The best thing I saw all year: Bowden, lightning and a theft

Mojo is a music magazine published in England, and it’s great for many reasons, one being its year-end review. In addition to the usual best-of listings, Mojo asks various big-name musicians to name the best thing he/she has heard all year. Because I just finished reading the latest Mojo — Tom Petty picked the Leonard Cohen live album — and because we’re coming to the close of  2009, I’ve stolen appropriated the idea for posting purposes.

The best sporting moment I witnessed personally this year had to involve Georgia Tech football virtually by default. The Hawks won a playoff series for the first time in a decade, but it was a crummy playoff series that featured blowouts in every game, Game 7 included. Nothing happened in local college basketball, and Georgia football just posted its worst season under Mark Richt. The Braves and Thrashers didn’t make the playoffs. The Falcons won’t make the playoffs. (Though they did play in a postseason game on Jan. 3, 2009. And lost.)

No, it had to be Tech, and I was sorely tempted to pick the ACC title game in Tampa, which came down to the final minute and involved no punts and much scoring, or Paul Johnson’s go-for-it decision on fourth-and-one in overtime against Wake Forest. As good as those moments were, there was one better.

Oct. 10, 2009: The first half in Doak Campbell Stadium was the longest and wildest in the history of college football. (No? Try finding another like it.) It started with Bobby Bowden, who’d come under fire that week from the chairman of Florida State’s board of  trustees, marching onto the field arm in arm with two of his players, the rest of the Seminoles in lined lockstep. It featured nine touchdowns on the first nine possessions — the only time a team didn’t score in the first half was when Tech ran off the final 19 seconds — and ended with FSU leading 35-28.

Oh, yes. The part about it being the longest half ever? There was a 78-minute delay for lightning.

The second half was calmer by comparison — how could it not be? — but culminated with a display of willpower that came to signify this  Tech team. (The offensive part, anyway.) With eight minutes remaining and Tech up 42-38, quarterback Josh Nesbitt slung a pitchout wide of Roddy Jones. Nigel Carr, an FSU linebacker, picked up the ball and began to run with it. Nesbitt accosted him and stole it back. Two snaps later he scored the clinching touchdown.

Said Paul Johnson: “That was all No. 9.”

Nesbitt: “I was going to try to tackle the guy, and then I saw the ball. When your back is behind the wall, you’ll do anything.”

On that long night/early morning — the game ended at 12:45 a.m. –  it became clear that Tech wasn’t going to be halted shy of an ACC title. There would be subsequent moments when that goal was in doubt, but there was never a doubt about the Jackets’ sense of purpose. (Yes, I know Tech lost to Georgia. Tech is still the champion of a BCS conference.) When I saw Nesbitt re-steal the ball, I pretty much said to myself, “That guy’s not going to let them lose.” And that guy is going to the Orange Bowl.

To call Nesbitt’s play the best I saw in 2009 does it an injustice. It was the best play I’ve seen in several years. The best, I’d say, since David Pollack stole the ball in the end zone in Columbia, S.C. And there was a rain delay that day, too. Coincidence? I think not.

116 comments Add your comment

mason

December 22nd, 2009
12:35 am

Sorry state of Atlanta sports.

misterwax

December 22nd, 2009
12:36 am

first time I ever noted as first.

misterwax

December 22nd, 2009
12:36 am

Tech Forever

December 22nd, 2009
12:37 am

Tech Forever

December 22nd, 2009
12:38 am

4ht and 5th!!!

Mark Bradley

December 22nd, 2009
12:38 am

Pretty close to a four-way tie for first at 12:35 a.m. That’s impressive.

misterwax

December 22nd, 2009
12:39 am

I think that play set the tone for Tech’s season….They might get beat but they won’t just lose and beat themselves, which happened in 2008 a few times….So hats off to UGA for actually beating them them this year.

Tech Forever

December 22nd, 2009
12:39 am

Nah….I live in Texas….an hour behind ;-)

willie martinez

December 22nd, 2009
12:39 am

6th is better than nothing. did you watch new york kill washington?

willie martinez

December 22nd, 2009
12:41 am

i dont remember a team being so much better than another. well, maybe georgia-florida

willie martinez

December 22nd, 2009
12:42 am

or georgia-tennessee

Mark Bradley

December 22nd, 2009
12:43 am

Didn’t watch the game, Coach. I heard it was a classic.

Tech Forever

December 22nd, 2009
12:43 am

Great play indeed!!

The most exciting thing to me about this GT team and program is that they are LEARNING how to win. Some people say that’s stupid but think about it. Tech beats Georgia and is riding high on it’s own virtue before crashing back to Earth in the Peach Bowl. Then Tech clinches a spot in the ACCC Game and is riding high on it’s own virtue before crashing back to Earth vs. Georgia. It truly shows the difference in the Gailey “we want to win and hope to win” mentality and the Johnson “we expect to win” mentality. The trick is learning how to win….learning how to handle those expectations especially once you’ve met some of them. I cannot wait for next year to get here soon enough!!!

willie martinez

December 22nd, 2009
12:44 am

it was a classic route. i dont understand how the manning genes can be that good. i watched poor archie getting killed for years at new orleans.

willie martinez

December 22nd, 2009
12:46 am

tell me something: coaching aside, who had the better football players, georgia or tech?

Tech Forever

December 22nd, 2009
12:48 am

Well Georgia of course. Georgia has the better everything. Don’t believe me? Just listen to a Georgia fan….they’ll tell you.

Matt Winkeljohn

December 22nd, 2009
12:49 am

Best play I’ve seen in ages given the moment, the location, the fact Tech had never won at FSU. I was in a hotel lobby in Johnson City, Tenn., watching with my jaw nearly ready to hit the floor.

willie martinez

December 22nd, 2009
12:50 am

i thought we didnt use real names on the blog matt

Tech Forever

December 22nd, 2009
12:52 am

Mark you should do a State of the Program story on Tech and compare today to three years ago. Teri Anton could be your primary interview as she’s been in her position for a long time. She might have even worked for Coach O’Leary, but I’m not sure about that. Differences in the mentality, coaching, attitudes, personalities, everything. You’d have to write so as to not be slamming anyone so it could be a challenge for you.

willie martinez

December 22nd, 2009
12:54 am

i wonder how far we can get in this blog without a racist comment?

Tech Forever

December 22nd, 2009
12:55 am

I have to go to bed and I won’t read this blog tomorrow because the rodents will be out in force in the morning spewing their crap on here when they should be looking for a job…so I’ll leave you with:

I know I know Georgia rules, Georgia’s the best, Georgia killed Tech, Tech sucks, Nerds, Nerds, Nerds, Dooley is a God, etc., etc., etc.

Good night all.

MightyQuinn

December 22nd, 2009
12:57 am

You mean, you’re not REALLY willie martinez? Man, and right here at Christmas. Next thing you’ll tell me Santa isn’t real……what?

willie martinez

December 22nd, 2009
12:57 am

i can sit on the blogs all night
since i’ve been fired there is no fright
coaching is past
but this is a blast
as i have a drink and geta bit tight

willie martinez

December 22nd, 2009
12:58 am

is writing “racist” racist??

MightyQuinn

December 22nd, 2009
12:59 am

And gotta say the “cajones grandes” moment of the year was going for it on fourth down against Wake in OT.

willie martinez

December 22nd, 2009
12:59 am

mighty, sorry to disappoint you but my real name is willie martinez

willie martinez

December 22nd, 2009
1:01 am

i really, really hate it when a nice piece of prose gets hung up by the ajc leftist computer.

Innocent Bystander

December 22nd, 2009
1:01 am

I was in Nashville, TN, watching that game. At halftime, I was legitimately worried that we were going to lose. It wasn’t until the theft that I felt fully confident with the team. That seemed to be a turning point of such an unbelievable season.

MightyQuinn

December 22nd, 2009
1:02 am

Whew, now I can sleep easy tonight. Thanks Willie!

misterwax

December 22nd, 2009
1:03 am

I liked the fake field goal and 39 yard TD pass from Scott Blair to D. Thomas…. Blair has a great QB rating on that one….made Clemson look completely unprepared.

MightyQuinn

December 22nd, 2009
1:05 am

Thanks Willie, I feel better.

Mark Bradley

December 22nd, 2009
1:20 am

That’s why I’m here. To rescue nice pieces of prose.

g8tr45

December 22nd, 2009
1:36 am

While not a GT fan, I remember the play and it was one for the books. Don’t know if its good highlight reel material, as the drama leading up to the play can’t be captured.

Robert

December 22nd, 2009
1:45 am

What about ((((30-24))))???? Oh, that’s right. The AJC has become pro-Tech since they have a glimmer of hope now with their classless coach. It’s ok. Lose the Orange Bowl all you want. Georgia is still ours!!! Go Dawgs!!!

Frank Wren

December 22nd, 2009
2:15 am

One only wonders how many wads of paper or spitballs were created by UGA’s win at Tech.

It was time for a coronation. None other than Furman Bisher had called Paul Johnson one of the greatest coaches of all time. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.

They had to play the game.

A very good game in which honestly either team could have won. One team did

UGA

Even in Richts darkest hour his team rallied. Proof I would say of his coaching powers. Even in this his worst season his team didnt lay down. In fact the worst team he has had beat his in state rival ranked number 7.

Its easy to be behind a coach when you are winning. Its another to not lay down when you could so easily.

Go Dawgs. Go Mark Richt.

Paul's Johnson

December 22nd, 2009
2:27 am

Great call, Mark. It was a definitive move in a couple of different ways. Because if FSU keeps the ball there, there’s a good chance they win the game. That’s why I’m all in for CPJ. Its almost unheard of to have a team that features a defense like ours that made a BCS game. A tribute to the coach and his offensive players. Nesbitt is a reflection of his coach.

P.S. Glad to see that the Mutts are still excited about beating us. Maybe it takes the sting off playing in the weed-eater bowl.

Frank Wren

December 22nd, 2009
2:30 am

P.S. Glad to see that the Mutts are still excited about beating us. Maybe it takes the sting off playing in the weed-eater bowl.

Nah we yawn at beating Tech. We do that every year good or bad. Its an automatic W at the end of SEC play.

hop

December 22nd, 2009
4:24 am

frank wren… no big deal, we beat you guys on a regular basis. so much so it get’s a little boring,so maybe, the dawgs need to toughen the schedule by dropping tech and play someone else in a better conference.

Hop off

December 22nd, 2009
5:01 am

Really? Every year? Prob want to check your history there hop. Your facts are irregular son. If you “yawn” at beating Tech, why do you guys make such a big deal about it? Once Johnson starts beating UGA every year, maybe we can drop the dogs :) Then the lynch mob will come for Richt again lol Typical bandwagon rednecks

[...] the story on Topix Posted in [...]

Paddy

December 22nd, 2009
6:29 am

Frank Wren…….I am not sure what your definition of “lay down” is. I don’t believe they quit on CMR. They did play uninspired and confused much of the year. Not at all what I am used to watching in my Dawgs. Coaching prowess? I say, coaching his worst season in Athens. You can’t build on that type of coaching or that type of playing.. Best to just forget this season and never watch the tape of ‘09 again.

savannah dawg

December 22nd, 2009
6:34 am

Just remember you can’t spell Slut without the UT

Alabama Jack

December 22nd, 2009
6:35 am

dawgs are so irrelevant and their mascot is dead.

Go Aggies !!!!!!

GTFan1

December 22nd, 2009
6:41 am

Mark, I was at the game. It was a heck of a game!

By the way, here’s my partner’s breakdown of the Orange Bowl.

http://thesportsdebates.com/2009/12/21/the-best-bcs-bowl-debate-%E2%80%93-orange-you-glad-you-decided-to-watch-this-game/

WagonMaster

December 22nd, 2009
6:46 am

Hop off I’d say all those GT hats littering the streets of Atlanta and metro interstates after the UGA game is a pretty good indication of who’s getting off the bandwagon. Since the UGA game there has been a marked decrease in anything Tech seen around town.

CheckyourselfWagonMaster

December 22nd, 2009
6:56 am

I think you are referring to all those bandwagons from last years whooping in Athens with most of the red/black faithful leaving without there trash heading straight for 316. Also taking the final off the scoreboard seconds after the game was over. YEA WE LOVE OUR DAWGS. True fans love tech, true fans love uga. So you can make your “Joke by the Coke” or “Nerd Herd” statements all you want but it won’t change the fact that GT is back and there isn’t a thing you or all the other REDNECKS can do about it. And 99.9 % UGA fanbase iare bandwagons, that’s a fact. What a joke.
Peaceout

BugKiller

December 22nd, 2009
7:05 am

Wow.

How abysmal is the state of sports in Georgia when the Bug football team from NATS, who couldn’t even beat the worst Georgia team since 1996, provided you with the best thing you saw this year, and it wasn’t even IN Georgia, it was in Florida?

Shouldn’t the best thing you’ve seen this year in Georgia sports have happened, I don’t know, IN Georgia?

Seriously, though, I can’t believe you missed it this badly.

The best thing that happened in Georgia sports this year was the press conference Mark Richt held where he fired Willie Martinez, Jon Fabris, and John Jancek and proved for the first time, that he is actually willing to put the health and well-being of his program ahead of his personal relationships.

Except when it comes to Van Hallinger. Heh.

JDM

December 22nd, 2009
7:06 am

Do you sleep with a picture of pj under your pjs

cesspoolathens

December 22nd, 2009
7:10 am

JDM, do you still go to the tanning bed with MR? Heard you guys were tight like that ;)

Leghumpper

December 22nd, 2009
7:17 am

Hey Bug Killer, at least we weren’t pre season number 1 and lose to the “2nd team” in the state. Losers. RUN RODDY RUN!!! 30-24, 45-42, Rivalry is back baby! Get ready to eat mud next year, I mean shrub. HA HA HA. have fun playing Kiffin and crew, Myer’s bunch, and LSU’s posse! Oh I can’t forget poor ole kentucky lol.