Monday, July 21, 2008

GTSB Top 5 Results: Most Memorable Plays

Your votes have been cast. All hanging chads have been accounted for. There was a tie, so our "Top 5" is acutally a "Top 6". Al Gore has not protested. When you ask for the "most memorable plays", naturally the slant is going to be on the modern, during the time when most people either lived it in person or saw it on TV. There were so many good choices that we had to leave out some truly magical ones. For example, William Bell's magical run in 1990 against Nebraska in the Citrus Bowl, James Forrest's magical 3pt shot in the 1992 tourney against USC-west (Holy Mackeral anyone?), and there were hundreds of magical plays from games only covered in print and remembered only through the living history of our "seniors".

I proudly present to you your Top 5 most memorable plays in Georgia Tech history.

In one of the most improbably comebacks in Georgia Tech history, the Jackets manage to score 3 TD's in the last 4:30 to beat Clemson. It was Calvin Johnson's coming out party, as the highly touted freshman caught 3 TD passes and amassed 127 yards in the air. In addition, this call by Wes Durham has to go down as one of the classics in GT history. It just captures everything we love about Wes, as he was as excited and amazed as anyone else watching (I mean, does it really compare to this?). Classic, classic, classic!


The year, 1990. It was a magical year if you were on campus........ I was. Final Fours, football National Championships. The crowing moment was this 37 yard field goal by ice-water-in-the-veins kicker Scott Sisson. Did I mention I was Scott's "RA" (Resident Assistant) in Field dorm, so I'd like to think I had a hand in it all. That kick ousted Virginia from the #1 spot in the nation and propelled Georgia Tech to a National Championship under Bobby Ross. Anyone remember the bonfires in the intersection of Techwood and Bobby Dodd Way? Anyone remember the stop lights catching on fire? Anyone remember tearing down the goal posts in BDS (that was an away game)?

Five feet and change. Will the Thrill Bynum. No Georgia Tech team had ever played for a National Championship. The Jackets were on the verge. Little Will, the transfer from Arizona, was finally learning to accept a role coming off the bench. Coach Hewitt kept telling him to be patient; that his time would come; that it mattered more who finished than who started............... and oh did he finish. "Look at that little fellow take it in there and use his strength" - Bill Packer.

November 28, 2000. Kerry Watkins has something to say to Calvin Johnson about who owns "the catch". He would also take umbrage at who is the biggest heartbreaker of Tiger fans in Death Valley. I was at this game as well. Unfortunately I could not find video of another magical miracle victory over Clemson, but I did find this:

No. 92 Georgia Tech 31 ... Clemson 28, November 28, 2000
At the time: Georgia Tech had won three straight and was 5-2. Number four Clemson had started off the season 8-0 and was looking forward to a showdown with Florida State the following week with the hopes of securing an ACC title.

The setup: It was a tremendous game with long scoring drives and an 88-yard punt return for a score from Clemson's Brian Mance. The Tigers took a 28-24 lead with under two minutes to play on a Rod Gardner touchdown catch. Kelly Campbell finished with 209 receiving yards for the Yellow Jackets, but it was another Tech receiver that would steal the show.

The ending: Tech QB George Godsey, who finished with a school record 454 passing yards, had the ball on the Clemson 16 with time running out. He lofted a pass into the end zone for Kerry Watkins, but it looked out of reach. Watkins dove making a one-handed grab for the game-winning score with just seven seconds to play.

If someone finds the video of this one on YouTube or elsewhere, I update this post. It was magic.

March 1, 1989. "There's mayhem in Alexander Memorial Coliseum". Georgia Tech down 2 with 5 seconds on the clock and UNC has the ball. One of many magical buzzer beaters in Georgia Tech hoops history, but Dennis Scott managed to squeeze the improbable off against the hated Tarheels, by stealing the ball and draining a three. The Bobby Cremins reaction goes down as the classic moment..... and to think, if Karl Brown hadn't messed up and made the stinkin' free throws we may have never seen the magic.

It is good to see that enough of you voted for what goes down as not only one of the most memorable plays in Georgia Tech history, but in college football history. In fact, the story of the 1929 Rose Bowl truthfully goes down as one of the most memorable plays in the history of the game - period. ESPN named it the 26th most important moment that defined college football. In 1971, Sports Illustrated said it was "the best-known play in the history of American football". Riegels was parodied in Hollywood by heavyweights such as Frank Capra.

Georgia Tech and Cal were locked up in a tight, low-scoring battle. Locked up 0-0, Tech back Stumpy Thomason had the ball knocked loose. With the ball squirting lose on a fumble, Cal's Roy Riegels picked up the ball, spun around and proceeded to jaunt 69 yards....... the wrong way. His own teammates tried to pull him down, and one of them finally did - at the one yard line. Riegels was ticked because he thought his own teammates wanted the credit for the TD. On Cal's next play, they attempted to punt the ball from the endzone (with Riegels snapping). The Tech line broke through, blocked the punt, notched a safety and posted 2 points on the scoreboard. That safety ended up being enough for a winning margin for Georgia Tech, as they won 8-7.

The result was that Bill Alexander's Yellow Jackets remained undefeated and went on to win their 2nd National Championship. For Riegels, much was written and said, but he want on to become a Cal team captain, successful coach and businessman.

"You know," he says slowly, "I really wasn't a bad football player. But for the life of me, I still don't know how or why I did what I did." He dismisses the damning memorabilia with a hearty wave. "Now I ask you, isn't this a hell of a way to become famous?"

"I used to be sensitive," he says, "but everybody else thought it was funny and I finally decided that all I could do was laugh with them. Sometimes my 10-year-old son calls me 'Wrong Way Riegels'—and I don't even spank him for it."

I'll leave you with this memorable flyover - unforgettable!!!!