Qua Searcy will let someone else come up with a catchy nickname for the play that won Saturday’s game against Georgia. He’s just happy to revel in the outcome.
With 36 seconds remaining, Georgia Tech faced third-and-goal from the 6. That’s when Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson reached deep into the playbook for something he has not called in awhile, at least not in the five years at quarterback Justin Thomas has been on The Flats.
The option pass play asked Thomas to hand the ball to the A-back, Searcy, then roll out and become the intended target. The idea was for Searcy, a Lamar County product, to toss the ball to Thomas for the winning touchdown.
It just didn’t turn out that way.
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Searcy took the ball and rolled right, but when he looked for Thomas, the quarterback-turned-receiver was well covered. Searcy pump-faked, then he ran back toward the middle of the field and dove what seemed like the final 3 yards for the winning touchdown.
“It was an either-or,” Johnson said. “It was a throwback to the quarterback, but it was third down. When we took timeout, I said, ‘It’s third down. If it’s not there, don’t force it.’ I think it froze them. He looked like he was going to throw it, and he froze them and was able to get it in. Great play, individual play, by Qua.”
Georgia Tech had plenty of time and a full quota of timeouts, so it wasn’t a do-or-die situation. Johnson told everyone involved to use caution.
“He told me to be smart,” Searcy said. “If I felt like I couldn’t get it to him, run the ball.”
Searcy didn’t have much time to make his decision. He looked at the field and saw a lot of red jerseys around Thomas. So he tucked and dove.
“It was a split-second decision,” Searcy said. “I was about the throw the ball, and I saw like five defenders go toward him and there wasn’t anybody in the middle, so (I ran). I knew I had to go airborne. I barely got it in.”
The scoring play was reviewed, and the score was confirmed.
Wide receiver Brad Stewart could have saved them the time. He saw it all unfold right in front of him.
“We gave the ball to a playmaker, and he made a play,” Stewart said. “He dove in there just enough. I knew he had it as soon as I saw it. I was right in front of him, and I could see the ball right over the line. It was the greatest feeling.”
Even the defenders were engrossed in the play.
“We definitely got to watch,” linebacker P.J. Davis said. “We were standing up, excited and saw it and it was great.”
Georgia linebacker David Bellamy saw it, too, and grudgingly gave the Yellow Jackets credit.
“The guy just made a play,” Bellamy said. “He saw that the pass wasn’t there and dove at the 5-yard line. That guy stretched the ball out and put his body on the line for his team. I tip my hat off to him. No adjustments can stop that. The play that they were trying to run, we defending it. His instincts took over, and he became a ball player and dove in.”