Davin Bellamy's account of his game-sealing sack vs. Notre Dame
ByJAKE ROWE 26 minutes ago
Georgia's showdown with Notre Dame in 2017 featured 150 plays from scrimmage. Looking back, two stand out more than the rest.
There was Terry Godwin's improbable five-yard touchdown catch which was initially ruled incomplete but overturned by replay and there was the play that sealed the Bulldogs' 20-19 victory.
That occurred with a little less than a minute and a half in the game when Davin Bellamy beat future first-round pick Mike McGlinchey off the edge and sacked Fighting Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Lorenzo Carter.
With no timeouts left, Notre Dame was forced to watch Jake Fromm kneel it three times and leave with a win.
What those who saw that play probably don't know is that it was in the works well before it happened. It started on Monday of that week when Bellamy accepted the challenge of matching up with one of College Football's top offensive linemen.
"I remember after I saw that he might be the No. 1 tackle in the draft, I knew it was a big opportunity," Bellamy said. "I asked our defensive grad assistant, Wendell (Pierce), to put together clips of all of his losses, all of the plays where he had been beaten or gave up pressure. I looked at those and had our scout team do their pass set like him all week."
That was pretty normal for Bellamy, who relied more on his savvy, technique, and power as a pass rusher than freakish athleticism. He recalls being matched up on the 6-foot-8, 315-pound McGlinchey all game. It was a battle from start to finish, but it was one the Bulldog edge rushers were winning.
Carter recorded a strip sack on Wimbush earlier in the game and forced two fumbles on the night. More often than not, Carter and Bellamy were getting in the signal caller's face when he dropped back to pass. They hit him several times and the pressure was consistent.
Pinning their ears back and pressuring Wimbush wasn't the goal early on according to Bellamy. Going into the game, the focus was on keeping him in the pocket and making him win with his arm. Instead of trying to slip past blocks, the Bulldogs were trying to take them on and make sure they kept their eyes on him. Once they realized that they could accomplish both, it was game on.
One of those hits on Wimbush occurred with a little over seven minutes left in the third quarter and on that particular play, Bellamy learned something.
"The crazy thing about it is I had beaten Mike McGlinchey on the same move in the third quarter," Bellamy said. "It worked clean, and I got a quarterback hit on it, but it wasn't a sack. So I said to myself that I'm going to go back to that move when I really need it... So I already I knew that the move was going to work because I had tried it prior in the third quarter. I just put it in the bag until it was time to bring it out for the closer. You know, like a pitcher's favorite pitch?"
The two teams went back and fourth after the play Bellamy referenced. Notre Dame extended its lead with a field goal, making the score 16-10 and the Bulldogs responded with a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown on the ensuing drive. Sony Michel punched it in from six yards out to give UGA a 17-16 lead.
The Fighting Irish regained the advantage early in the fourth on a 37-yard field goal but the Bulldogs bounced back and took the lead right back with 3.34 left in the game.
Each team exchanged three and outs before a 47-yard punt by Cameron Nizialek put the Fighting Irish at their own 19-yard line with 1:57 left. There was plenty of time for Wimbush to make something happen, even with no timeouts.
Bellamy came on a twist stunt and worked his way across the formation to pressure Wimbush on first down. He almost had the sack but the Notre Dame quarterback was able to fend him off just long enough to throw the ball away. McGlinchey won second down. Bellamy tried a spin move to the inside but was thwarted and Wimbush fired a pass over the middle to Chris Finke that gained 17 yards and a first down.
With a fresh set of downs and the ball at the Fighting Irish 36-yard line, Bellamy reached into his bag. He he came back to the move he used in the third quarter and employed a technique he says he repeated thousands of times on pass-rush dummy in practice.
He came off the ball a little slower than normal, intentionally letting McGlinchey beat him to the spot before delivering a slight fake to the inside and using his outside arm to swat the offensive tackles hands away. Bellamy bent the edge, unloaded on Wimbush, and heard nothing but silence.
Bellamy knew he had just done something big and seconds later he found out how big it was. Wimbush had fumbled, Carter had recovered, and Georgia had won the game.
"What I'll never forget is this was happiest I'd ever seen coach Smart with me, and the reason I'll never forget it because he was really hard on me," Bellamy said. "He wanted to make sure I never got complacent, so he rarely, you know, gave me compliments. He just always wanted to keep me humble, and that was the first time. I don't think he could control it. He hit me on my head like 1,000 times when I was walking to the sideline. He hit me on my head like 1000 times. He was like 'that's what you do, that's what you do, that's what you do!'
"I think coach (Mel) Tucker cried, man. He had tears coming down his face. He was so happy."