Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Facing 'Dogs Brought out Best in Jackson; Gators Wide Receiver Played Key Role in Consecutive Victories

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Facing 'Dogs Brought out Best in Jackson; Gators Wide Receiver Played Key Role in Consecutive Victories

Article excerpt

Byline: Hays Carlyon

GAINESVILLE | There once was a time when Georgia dominated its rivalry with Florida.

Willie Jackson Jr. was on the front line in helping shift control of the series to the Gators. The former Florida receiver played a huge role in UF's 26-24 win over Georgia on Oct. 31, 1992, in front of 82,429 fans. He caught seven passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.

The victory was Florida's third consecutive in the series, the first time the Gators had achieved the feat since a four-game run from 1960-63.

Nearly 20 years have passed since Jackson led the 20th-ranked Gators past No. 7 Georgia. However, the Bulldogs still haven't managed to wrestle the rivalry's momentum away from their primary foe. Georgia has not beaten Florida in consecutive games since 1989 and is 4-18 against the Gators since 1990. Prior to 1990, Georgia led the series 44-22-2.

"I grew up a Gators fan watching Georgia dominate us," said Jackson, a Gainesville native who played at UF from 1991-93.

"It was amazing to me, the success we were having against them back when I played. I was used to Florida getting off to a strong start and then Georgia would just ruin it for us. That's what always happened when I was a kid,'' Jackson said. "To see where the rivalry is now, it is an accomplishment for the guys that we got control of things."

Florida was the spoiler in 1992. The Gators had already lost at Tennessee and at Mississippi State. Georgia entered the game 7-1 and could've clinched the first-ever SEC East title with a win. As it turned out, Florida's victory coupled with South Carolina's upset of Tennessee the same day allowed the Gators to claim the East and play in the first SEC championship game. Florida would win the first five East titles.

"We expected to play in the SEC title game," Jackson said. "When the schedule was released, the SEC title game was already there on it. …

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