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Taylor Cagle's induction into the University of Georgia Bulldogs fandom came at an early age.

It happened when she was 6 months old, to be exact.

That was how old Cagle, now 24, was when she was taken to her first UGA football game. She later attended Georgia, and was a student there when the Bulldogs previously played Alabama for the national championship four years ago before graduating from the school in 2020.

"It's been a long hard road for me and I'm just really happy," Cagle said about the Bulldogs winning the 2021 national championship, in another matchup against Alabama, Monday night.

But, despite growing up a Bulldog fan, she was still trying to wrap her mind around what she saw happen on TV Monday night more than hour after Georgia won its first national championship in football in just over four decades.

UGA's newest football national championship had fans buzzing with excitement in the early morning hours on Tuesday.

Cagle and her husband, Dylan, didn't waste time getting shirts that touted the Bulldogs as the 2021 college football national champions. They were among a few hundred UGA fans who headed to Academy Sports+Outdoors in Buford immediately after the game ended to buy national championship merchandise in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

"It doesn't even feel real," Taylor Cagle said as she waited in line. "I feel like the thing that's been going through my mind is I'm finally crying tears of joy versus the tears of sorrow that I've cried for so long over this team."

Theresa and Marvin Hightower didn't waste time buying national championship gear at Academy early Tuesday morning either. Theresa was a student at UGA when it won the 1980 national championship, and Marvin had just graduated from UGA a year before that.

The couple said their entire family was cheering as they watched the Bulldogs capture what is only UGA's third football national championship in team history.

"It's been a tremendously long time and there's been a lot of heartbreak given the ways that we've lost opportunities to win the national championship in the past and that's why this is so great," Marvin said.

Like the Cagles, the Hightowers were eager to get championship gear as soon as possible. They drove from Lithonia to the Buford store and were among the last customers to get in the door before the store closed for the night.

"We have to celebrate," Theresa said. "We're not going to sleep. We're headed now to the store to wait for the paper to come out."

Officials at Academy estimated just over 350 UGA fans flocked to the Buford store after the game ended at about midnight just to be among the first people to buy national championship shirts, sweatshirts, pennants, hats and other memorabilia.

The turnout early Tuesday morning was higher than what the store saw when it reopened immediately to sell Braves world championship gear immediately after after the final game of the World Series in the fall, according to store officials.

"It's SEC football," said David McGaha, a manager at the Buford store, about the bigger demand for Bulldogs gear than Braves championship gear. "I just think football is a lot bigger in this area than baseball."

The people who flocked to Academy in the middle of the night were not the only UGA fans who were over the moon about the national championship.

Local legislators from Gwinnett were also expressing enthusiasm about the win.

"Amazing, resilient team. Go Dawgs," state Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, said in a Twitter post.

State Rep. Donna McLeod, D-Lawrenceville, proclaimed, "Victory #GoDawgs #CFP National #Championship," on her Facebook page.

State Rep. Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, threw in a throwback reference to the special Coke bottles produced after UGA won the 1980 national championship.

"GO DAWGS," she said in a Facebook post. "I'm getting a new Coke!!!"

This article originally ran on gwinnettdailypost.com.

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