Anatomy of a heartbreaker

Trevor McNaboe

Déjà vu and heartbreak struck the Eagles once again this weekend this time at Georgia Tech.

The shootout at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field that saw a scoreline of 42-38 in favor of the home team Yellow Jackets was gut wrenching.

The fumble

The first reason for the loss is probably the most obvious of them all. The Fumble. With a little bit more than seven minutes left in the game the Eagles were deep in Georgia Tech territory with a 38-35 lead.

Favian Upshaw was in the game and had a spotless performance with the exception of the controversial fumble that was originally ruled a forward pass. An official review was issued and the call of a forward pass which is an incomplete pass, was overturned to a backwards pass which gave the Yellow Jackets the ball.

According to the NCAA Football Rule Book under the Heading 2: Rules and Definitions, Section 19, Article 2 states the following:

a. A pass is forward if the ball first strikes the ground, a player, an official or anything else beyond the spot where the ball is released. All other passes are backward passes. When in question a pass thrown in or behind the neutral zone is forward rather than a backward.

b. When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward toward the neutral zone, any intentional forward movement of his hand or arm with the ball firmly in his control starts the forward pass. If a Team B player contacts the passer or ball after forward movement begins and the ball leaves the passer’s hand, a forward pass is ruled regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player (A.R. 2-19-2-I).

c. When in question, the ball is passed and not fumbled during an attempted forward pass.

d. A snap becomes a backward pass when the snapper releases the ball (A.R. 2-23-1-I).

This misinterpretation of the rule led to a complete momentum swing along with points that Georgia Southern could have had to extend their lead.

A tale of two halves

Another huge portion of the game was the tale of two halves. Georgia Tech completely dominated the first half racking up over 385 yards and 35 points compared to the Eagles 130 yards and 10 points.

The second half Georgia Southern came out roaring with 398 yards accrued and 28 points, going 4-5 on the ever important 3rd down. In comparison Georgia Tech only managed 151 yards and 7 points, and were and abysmal 2-6 on 3rd downs.

A change of pace

When you get two option teams together you expect the ground and pound, three yards and a cloud of dust kind of pace. However the fact that both teams attempted 46 passes that netted 433 yards and five, yes five passing touchdowns.

Defensive assignment football of not over pursuing plays, and containing the outside was thrown out as both teams took to the air. Georgia Tech’s Justin Thomas went 11-24 for 188 yards and 4 TDs while the duo of Favian Upshaw and Kevin Ellison combined for 13-22 245 yards and a solo touchdown.

The quarterbacks also proved their worth on the ground as Thomas added 137 yards and a touchdown for the Jackets, and the pair of Eagles had 123 yards rushing.

While there are no moral victories in close losses it is a telling sign that Georgia Southern competing with the bigger FBS programs is no fluke.