Black PR Wire Newsroom
(BLACK PR WIRE) – For the 45,000 or so Yellow Jackets fans in attendance, it wasn’t supposed to end like this. First, they already had to endure a heartbreaking OT loss to ACC intra-division rival Virginia Tech just three weeks earlier. More importantly, Georgia Tech was bringing their vaunted triple option attack and the third ranked rushing offense in the nation to go up against a Miami Hurricanes defense that was surrendering over 200 yards rushing per game and was ranked 102 out of 120 D-1 teams.
But true to a Hollywood film script, it was Miami’s defense that forced Georgia Tech to punt three straight times in the fourth quarter. This allowed the Miami offense to battle back from a 36-19 deficit, and eventually pull out a 42-36 win in overtime before 50,390 people in attendance at historic Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.
Even with Miami’s furious comeback, Georgia Tech was still in the driver’s seat in the latter part of the fourth quarter.
After Miami missed a field goal attempt, Georgia Tech took possession on their own 20 yard line with a 36-29 lead, and only 7:03 left in the game. Since Miami had just one timeout left, Georgia Tech only had to get three first downs to win the game. After running for two first downs, it looked bleak for Miami. But the young Miami defense dug in and wouldn’t give up. Miami sophomore DL Anthony Chickillo made three of his team high seven tackles in this drive alone. On third and four to go, Chickillo stopped Georgia Tech RB Zach Laskey one yard short of the first down marker. Coach Paul Johnson decided to punt the ball away, knowing that the Hurricanes would have to go the entire length of the field to tie the game.
And that is exactly what happened.
With only two minutes left and all the way back on their own nine yard line, Miami coaches gave the ball to QB Stephen Morris and he would not relinquish it. Morris completed six of eight passes that culminated with a 10 yard touchdown pass to RB Mike James to push the game into overtime.
After 60 minutes of battle and 72 points put on the board, both teams sent out their captains to midfield for the second time that day. Miami, having won the toss, elected to defend forcing Georgia Tech to play offense first. And this is when Miami’s defense came up with a goal line stand that will be talked about for years.
Beginning on Miami’s 25 yard line, Georgia Tech, not surprisingly, ran the ball three straight times gaining 22 yards and ending up on Miami’s three yard line. On third down and only two yards to go for another four downs, Tech senior QB Devin Washington took the ball over the right tackle but was stuffed for only a one yard gain by Miami’s DT Corey King. King’s presence on the field, who is a redshirt freshman and not even on Miami’s two deep chart at the beginning of the season, proves not just how much of a team effort this game was for Miami, but also how much Miami’s coaches trust and have prepared the youth on this team.
On fourth and one from Miami’s two yard line, Georgia Tech’s Johnson decided against going for a field goal but instead trusted his offense to get at least one yard. However, Miami RS freshman LB Eddie Johnson, himself an Atlanta native, stopped Washington again, this time for no gain. Miami’s defense didn’t even wait for the signal from the officials, and ran off the field in jubilation, knowing that they had done the improbable: stopping the vaunted Georgia Tech rushing offense from getting two yards, twice.
Now Miami had the enviable position of getting the ball next and only having to kick a field goal to win. Not necessary. On the second play from Miami’s 25 yard line, James bolted over the left side and with the help of a crushing block by Miami FB Maurice Hagens, who leveled a Georgia Tech linebacker, James went untouched down the left sideline and scored his fourth touchdown of the game.
It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person. Ever since arriving on campus in 2009, James has always put aside what some may consider individual interests, in favor of the team’s interests. He was once asked to play fullback when he first arrived on campus. Just before the 2010 Sun Bowl, James’ mother was involved in a fatal car accident – but James decided it would be best for him to be with his teammates during the bowl game rather than attend his mom’s funeral – “It was where she would have wanted me to be,” James said back in 2010. Last year, he was hampered by a stubborn case of turf toe and had to play behind RB Lamar Miller, currently a Miami Dolphin. Now, as a senior captain, this is his year. And he is making the most of it, not just with his play but with his leadership of the youthful Hurricanes.
There were many other great achievements for this Miami team. WR Phillip Dorsett had a career day, making a number of critical receptions, hauling in nine catches for 184 yards including a 65 yard touchdown on the game’s third play. For his efforts, Dorsett was named ACC Receiver of the Week. Morris also set a career high, passing for 436 yards. Freshman Duke Johnson again had over 200 all purpose yards and now leads the nation in that category - an amazing feat for a true freshman.
But the most improbable hero of Saturday was fifth year senior WR Davon Johnson. Before this year, Johnson had not caught a pass since registering a total of only five as a freshman in 2008. He redshirted in 2009 and played only sparingly on special teams in 2010 and 2011. Now in 2012, Johnson had only caught a total of four passes before arriving in Atlanta. But in this game alone, he almost matched his five year career total, making seven catches for 107 yards and at the most critical times. During Miami’s two minute drill at the end of the fourth quarter to put the game in overtime, Johnson caught five passes gaining 66 yards and picking up four consecutive first downs.
Miami Head Coach Al Golden spoke of Johnson after the game. “He’s earning the right to be on the field by what he’s doing in practice… I know he’s not a guy who has been in that situation before (playing when the game is on the line), but he deserves this opportunity and has come through for us. I’m real proud of him.”
Although Davon Johnson’s career at Miami has been anything but typical, his attitude apparently is. Every player on the Miami team knows that no matter what age or year they are, they can get on the field with hard work put on the practice field. They are accountable to their teammates and their coaches on each play and the result is being noticed on the field.
Hold on, Hurricanes fans, this season is going to be quite a ride.