Saturday, May 26, 2018
Colleges

Georgia Tech returns blocked kick for TD to stun FSU (w/ video)

ATLANTA — Call this one Kick Six, The Sequel.

It may have ended Florida State's national championship hopes.

Lance Austin picked up the ball after a blocked field goal and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the game, giving Georgia Tech a 22-16 upset of the No. 9 Seminoles on Saturday night.

"Wow!" Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "What a game, huh?"

Roberto Aguayo, one of the most accurate kickers in the country, attempted a 56-yard field goal to win it for the Seminoles (6-1, 4-1 ACC) with six seconds left. But the kick was low, and Patrick Gamble managed to get a hand on it.

While most of his teammates celebrated, Austin went back to retrieve the ball, rolling along inside the 25-yard line. Johnson was actually yelling for no one to pick it up, content to go to overtime with the score tied at 16.

Austin hesitated, looking as if he would let it roll dead. Then he scooped it up, taking off the other way in front of the Georgia Tech bench. He weaved in and out of FSU blockers turned tacklers, eluding tackles from holder Cason Beatty then Aguayo before scrambling into the end zone.

"I go from yelling, 'Get away from it,' to, 'Run, run, run,' " Johnson said.

"Everybody should have pursued to the ball, and that's what didn't happen," Seminoles offensive lineman Rod Johnson said.

On the FSU sideline, coach Jimbo Fisher was clearly shocked at the Seminoles' second loss in the past three seasons.

"We did not finish," he said. "I don't know what happened on that last play. We've got to cover it."

White-clad Georgia Tech fans stormed the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium, celebrating with the players after perhaps the school's most improbable win.

The fans were still milling around when a replay of the final play, complete with the call by the Yellow Jackets' radio crew, was played on the video board. They cheered wildly as Austin zigzagged down the field all over again.

In a finish reminiscent of Auburn running back a missed field goal to beat Alabama two seasons ago — the original Kick Six — Georgia Tech snapped a five-game skid and dealt a devastating blow to FSU's title hopes.

The Yellow Jackets also ended FSU's record-tying 28-game ACC winning streak, which dated to 2012 and matched the Seminoles' streak of winning its first 28 conference games after joining the league in 1992.

Leading 16-13, FSU had a chance to seal the victory in the fourth quarter as it drove deep into Georgia Tech territory. On third and goal from the 10, Everett Golson's deflected pass led to the Seminoles' first offensive turnover of the season — and first turnover of any kind since their first game.

Jamal Golden made the interception in the back of the end zone.

Justin Thomas, who had a 60-yard touchdown run for the Yellow Jackets after two early interceptions led to 10 points for FSU, kept the game alive by converting on fourth and 6 from the Georgia Tech 41. The quarterback hit Brad Stewart on a 36-yard pass that set up Harrison Butker's third field goal of the game, a 35-yarder that tied the score with 54 seconds left.

With two timeouts left, the Seminoles still had time to get into field-goal range for Aguayo, who had never missed a kick in the fourth quarter. But FSU didn't get quite close enough, forcing him to attempt what would have been the longest kick of his career. He drove it low, looking for distance, and the Seminoles didn't even get to go to overtime.

Austin made sure of that.

 
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