Story behind the photo: Capturing the decisive moment in Gators' big win
The cheering is so loud it’s deafening. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly is forced to pace his offensive line, screaming the play call, because his teammates can’t hear him. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, better known as “The Swamp,” is buzzing with the electricity of a ravenous fan base hungry for bragging rights lost in recent years. When Gators defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III snatches an interception on the ensuing play, the stadium erupts into a roar unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Approximately 90,000 Gators fans lose their minds. The promise of an upset over the No. 3 team in the nation sets The Swamp on fire.
It’s these moments I live for as a photographer. The cliché that photojournalists are afforded front-row seats to history couldn’t be truer.
Amid the pandemonium of my surroundings, I focus on the action seen through a 400mm lens in hopes of making an image that tells the story of the game. Many times you’re just in the wrong position on the sidelines and the action is going away from you, or a referee blocks your view, or the autofocus jitters at the peak moment and leaves you with a soft picture.
Sometimes though, everything aligns and you nail the shot on a meaningful play. That is the gratifying moment I continually pursue. Rarely do all the factors come together just right. The featured shot here is an example of when they do. Hargreaves III in mid-air returning a big interception embodies the gutsy, athletic Gators performance that shocked one of the best teams in the country. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, and capitalize on that 1/1000 of a second moment. To open a copy of Sports Illustrated magazine and see that frame in the form of a double-page spread was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my young career.