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Bulldogs, fans honor Uga VII

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ATHENS -- University of Georgia students led the fans who wore black for Saturday night's game against Kentucky in tribute to the Bulldogs' late mascot, Uga VII.

Uga VII was buried at Sanford Stadium in a private ceremony on Saturday morning. The white English bulldog died Thursday of heart-related causes before he could complete only his second season as Georgia's mascot.

There was a moment of silence for the mascot before the game.

The main student section is behind Uga VII's doghouse, which sat empty for the game on the north sideline.

A large wreath was placed on the doghouse before the game. A poster of the mascot was placed beside the door.

Uga VII, nicknamed "Loran's Best" in honor of author Loran Smith, the longtime sideline reporter on the Georgia radio network, was laid to rest in the mausoleum in the southwest corner of the stadium.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that only university dignitaries, members of the family that owned the mascot and a few members of the media were at the Saturday memorial for the 4-year-old dog. The public was not invited.

Six previous Uga mascots also are entombed in the mausoleum.

Athletic director Damon Evans and University of Georgia president Dr. Michael Adams spoke at the ceremony.

Georgia players wore black dog-bone decals on their helmets. Uga VII's name was on the decals.

The mascot was 16-7 in his two seasons. He followed Uga VI, who was 87-27 from 1999-2007 for the most wins of any in the line of mascots. Uga VI also was the largest of the Uga line at 65 pounds. Uga VII was the second-largest at 561/2 pounds.

The last time Georgia played a game without the live mascot on the field was in the 2000 O'Ahu Bowl in Hawaii. Georgia beat Virginia 37-14 in that game.

Sonny Seiler, whose Savannah-based family owns the Uga line of mascots, said he plans to select Uga VII's successor next year.

It would not be unprecedented if Seiler chose a temporary fill-in for next week's game at Georgia Tech. When Uga IV was sidelined with injured ligaments in his left hind leg, Otto -- who like Uga IV was the son of Uga III -- filled in for four games in the 1986 season.

Otto finished with a 3-1 record and was praised by coach Vince Dooley, who said "I have always had a great affection for those who came off the bench and performed, and he did that and had a great time."

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SENIOR DAY: The only starter on offense among the Georgia seniors honored before the game was quarterback Joe Cox. There were four senior starters on defense: tackles Jeff Owens and Kade Weston, cornerback Prince Miller and free safety Bryan Evans. Geno Atkins, a top backup at defensive tackle, also is a senior.

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WORTH NOTING: Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin left the game in the first quarter with a hip injury. ... Officials kept the time on the field following a clock malfunction in the first quarter. The clock was fixed for the start of the second quarter. .... University of Georgia students have a week off for Thanksgiving. There were reports of heavy traffic in Athens on Friday with students leaving town, and there were patches of empty seats.