Georgia’s Javon Bullard: No more talking about hit on Marvin Harrison

ATHENS — Don’t bother asking Javon Bullard more questions about “The Hit” on Marvin Harrison. As of Thursday, he’s finished talking about it.

A junior safety from Milledgeville, Bullard fielded one more query about his pass breakup that left Ohio State’s star receiver concussed and forced Harrison to leave the College Football Playoff semifinal against Georgia with the Buckeyes leading in the third quarter.

That question came up again after the Bulldogs completed their first practice of preseason camp Thursday morning. It was delivered a day after Harrison told reporters in Columbus, Ohio, he believed the Buckeyes would have beaten Georgia had he not been forced to sit out the remainder of the game.

Of course, the Bulldogs came from behind in the fourth quarter to win 42-41, then defeated TCU 65-7 in the CFP Championship game to claim their second consecutive national title.

“That play happened in December, and you’re still talking about it. That’s really not my fault,” Bullard said, shaking his head and laughing. “We’ve moved on from that. We played a game after that. We’re going into another season. That play’s over, man.”

Indeed, it is long over, but there’s no denying how pivotal the play was to the outcome of that contest. With 43 seconds remaining in third quarter, the Buckeyes led 35-24 and were looking to go ahead by three scores facing third-and-goal at the Georgia 7.

Under heavy pressure from the Bulldogs’ pass rush, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud backpedaled and delivered a floater for Harrison crossing from the right sideline to the middle of the end zone on the back line. Bullard left his man to follow the ball for Harrison, who once again had eluded the coverage of cornerback Kelee Ringo.

Bullard and the ball arrived at the same time. His shoulder-first hit on Harrison jarred the ball loose. Initially ruled a targeting foul, the penalty was overruled by video review. Ohio State Ryan Day complained from the sideline, in postgame interviews and whenever asked about it since then that the Pac-12 officials got the call wrong.

Credit: Chip Towers

Nevertheless, the Buckeyes kicked a field goal to go ahead 38-24 with 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Bulldogs outscored Ohio State 18-3 in the fourth quarter to claim the victory, which was not assured until the Buckeyes missed a last-second 50-yard field-goal try.

“Yeah I think, you know, a couple plays away from having a totally different story this year,” Harrison told Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com earlier this week. “I think we go on to win that game against Georgia (if he doesn’t have to come out), and I like our chances in the national championship.”

Harrison left the game with five catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns. All of his production came in the first half.

Bullard was named defensive MVP of that game and in the win over TCU in the championship game in Los Angeles nine days later. In March, the hit on Harrison landed Bullard an NIL deal with the Alumni Cookie Dough store in Athens, which produced a concoction in his honor called “Bullard’s Buckeye Crunch.”

Playing nickel back at the time for the Bulldogs, Bullard has moved to safety for this his junior season, and Georgia’s going for a third consecutive national championship. That’s unprecedented in the poll era of college football.

To him, the hit on Harrison is ancient history.

“To be honest, I don’t have too much to say about it,” he concluded. “It’s over and done with, and we’re looking ahead and preparing ourselves for camp.”

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart celebrates with defensive MVP defensive back Javon Bullard after Georgia’s 42-41 win against Ohio State in the Peach Bowl Playoff Semifinal, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Sat., Dec. 31, 2022, in Atlanta. Bullard was named defensive MVP of the Peach bowl, and of the championship game win over TCU. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com