Bedlam at Bobby Dodd Stadium: Georgia Tech upsets No. 9 Florida State on final play, 22-16
Atlanta, Georgia – Chris Harken (Miami, O.), Ron (LSU), and I were overwhelmed by a crush of white-out wearing Georgia Tech fans as Yellow Jacket DB Lanced Austin returned a blocked FG attempt by Robert Aguayuo and returned it 78 yards on the last play in regulation for the game-winning touchdown to upset No. 9 Florida State, 22-16. The three of us lost track of each other though standing next to one another ten rows off the end zone where Austin crossed the goal line in a shocker of a play. Chris’s new cell phone was broken and lost briefly in all Georgia Tech exuberance. After the game, Ron commented, “You know, we were probably a broken arm away from spending the rest of the evening together in some emergency ward!” Aside from Chris’s broken cell phone that bounced into a bag of souvenir shirts and he eventually found under the seats of fans in front of us, we survived the deserved, unexpected, explosive mayhem around us. After the frenzy, we were astonished and amazed to have witnessed such a comeback victory by the Rambling Wrecks, very reminiscent of the Auburn field goal return in their big win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl two seasons ago. Tech (3-5, 1-4) knocked FSU (6-1, 4-1) off its unbeaten pedestal and out of the Top Ten to No. 17. What Collegefootballfan.com picked as a game to attend before the season started figuring it would have a bearing on both squads trying to qualify for the 2015 College Football Playoff did not live up to that anticipation. Instead, for what some pundits dubbed as “Upset Saturday”, we had 10th row seats along the end zone to see that become reality right in front of us when Austin amazingly crossed the line for the final score. What sport is more exciting during its regular season than the short, hard-fought season of college football?
FSU PK Robert Aguayo, who fell victim of to the ultimate block of his 55-yard scoring attempt, posted State with a 3-0 lead in the first period with his 20-yard FG following an interception of a tipped Justin Thomas pass by Freshman DE John Sweat at GT’s 19. On Tech’s ensuing possession, Harrison Butker impressed with a 53-yard FG to tie the score before moving on into the second period.
After Tech HC Paul Johnson called his team’s second time-out of the half early in the second period, it seemed to be a waste as Thomas’s pass on the next play was intercepted by DB Lamarcus Brutus who returned it 57 yards to Georgia Tech’s two. Dalvin Cook (17 carries for 82 yards, 1 TD) scored from there on the next play for a 10-3 Florida State Seminole lead. Aguayo tacked on three more with a 27-yard FG. Tech returned the kickoff out to the 36, but an illegal block set them back on their six. Thomas (4 of 10 passing, 67 yards, 2 INTs; 67 yards rushing) connected to WR Ricky Lejeune for his only catch of the day for 33 yards. From the 40, Thomas ran the option right and raced around the Seminoles basically untouched for a 60-yard TD, the break through the Georgia Tech Homecoming crowd was waiting for. Tech trailed, 13-10. Under pressure from DT Antonio Simmons, FSU QB Everett Golson (20 for 30, 210 yards, 1 INT) threw an incomplete pass to force a field goal attempt. With six seconds remaining in the half, Aguayo split the uprights to give the Seminoles a 16-10 lead at the intermission.
Georgia Tech celebrated its Homecoming at halftime. We realized that for the second season in a row, we attended a Homecoming game with Florida State visiting as a ranked and undefeated nemesis! Last year, we saw them defeat Syracuse as their Homecoming opponent. Generally in the past, the Homecoming opponent was normally some struggling, long-time patsy to invite for the Homecoming “feast”. With midseason conference play well under way, those games are fairly too elusive to schedule, unless it’s in the SEC where Vanderbilt is usually on call (see Mizzou vs. Vandy yesterday) if not some FCS team or Sun Belt alternative.
In the third period the Yellow Jackets controlled the clock on its first possession (as it did the entire game 34:51 to 25:09), and Butker, who booted every kickoff for a touchback, finished the drive with a 40-yard FG. Tech drove the ball down to the FSU 28 as the third period expired trailing now, 16-13.
After Tech punted, the Seminoles started its drive from the 26. Down to the ten yard line on a third and goal, Golson fired a pass over the middle where DB Lawrence Austin tipped it up and Jamal Golden picked it off in the end zone for a touchback. Following exchanges of punts, Tech started again from its 37. On fourth and six from Tech’s 41, Thomas completed a 36-yard pass along the right sideline to Freshman WR Brad Stewart for his only catch of the day and a key first down. With: 54 left remaining in regulation, Butker tied the score, 16-16 with a 35-yard FG. As usual, the ‘Noles started from the 25 thanks to another Butker touchback. FSU worked the sidelines and the clock to get to Tech’s 38. An incompletion near the sideline brought Aguayo out to attempt his 55-yarder. DB Corey Griffin knocked the ball out of mid-air. Lance Austin hesitated to pick it up on the right hash mark at his 22, sprinted left, picked up some great blocks, and brought bedlam to Bobby Dodd Stadium as time expired for an exciting 22-16 last second victory. College football doesn’t get any better than this (unless you’re from Florida State, of course)!
Next week, HC Paul Johnson vows to run the table starting the rest of the season next week with Tech heading to play Virginia (2-5, 1-2) in Charlottesville. FSU will host Syracuse (3-4, 1-2) at noon in Tallahassee. CFF.com has a great “double-header Saturday” lined up. At noon, we will be in Annapolis after an early tailgate with Brian Donnelly and company to see Navy (5-1, 3-0) host South Florida (4-3, 2-1) for our first American Athletic Conference game we will see the Mids play in. We hope to see Navy QB Keenan Reynolds also make some progress to catch Montee Ball’s NCAA scoring record of 500 points. After that game, we head a couple of hours north to Philly to see now No. 9 Notre Dame (6-1) visit No. 22 Temple (7-0, 4-0) for an 8 pm battle royale at “The Linc” to gain more respect for each in the polls of the upcoming CFP rankings. It’ll be a big weekend preceding our recently announced bye week on November 7. These two games and two more on November 13-14 lead us up to our Game 500 weekend when Rutgers visits Army. The season is speeding along to capture some more thrilling college football moments.
Extra points: met up with Chris and Ron close to the Georgia Tech campus at The Yard House. Great food! Terrible table service and poor management of the screens showing all the games. We thought Auburn – Arkansas was over and the Tigers had won until we saw highlights during another game. And in Atlanta on a college football Saturday, no less.
This was Collegefootballfan.com’s first game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Didn’t get to catch up at any tailgates which are strewn throughout the campus. But thought the Stadium itself and of course the atmosphere there were first-rate.
Three players on the Seminole roster hail from our area in Sussex County, NJ. Back-up QB Sean Maguire of Sparta who played at Seton Hall Prep; starting Junior OT Chad Mavety of Sparta who played for Pope John HS; and redshirt Freshman TE Ryan Izzo from Highland Lakes who also play for PJ. He caught two passes for 27 yards.
Ron, the LSU fan, claims that the “real national championship” will be played on November 7 when LSU plays Alabama. We don’t agree, but we look forward to watching that one on our bye week along with Navy at Memphis in a key AAC Western Division match-up.