the Gators 37-17.
The 6-foot-1, 248-pound Rodgers stared straight ahead as intently as if trying to read a quarterback's eyes, but there was nothing to look at. It was just Rodgers and his thoughts.
"It's very disappointing," he said. "It's my senior year and it wasn't supposed to happen like this. It's just unbelievable. I can't believe this could happen. We got back in it and let it slip away."
The Bulldogs moved the ball at will against the nation's 10th-ranked defense. Georgia quarterback Mike Bobo had time to throw. Tailback Robert Edwards had plenty of holes.
Bobo completed 16 of 27 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns. Edwards carried 26 times for 135 yards and four TDs. But some of the biggest plays came from Georgia's wide receivers.
The combination of Hines Ward and Corey Allen were successful against cornerbacks Elijah Williams and Fred Weary most of the afternoon. Allen caught five passes for 116 yards and Ward added seven receptions and 85 yards. Neither player scored, but they set up several touchdowns.
With Georgia leading 7-3 in the second quarter, Bobo hit Allen in stride for a 59-yard gain. Weary was covering on the second-down play.
"That wasn't supposed to happen," linebacker Jevon Kearse said. "But the quarterback wasn't supposed to sit back there and have that much time to throw, either."
Weary, a fifth-year senior and native of Jacksonville, was beaten in two other crucial situations. In the third quarter, with the Gators leading 17-14, Bobo connected with Allen twice on the winning drive. The plays spanned 15 and 23 yards, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Edwards.
The Bulldogs made it 24-17 on their next possession. Georgia drove 58 yards on 13 plays, with the key play a 30-yard pass from Bobo to Ward. Williams was covering on the third-and-3 play.
Williams made the tackle and denied a possible touchdown. But the reception led to a field goal.
The UF secondary was forced to make 26 tackles, and the multidimensional Georgia offense kept the Gators off-balance all game.
"They ran when they wanted to and they threw when they wanted to," safety Teako Brown said. "They pretty much did whatever they wanted to."
And like Rodgers, Williams stared into space, trying to explain the Gators' defensive breakdowns.
"It's the same feeling as the Nebraska game and LSU game," Williams said.
Said defensive end Willie Cohens: "We're all one. I feel their frustration. I feel their pain."
The Bulldogs had lost the past seven games with Florida before defeating the Gators in Jacksonville on Saturday. Here's a look at their past 10 games.
1988: Georgia 26, Florida 3
1989: Georgia 17, Florida 10
1990: Florida 38, Georgia 7
1991: Florida 45, Georgia 13
1992: Florida 26, Georgia 24
1993: Florida 33, Georgia 26
1994: Florida 52, Georgia 14
1995: Florida 52, Georgia 17
1996: Florida 47, Georgia 7
1997: Georgia 37, Florida 17
The Bulldogs, who are 45-29-2 against the Gators, also improved their record against Florida at Jacksonville to 38-26-1.
Gators linebacker Dwayne Thomas helps stop Hines Ward. Thomas later was injured.