Johnson called for Stewart to run a stop-and-go route against cornerback Bryce Hall. Johnson said that Virginia’s corners had been sitting on the short routes all game, so he “was kind of waiting and we caught them at the opportune time there at the end of the game.”
Stewart ran what looked like a 10-yard hitch route, hitting the brakes and beginning to turn back for the pass. Marshall feinted a throw, and Hall bit on the fake, coming out of his backpedal to make a play on the anticipated pass. Stewart then took off, leaving Hall in his wake. Marshall lofted a pass for Stewart to run under.
Stewart chased it down, diving headlong with the zeal of a frisbee-catching dog to reel in the throw for the Jackets’ only completion of the game in eight attempts.
“He bailed me out,” Marshall said. “Threw the ball too early, probably could have been seven maybe. A good thing that it wasn’t maybe; it would have left too much time on the clock, but great catch. He sold out for it, put his body on the line, just laid out. Beautiful catch. He got us down there on a big third down. It was a play we definitely needed, so kudos to him because he definitely bailed us out.”
Beyond an acrobatic play, it provided the Jackets the field-position bump that they desperately needed. After A-back Qua Searcy gained 33 yards on a reverse on the first play of the second quarter, Tech had run 37 plays from scrimmage and only one of them advanced the ball more than seven yards (a 30-yard run by Marshall at the beginning of the third quarter). Tech was having significant difficulty gaining yards and probably needed an explosive play like Stewart’s to get into scoring range. He called it a catch that he’ll remember forever.
“This is crazy,” Stewart said. “That’s my last catch ever here (at Bobby Dodd Stadium). How crazy is that? It was special, how it turned out to be.”
Indeed, the play advanced Tech to the Virginia 34, and the Jackets could gain only three more yards before having to call on kicker Wesley Wells for the go-ahead field goal. (As Wells’ holder, Stewart was again called on to make a clutch reception, bringing down a high snap from Jack Coco to place it down for Wells.)
“I knew Brad was going to catch it,” linebacker Jalen Johnson said. “I remember when he first came in and he had no gloves on coming in in summer. He was just killing people. I was like, man, he’s going to be special. He just did what Brad does – he makes big plays.”
More from the game:
Game story: Georgia Tech takes down Virginia in overtime
Breaking down Georgia Tech’s wild first-quarter sequence
Michael Cunningham: Offense stalls, so Georgia Tech wins with defense
What Paul Johnson said after the game