It was among the shortest-lived celebrations of the 2016 college football season.
With 19 seconds remaining in Georgia's home game against Tennessee on Oct. 1, the Bulldogs trailed 28-24 and had a first-and-15 at the 47-yard line of the Volunteers. Riley Ridley, a freshman receiver for Georgia whose claim to fame at that point was being the younger brother of Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley, raced down the sideline and slipped past the Tennessee secondary and hauled in a stunning touchdown from Jacob Eason that sent Sanford Stadium into delirium.
The score came with 10 seconds to go.
"When I first saw it, I was like, 'Wow, Riley, it's coming. What are you going to do now?'" Ridley told reporters this week. "I had to catch it. When it got to my hands, I was like, 'Wow, Riley, you just really made something happen,' and I thanked God.
"It was a really nice experience to have, and I thank Jacob for trusting me and throwing it."
Ridley had his heroics quickly overshadowed by the 43-yard touchdown strike from Josh Dobbs to Jauan Jennings that propelled Tennessee to a 34-31 triumph as time expired, but that hardly derailed the season for the 6-foot-2, 197-pounder from Coconut Creek, Fla.facebook
Despite going all of September without a catch, Riley will head to the Liberty Bowl against TCU on Dec. 30 having caught 12 passes for 238 yards and a team-high 19.8 yards per catch. All but one of his receptions occurred at home, with a five-catch, 67-yard showing against Vanderbilt and a three-catch, 89-yard performance against Auburn comprising his busiest games.
Georgia first-year coach Kirby Smart was in his eighth and final season as Alabama's defensive coordinator a year ago, when Calvin Ridley set freshman Crimson Tide records with 89 catches for 1,045 yards for the national champions. His 89 receptions also set a Southeastern Conference record for freshmen.
The younger Ridley first committed to South Carolina but decided to switch SEC locales, signing with Georgia and enrolling early.
"They're both fun-loving kids, and they both love to practice," Smart said during the regular season when asked about the Ridleys. "They always have smiles on their faces. They compete hard."
Alabama visited Georgia last season and applied a 38-10 thumping, but the only way the two Ridleys could meet on the field would be in an SEC title game. Whether that ever happens won't be known until next season plays out, but in the meantime, the two brothers will be in continual communication.
"We talk every day," the younger Ridley said. "We talk about all sorts of things, like what I can do to be a better receiver. He gives me feedback and asks me if I'm learning the plays.
"It's a beautiful thing to have my brother by my side."
Smart was asked Tuesday in a news conference to address the situation of Houston high school running back Toneil Carter, who committed to Georgia and planned to enroll early but allegedly was told there was no room after Nick Chubb and Sony Michel elected to return for their senior seasons. Carter switched his commitment Monday from the Bulldogs to Texas.
"I'm not allowed to talk about that situation at all," Smart said, "but I will say that my philosophy and our philosophy has always been that we're not going to drop kids in recruiting. We may defer enrollment, but we're not going to drop kids in recruiting."
Odds and ends
Smart said junior safety Dominick Sanders and redshirt junior cornerback Aaron Davis have not decided whether or not to return next year.... The Bulldogs will hold their final on-campus practice this morning before taking time off. They will report to Memphis on Christmas evening and work out Monday morning at Rhodes College.... Smart is more hopeful of having Natrez Patrick (shoulder) than Reggie Carter (hyperextended knee) at inside linebacker for the bowl game, adding that Tae Crowder, a converted running back, and Juwan Taylor will have to step up alongside Roquan Smith.
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