25 Best Moments in The Swamp: No. 5 — Hambrick’s wild ride

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Florida players. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

It was June of 1992 when Steve Spurrier, fresh off Florida’s first official SEC title, called The Sun columnist Mike Bianchi with a new name for the stadium that would eventually bear his name.

The Swamp. 

In the years that followed, there have been some unbelievable games and players. Sun writers Pat Dooley and Robbie Andreu came up with their rankings of the 25 best moments since 1992 when Spurrier gave it that moniker.

No. 5 — Oct. 29, 1994

Hambrick’s wild ride

The set-up: Florida and Georgia were playing the 94th renewal of their series in an unusual place — The Swamp. Because of construction at the Gator Bowl, the game went home and home for two seasons. The first was a rainy night in Gainesville when No. 5 Florida took on the unranked Bulldogs, who had lost four straight to Steve Spurrier. And the Gators rolled earlier thanks in part to a fumble recovery and 62-yard return by Michael Gilmore.

The moment: Georgia quarterback Eric Zeier was trying to bring the Bulldogs back on the last play of the half, but threw into coverage and the ball was tipped up in the air. Linebacker Darren Hambrick caught it at the 19-yard line, broke a couple of tackles and headed to the sidelines. The clock had hit 0:00 when he was confronted by five Georgia players at the 45-yard line, but he eluded them all — while somehow staying in bounds —  and sprinted the rest of the way into the end zone.

The result: Florida’s 31-7 halftime lead was insurmountable and the Gators went on to win 52-14. Florida did win the SEC again, but things did not end well with a loss to FSU in the Sugar Bowl and the dismissal of Hambrick from the team two days before the game because of a bloody fight with a teammate.

The quote: “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that place with as much energy as there was that night. And that was one of the coolest plays ever at The Swamp. It certainly was one of my favorite plays. He was such an incredible athlete and to score on that play was difficult to believe. I think Lawrence Wright might have pushed him back in bounds at one point. That was my favorite game in The Swamp.” — Linebacker James Bates, who later scored on an interception of his own in the rout.

Editor’s note: You have one Swamp game moment that comes to mind? Tell us what it is. Maybe it’s already on our Top 25 list. We’ll update readers on top moments from fans as the countdown proceeds.

12 COMMENTS

  1. The Purple Porpoise. I met my neighbors on July 4 while they were shooting off fireworks. One Auburn fan, one Vol. The only thing they liked about Gainesville was the Purple Porpoise. Or maybe that is all they remembered.

    In the video, skip to about 6:30.

      • The Vols for sure but our record against Auburn is mixed. I remember when we were rivals, Kerwin Bell who could forget. But we haven’t dominated them like we have the Vols in the last 25 years. That is the principal reason I was so eager to get tix to that game this year. I’ll be in The Swamp for that one.

        I have to say, I know the UAA is struggling to find ticket buyers but it sure is a boon for folks like me that cannot be at every game because of distance. I love my Gators Football and so does my son but a 500+ mile trip is a bunch. Their loss is my gain.