Looking back: This week in Georgia sports history

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Tommy Nobis on the sidelines in 1966. AJC file photo

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Tommy Nobis on the sidelines in 1966. AJC file photo

1966: Falcons linebacker Tommy Nobis

The Tommy Nobis era began with the Falcons  50 years ago in a bruising game on Sept. 18 in Philadelphia against the Eagles. The Falcons lost 23-10 at old Franklin Field. Their only touchdown was a 21-yard catch by Alex Hawkins on a pass from quarterback Randy Johnson. But Nobis introduced himself to the NFL and while there were no official tackling statistics found for that game, reports had Nobis collecting as many as 15 individual tackles and 25 combined tackles against a very good Eagles ground game.

“Back then,’’ said Nobis, “we were an expansion teams and I got a lot of chances to make tackles.’’

Nobis, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft and No. 5 choice in the AFL in December 1965,  would have a sensational first season with a team-record 294 combined tackles (unofficially believed to be the most ever by a player in NFL history).

Nobis played 11 years in the NFL and many feel like he belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is the only Falcons player ever to wear No. 60, as the number was the first retired by the franchise.

Nobis was also drafted by the Houston Oilers of the AFL. Frank Borman, who was an astronaut aboard Gemini 7, sent a message back to Earth to “tell Nobis to sign with Houston.’’ Thankfully for Atlanta fans, he went with the Falcons.

1972: High school coaching legend Larry Campbell

On Sept. 15, 1972, Larry Campbell got his first win of his head coaching career, coming at Lincoln High School where he would stay for 42 years. The win was a 27-10 beating of Warren County and Lincoln would finish 3-7 that season. From there, Campbell never had another losing season and in 2013 retired with a record of 477-85-3, 11 state titles and 33 region championships. Campbell also had eight undefeated seasons and 31 with 10 or more wins. His victories are the most in the state by a head coach, 125 more than the next coach, Robert Davis. Now 66, Campbell is third on the win list nationally and  told the AJC when he retired that “I think age had more to do with the decision than anything. “I still enjoy the game and enjoy coaching and feel that I could continue, but after 44 years in one school system, it’s time. It’s been a good run.’’ The stadium at Lincoln is named after Campbell.

1987: Bobby Ross at Georgia Tech

In his first season at Georgia Tech, Bobby Ross won his first game, a 51-12 blowout of The Citadel and came back the next week on Sept. 19 to face North Carolina at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Yellow Jackets pulled out to a three-touchdown lead, but behind Mark Maye’s 406 passing yards and Randy Marriott’ school single-game record 247 receiving yards, the Tar Heels came back and won 30-23. From there, Tech lost eight of their last nine games, beating only Indiana State. The Jackets went 3-8 the next season before Ross had the ship righted and they won a national championship in 1990.

 1993: Greg Maddux and the Braves

On Sept. 18 as the Braves and Giants were in a great NL West race, Greg Maddux faced the New York Mets, at the time the worst team in the league. The Braves led 2-0 going into the ninth inning and Maddux got the first two batters of the inning on strikeouts. But he then gave up two straight singles and walked the bases loaded and closer Greg McMichael could not hold the lead as the Mets tied the game and won in 10 innings. But the loss seemed to ignite the Braves. In the next two games against the Mets and Montreal, they scored a total of 29 runs to give the Braves a 3 ½-game lead in the division over San Francisco. They would eventually win 104 games , one more than the Giants.

2013: Bulldogs beat Clowney, Gamecocks

"Aaron played a pretty good game. He threw it quick and ran it away from me the whole game,'' South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney said about Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray after the 11th-ranked Bulldogs beat the No. 6 Gamecocks. Murray threw for 309 yards and four touchdowns and helped change the reputation that he couldn't win big games.  Said Murray, who came into the game with a 1-6 record against top-10 teams, on the importance of the game for himself personally: "It was a lot of fun. It's definitely up there.'' Clowney finished with three tackles and one sack as the Bulldogs beat the Gamecocks for the first time in four seasons.