Qua Searcy leaps into end zone, history

Georgia Tech running back Qua Searcy dives into the end zone for a game-tying touchdown against Georgia in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Athens, Ga. Georgia Tech won 28-27. (Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Gary Lee’s kickoff return in 1985. Luke Manget’s game-winning field goal in 1999. Roddy Jones’ tightrope act down the sideline in 2008. Harrison Butker’s kick and D.J. White’s interception in 2014.

To the pantheon of Georgia Tech’s game-winning plays against Georgia, please make welcome for A-back Qua Searcy, author of the biggest play in Georgia Tech’s 28-27 win over Georgia Saturday at Sanford Stadium, a 6-yard touchdown run off an aborted gadget play with 30 seconds remaining.

“It’s a great feeling, especially to do it for a great institution,” Searcy said.

Trailing 27-21, Tech called time with 36 seconds remaining, facing a third-and-goal from the 6. Coach Paul Johnson called for a toss to Searcy with the option to throw back to quarterback Justin Thomas.

“It was like, it’s third down — if it’s not there, don’t force it,” Johnson said.

Thomas said that the offense has practiced that play since he came to Tech in 2012, but had never run it until Saturday.

Searcy took the toss and ran right toward the Georgia sideline, setting up to throw at the 13-yard line on the right hash as Thomas looped to the Tech sideline. As he planted, two Georgia defenders read him and peeled off toward Thomas, opening up the middle of the field.

Seeing the opening, Searcy dashed to the goal line. Getting a block from center Freddie Burden, he leapt for the goal line at about the 3-yard line over linebacker Roquan Smith and into a tightening thicket of no fewer than five Georgia defenders. Searcy, who was an occasional long jumper at Lamar County High, said he got about wrist deep into the end zone. After an official review, the play stood.

“I think it was just like a split-second decision,” Searcy said of his decision to tuck the ball and take off for the end zone. “I was really about to throw the ball, but I saw, like, five defenders go toward him and nobody was really in the middle. I think I dove from the 3, but I knew I had to go airborne.”

It was the last of a handful of big contributions that he made Saturday. He ran 32 yards on an option pitch on Tech’s opening drive, leading to a touchdown, and also caught a 39-yard pass on the Jackets’ 94-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

Time will tell if the play earns a nickname. Quantum Leap?

“I’m not really sure,” said Searcy, asked his thoughts on a moniker. “When I find out, I’ll let you know.”

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