Even Lance Austin said he was surprised when, instead of handing the ball of Nick Chubb or Sony Michel, Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason dropped back to pass on second-and-8 at the 40-yard line with his team leading 27-21 in the fourth quarter.
Eason’s pass was tipped by receiver Terry Godwin, and it bounced right to Austin, who made the tough interception at the 46-yard line.
“A little bit (surprised),” Austin, a junior said. “They had a good time running the ball, but I’m not complaining.”
With renewed life, the Yellow Jackets needed eight plays to score the game-winning touchdown on Qua Searcy’s 6-yard run and defeat the Bulldogs 28-27 for the second consecutive time in Athens, the first time Tech has done that since 1998 and 2000.
Austin said Tech was in zone coverage, but he thinks Eason thought the Yellow Jackets were going to play man-to-man. That coverage would have been surprising considering how well the Bulldogs were running the ball between the tackles. Georgia finished with 263 rushing yards, the second-most against Tech this season.
“It was a quick out, and we thought we had to look we wanted,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “We thought we could advance the ball, get two more first downs and run the clock out.”
Austin has come up with a lot of big plays for Tech’s defense this season. He recovered a fumble that later led to a touchdown in the upset of Virginia Tech. He returned an interception for a touchdown in the win against Virginia the next week. He famously returned the blocked field-goal attempt for the touchdown that upset previously unbeaten Florida State last season.
“Thank goodness that he caught that deflection,” Johnson said. “It went right to him, but it was a tough catch. He’s made a lot of good plays for us this year.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.