It was, to coin a worn-out sportswriter’s phrase, a “comeback of Lazarusian proportions.”
In the second quarter of the October 1, 1994 Georgia at Alabama game, the scoreboard at Bryant-Denny Stadium showed quarterback Eric Zeier and the visiting Georgia Bulldogs leading the Gene Stallings-coached Alabama Crimson Tide 21-7. Things looked dire.
Then, Stallings and offensive coordinator Homer Smith turned Jay Barker loose, as in, let him sling it.
And sling it Jay Barker did. When the dust had cleared and the scoreboard reached all zeroes, Barker had thrown for 396 yards on 26-of-34 passing. He found receiver Toderick Malone behind the Bulldogs secondary twice in the second half – with the victim being current South Carolina coach Will Muschamp—and Bama rallied for a 2928 win in front of a loud and boisterous crowd.
A late field goal by Michael Proctor provided the winning points.
For his efforts, Barker was named the Player of the Week by Sports Illustrated.
To this day, when Muschamp recruits metro Atlanta’s Tucker High School, he and Tucker offensive coordinator Malone joke about how Malone nearly cost Muschamp his starting safety job under then –UGA coach Ray Goff.
After the game, Barker explained, “Everything was kind of like a blur. The offensive line gave me all day to throw the ball. Coach [Homer] Smith continued to say that our offense would explode after the slow start.
“We exploded today.”
Added Malone: “Jay threw the ball exceptionally well and I just caught it.”
Junior kicker Proctor said of his game-winner from 32 yards out with 1:12 to go, “I’ve been waiting three years for this. I wanted the opportunity. We work on this every week at practice.”
That boot capped a Barker-led drive of 38 yards in eight plays and included a Barker scramble to keep it alive.
Zeier threw for four scores and 263 yards in a losing effort, but in his defense, a Bulldog tight end dropped a pass in the fourth quarter that would have been a clock-eating first down. The ensuing punt set up Barker and Proctor’s late heroics.
Something that hasn’t changed since then to now was heard during a conversation after the game between a Tide fan you may know and a distraught Georgia fan: “We’re still Bama and you’re still Georgia.”