The Terry Godwin Catch at Notre Dame Helped Shape Georgia’s Season

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LOS ANGELES — A single play does not shape a 12-win college football regular season on its own. Georgia wide receiver Terry Godwin is the first to stress that point.

“It’s just another play in a game,” Godwin said of the catch.

Now, if you know anything about the No. 3 Bulldogs’ run to the Rose Bowl Game and College Football Playoff, no elaboration is necessary. It’s the catch.

But for the uninitiated, Terry Godwin is responsible for the definitive, highlight-reel moment of Georgia’s 2017 season. On Sept. 9 in a milestone road trip to Notre Dame, the Bulldogs trailed the Fighting Irish, 10-3 in the second quarter.

The Georgia offense had yet to reach the end zone and faced a third down near the goal line. Points came at a premium both before and after the drive; in retrospect, a field goal would have cost Georgia the game, and perhaps its entire College Football Playoff future.

With Notre Dame defensive back Julian Love draped all over him on what could have been flagged as pass interference, Terry Godwin created just enough separation on a fade route to haul in a touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Fromm.

Officials initially called the catch an incompletion; remember this moment before you get carried away lamenting replay review.

Godwin’s grab is now one of the most replayed highlights of the 2017 college football season — as Godwin himself has learned.

“The only time I look at it is when somebody brings it to my attention,” he said. And does that happen often?

“Yes, it does,” he laughed. “Yes it does. I guess for everybody else, it’s a big factor in this year.”

Godwin may downplay the grab as just one among thousands that carried Georgia to its first SEC championship since 2005, the program’s first Rose Bowl since 1943, and on the doorstep of the Bulldogs’ first national championship in almost 40 years. The historic implications are undeniable, however — and Godwin’s teammates are happy to talk up the play’s importance.

“On the field, at that moment, I didn’t know how spectacular it was,” said offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn. “Then to see him make that catch on the jumbotron? It was awesome.”

“It was an important catch for us,” said running back Sony Michel. “It’s about perspective: There are many plays being made, but him making that catch, one hand or not, was important to our season. It put points up on the scoreboard in a close game, and it could have been the difference in whether we win or lose.”

Yes, the catch ultimately was one play among thousands — and the Notre Dame game one win of 12 for the Bulldogs. Considering how Georgia mowed down its competition throughout the campaign, including an SEC Championship Game rematch with the only team to beat the Dawgs, Auburn, the turning point moment of 2017 can be traced to South Bend and the sideline of the end zone.

“You can always look back and think, ‘what if this, what if that.'” But we went out there and played ball and ended up with a W,” Godwin said. “Whatever we’re doing, it’s working. We’re doing it the right way, and whatever Coach [Kirby] Smart’s instilled in us, we’ve just got to keep doing those things right.”

Terry Godwin certainly made that catch right. It’s one play that will live stand out among countless others to live forever in Georgia football lore.