In the next few weeks, college football teams across the country will end their offseason conditioning regimens and start month-long training camps. As they start looking toward the new season, Telegraph Georgia Tech beat reporter Coley Harvey takes a look back to last year and the top 10 Yellow Jackets moments....
No. 10: DERRICK MORGAN'S GAME-SAVING BLOCK
Don’t remember Derrick Morgan’s high-flying leap that ended a game last year? You probably have already convinced yourself that the game didn’t even happen.
The game so many Yellow Jackets fans have tried to erase from their memories was Georgia Tech’s Oct. 11 showdown with tiny — but unexpectedly mighty — Gardner-Webb of the Big South Conference.
(Of course, this isn't "the block," I can't find a pic of it anywhere. This should suffice, though. It's Morgan leaping in the face of QB Ryan Perrilloux during last year's season-opener against Jacksonville St)
Before the midseason contest, most pundits and fans looked at this matchup and believed the Yellow Jackets would trample the Runnin’ Bulldogs. But Gardner-Webb backup quarterback Devin Campbell had other plans. Playing mostly in the second half after starter Stan Doolittle left with a broken thumb before halftime, Campbell went 10-for-13 and passed for 116 yards.
While Campbell’s arm proved a big challenge for Georgia Tech, running back Brandon Jackson kept Gardner-Webb’s hopes alive with an eight-yard touchdown run, capped by a dive over the pylon.
So there the Yellow Jackets were, holding onto a 10-7 lead late in the fourth quarter, when their defense was forced to play its best football of the day. And the odds weren’t great.
The Yellow Jackets had already lost linebacker Sedric Griffin to a pair of injuries that were later proven to be the result of seizures; he had forgotten to take his medicine before the game. And to add to its frustrations, Georgia Tech’s defense had allowed more total yards than its own offense had mustered against its lowly opponent.
As what proved to be the game’s final drive ensued, Campbell hit receiver Jamal Patmon for a 26-yard gain before nailing Dobson Collins for a 12-yard pass to set up a potential game-tying field goal kick.
As Runnin’ Bulldogs kicker Ryan Gates’ 43-yard attempt left his foot, Morgan rushed from the left, leapt high and diverted the kick with three seconds remaining. The block saved a potentially disastrous, humiliating loss from happening and got the Yellow Jackets back on track for a 21-17 road win over Clemson the following week
***Behind the Scenes***When Sedric Griffin left the game for the second time with an initially undisclosed injury, I personally feared the worst; and before you knew it, others in the pressbox and around the GT world were thinking the same thing.
You see, during the week leading up to the Gardner-Webb game, I decided to do a story on Griffin and the background to a scar I noticed on his forehead. Sure enough, there was this really interesting background to how he received it after needing to have surgery to correct a sinus infection in his nasal cavity. (I would link to the story, but can't find it on the Web site) After talking to Sedric and more importantly, after talking to an Emory doctor, I learned that seizures were a side effect of the surgery to correct Griffin's rare condition known as Empyema.
So of course, all those details went into my story, which, as fate would have it, ran the exact same day Griffin forgot to take his seizure medicine. So needless to say, when we later learned that Griffin's "injuries" were the result of the seizures, my heart was in my stomach. It's crazy how life operates sometimes. The exact same day that GT readers learned about his condition, there it was on full display to the crowd at Bobby Dodd.
...And then, to add to the weirdness of the day, Tech was on the verge of going to overtime with a team it had just happened to schedule at the last minute; a team some Tech fans have later said the Yellow Jackets had no business playing. But when Derrick Morgan batted away that kick, the team felt energized again, and I bet it helped give the Jackets confidence that they could close out a game late. They didn't lose a game all year in which they held a lead entering the game's last 15 minutes.
Check back tomorrow for GT Moment No. 9!