Faced with a chance to kneel down the ball and run out the clock in what would have been a game-winner for No. 17 Miami, head coach Mario Cristobal decided to call a third-and-10 from the Georgia Tech 30-yard line The dribble at No. 1 ultimately cost the Hurricanes the win. Georgia Tech ended up winning 23-20 on Saturday night thanks to an incredible last-second touchdown pass — one that the Yellow Jackets never should have attempted.
With 10 seconds left in the game, Yellow Jackets quarterback Haynes King fired a shotgun blast at the Miami 44-yard line. His initial reading didn’t open, so he crawled to the right. At the same time, wide receiver Christian Leary rushed to the end zone, caught the ball and rushed into the end zone. Rather than risk having the extra point blocked, the Yellow Jackets kneeled the ball on the extra point attempt. Miami got the ball back with 2 seconds left, but Georgia Tech’s defense held on.
Perhaps even more unlikely than the touchdown was how Georgia Tech won the game. With less than a minute left in the game, the Heat had the ball and led 20-17. Georgia Tech had no timeouts remaining. However, instead of kneeling down to the ball in a triumphant gesture, Cristobal decided to attack. Running back Don Chaney Jr. fumbled the ball and Georgia Tech recovered it, a play that stood after official review.
“When the game started, the time was supposed to be 1 minute and 57 seconds, and we could take about 1 minute and 27 seconds and recalibrate,” Cristobal said after the game. “We should have called a timeout at the end. We thought he could score first and we talked about having the ball with two hands, but it wasn’t good enough. That’s it, we dropped the ball and they went 75 yards on two plays, no excuses.”
“We’re moving a bunch of stuff and it’s going great. I’m not going to make excuses about it and say we should do this or that. Sometimes we can get carried away. But I should step in and take action and say, ‘Hey, take a knee. ‘ “
In the crazy turn of events, Almost the exact same thing happened Cristobal was then coach at the University of Oregon, which lost to Stanford in overtime in 2018. In that game, Cristobal’s Oregon team led Stanford 31-28 in the final minutes. While Stanford had a timeout that would have kept Oregon from completely running out the clock, a few kneels could have resulted in an Oregon punt with 10 seconds left, giving Stanford little time to get the win. Get into shooting position. Instead, Oregon gave up second-and-2 to C.J. Verdell, who fumbled the ball. Stanford recovered and shot to send the game into overtime, winning the game 38-31. The decision not to kneel was questioned at the time, but certainly made more sense than the decision against Georgia Tech, as the Hurricanes could have ended the game by kneeling.