Top Play number four may arouse some unpleasant memories in most of you. If you're like me, you'll still feel the lingering effects of what could possibly be the most heartbreaking loss in Georgia Tech history when you remember this play. It is a strange feeling, almost paradoxical; when I recall this play, I remember how hopeful it made me feel, standing in the North end zone along my brothers and sisters in white and gold. Yet looking back upon it, I am left feeling empty and sad. I can only hope that you are not like me, and that you will be able to enjoy this play for what it was, and not what became of it.
As a Tech fan, this play is the embodiment - nay, the physical manifestation - of pure joy. The look in the crowd's eyes as they beheld it, the frenzied roar that arose from the stands as it happened; all representations of what it truly means to be a Yellow Jacket. When Darren Waller pulled in that prayer from Vad Lee early in the first quarter on that cold, fall day in late November, a chord of hope and rightness resonated throughout Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Jackets had just landed a right hook to the chops on the ugly mug of the loathsome bulldogs from Athens. And it wouldn't be the last.
In that moment, the barking stopped. And all was well.
The Situation: The game is only two plays old. After two unsuccessful plays on offense, the Jackets are faced with 3rd and 8 from their own 26. It's way too early to tell how the game is going to go, but already, a worried feeling hangs in the air. Not even a minute in to the game, and the Jackets are looking like they're going to give the ball back to georgia after receiving the opening kick.
The Play: Vad Lee lines up under center, flanked by A-backs Robbie Godhigh and Synjyn Days. Waller and Smelter are out wide to his left and right, respectively. Synjyn comes in motion before the snap.
When the ball is snapped, georgia sells out to stop the run, bringing six into the backfield. Robbie takes off to the middle of the field and has a window. Vad fakes the give to B-back David Sims and drops back, looking to pass. Sims picks up a block to the left side of the offensive line, cutting down georgia LB Ramik Wilson in his tracks. Another georgia LB, Leonard Floyd, is brought to the ground as well by Days.
These excellent blocks give Vad a few extra seconds in the pocket to look downfield. However, georgia LB Amarlo Herrera comes flying through the OL with a head full of steam and is not picked up by a blocker.
As the blitzing linebacker barrels forward, Vad keeps his composure, plants his feet, and lets go a beauty before getting drilled by Herrera. The ball is in the air for 45 yards until it finds its resting point in the outstretched arms of Waller, who was fresh off of smoking georgia CB Sheldon Dawson like a sausage and has a step or two of space on him.
Waller reels it in around the georgia 37 yard line and is off to the races. Dawson manages to grab ahold of Waller's jersey around the 20 but is unable to wrestle the much bigger and stronger receiver to the ground until the five.
This play ultimately set up a touchdown which would be the first of many in the first half for the Jackets. And while the game might not have ended up the way it should have, we showed one thing: that when our stadium is rocking and our athletes are feeling it, they are near impossible to stop. And georgia is by no means an unbeatable team.
What's your favorite play from a Georgia Tech-georgia game? Join us tomorrow for Play #3 in our countdown!