ATLANTA -- It was a humiliating feeling, to be sure, but Scott Blair had to keep his wits about him.
He still does.
In the aftermath of Georgia Tech’s 42-34 defeat to rival Georgia and the missed point-after attempt that wobbled innocently off his right leg and to the left of Sanford Stadium’s west stand goalposts late in the game, Blair was a marked man.
But the Yellow Jackets place-kicker wasn’t marked in the traditional sense. He wasn’t drawing too much ire; he wasn’t drawing too much anger.
He was drawing sympathy. And several different groups had him in their crosshairs, ready to offer it.
“I had a lot of support, actually,” Blair said earlier this week, speaking publicly for the first time since his PAT miss helped contribute to the Yellow Jackets’ loss. “From fans, my teammates, family -- everybody has supported me from that one kick.”
To thank those for their support, he even posted a status on his Facebook page the Monday after the game. As of this Thursday, it had 49 comments and nearly 150 “likes.”
The miss came with 4:57 remaining in the contest and the Yellow Jackets surging into what appeared to be a come-from-behind tie. Trailing by as many as 14 points at the start of the fourth quarter, they seemed poised to make an emotional second-half rally for the second time in as many meetings in Athens.
On the fateful drive midway through the final quarter, B-back Anthony Allen capped the series by rushing from 8 yards out for a score to make it a 35-34 game with the PAT pending. That was when Blair, taking the same fluid, mechanically sound approach that he had made him successful in each of his 36 previous PAT attempts during the 2010 season and successful in 77 straight PAT attempts overall, missed the kick.
“I just mis-kicked,” Blair said. “Everything on it was perfect. The snap was perfect, hold was perfect. And it wasn’t that I was nervous at all, I guess it was the same thing that happened against Middle Tennessee State.”
Against the Blue Raiders, Blair missed a field goal attempt to snap a streak of nine straight made field goals to start the season. Similarly, his mechanics were sound, he said at the time. The ball just didn’t sail through the uprights.
“I was out there, I felt fine,” he said about the Georgia missed PAT. “I just didn’t hit it right. I felt fine going up to it, and then I looked up and it wasn’t there.”
Following the miss, the Yellow Jackets allowed the Bulldogs to score one final time in an attempt to get the ball back for one final desperate scoring attempt. The final scoring chance did not come about, as an interception ended their comeback bid.
Allen, whose potentially game-tying touchdown was tarnished by the miss, held no hard feelings for his teammate.
“We know Scott is a very dependable kicker for us,” Allen said in post-game interviews. “So that (miss) is not something you want to harp on or about. Like the Boise State game (the night before). I’m sure they don’t go after their kicker.”
One day before Blair’s miss, Boise State place-kicker Kyle Broxton missed a pair of short-range field goals -- one in regulation, the other in overtime -- to negate potentially game-winning attempts against conference rival Nevada. The Broncos ended up losing the game and the Western Athletic Conference title in the process.
Broxton later said he received hate mail and death threats, and he said he felt shaken by the entire ordeal. The following week, against Utah State in the Broncos’ final game, he missed his only attempt.
Blair is optimistic that won’t be happening to him in his next game, Dec. 27 against Air Force in the Independence Bowl.
“Yeah, we’ve still got one more chance to redeem it, and overall,” he said, “I think I’ve had a decent career.”
Blair currently is tied for first all-time in single season field goal percentage and ranks fourth on the Yellow Jackets’ all-time field goals (41) and PATs career list (115). The once embattled kicker has dramatically turned his career around this season, missing just two field goal attempts this year after watching 13 sail wide during his two previous seasons.
For those reasons, he chooses to remember 2010 as the year he finally got it all figured out physically and psychologically. He hopes others make the PAT miss against Georgia a mere footnote in his legacy.
“If that’s their memory, then so be it,” Blair said of the miss. “I know how I’ve kicked at Tech. I’m happy with how I’ve progressed with my career. I hope that’s not how people remember me, but if so, so be it.”