1986 Hall of Fame Bowl

The Hall of Fame Bowl became the first major bowl game held in the Tampa Bay area and the first college bowl game held at Tampa Stadium. It was hoped the University of Florida, comming off two years NCAA probation, would be one of the participants. When Florida lost its season finale to Kentucky and finished 6-5, bowl officials had to look elsewhere. They managed to bring Boston College and the University of Georgia to town for a Tuesday night game. The Mizlou Network paid $200,000 to syndicate the game and each team received the NCAA minimum payout of $500,000. The Boston College Eagles, coached by Jack Bicknell, and the Georgia Bulldogs, coached by Vince Dooley, were unranked and brought 8-3 records to the game. Everything was in place for the first Hall of Fame Bowl in Tampa.

photo One thing that bowl organizers could not control was the weather. It rained all day, and continued to rain through the evening, which put a damper on the walk-up crowd. Official attendance was 41,000, which was the number of tickets distributed, but the actual number of people in the stands was around 25,000. The weather canceled plans for a halftime concert by James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. The game itself turned out to be an exciting back-and-forth contest.

Georgia running back James Jackson opened the scoring with a 7 yard first quarter touchdown run. With running back Troy Stradford rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown, Boston College came back to build a 20-7 advantage. In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs recaptured the lead 24-20 on another Jackson TD run. A critical pass interference call gave the Eagles a first and ten at the Georgia 17 yard line with :51 left on the clock. BC quarterback Shawn Halloran hit receiver Kelvin Martin on a 5 yard pass in the end zone, with 32 seconds left, for the winning touchdown. The Eagles won 27-24, their eighth straight victory. Halloran was 31 of 52 for 316 yards and he threw for two touchdowns. Georgia's Gary Moss returned a pass interception 81 yards for touchdown and was named co-Most Valuable Player with teammate James Jackson. Bicknell said of the victory, "What this means is we can line up and play with anyone."

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