After a year of near misses, near escapes, and gazes to the Heavens to ask if "this" could really be happening again, with "this" meaning a variety of things both good and bad, it really had to end this way.
With Ramik Wilson batting the ball into the air. With me watching Yellow Jacket receivers attempting to converge on it. With me thinking "Oh no, not this again." Wondering if another fluky tipped ball would cost us a victory over a bitter rival. Whether a bounce of the ball would cause yet another gritty, gutsy come back by what's left of the 2013 Georgia Bulldogs to go for naught.
But it didn't. Maybe that means something for the future. Maybe it doesn't. Only time will tell. But right here and right now, it's great to be a Georgia Bulldog. It's great to beat your instate rival, on his own field, in a game which, for the vast majority of the evening, he was smugly certain he would win. It's great to be a Georgia Bulldog. And it's great to beat Georgia Tech. On a boat. With a goat. In a hat. With a bat. After a Jacket choke. At the Joke by Coke. It's great to be a Georgia Bulldog.
But before we sink deep into revelry, a few points of order. First, an immense amount of credit needs to go to Coach Paul Johnson, whose team broke with season-long tendencies then executed on a game plan which allowed them to sprint out to a lead that the Bulldogs very nearly did not overcome.
A bit of blame for this can be pinned on a young secondary which just wasn't ready to defend the Yellow Jacket passing attack or, really, any Yellow Jacket passing attack. Sheldon Dawson legitimately looked as if he'd never seen a slant route before on at least two occasions. To be sure, one has to question how much of that devolves upon the coaching staff. The problem with that is, Georgia Tech really hasn't thrown it this season. You make teams beat you by leaving their comfort zones. You don't let them do what they want to. Georgia Tech has spent the entire season wanting to establish the fullback up the middle and the pitch to Godhigh around the end. Georgia stopped those things beautifully all night.
They then regrouped at the half and played much better on passing downs in the second half. On the Jackets' last 3 offensive series Lee was 0-3 passing with an interception. You can't do much better than that. If you give Todd Grantham the blame for what came before, I think you likewise have to give him credit for how things ended.
In other news, Bulldog fans who had been in a blind panic about the prospect of Hutson Mason taking over in 2014 should feel a little better after this one. Mason was 22 of 36 in regulation for 299 yards, with at least 4 of those incompletions being flat dropped by his receivers. He led a roaring comeback that got the 'Dawgs into overtime, and then let Todd Gurley, II do the rest. If you're judging purely by outcome, that was a really good plan.
Mason also threw some really, really nice touch passes, the kind you don't expect a guy making his first start, on enemy turf, and coming out of a deep hole to make. I'm not saying the kid is Peyton Manning. But I am saying we just might be okay.
The Bulldogs run their record to 8-4 overall and can now wait to find out where they'll be bowling. Hutson Mason and the young defense will get 15 more practices to start getting things ready for next year. Make no mistake, 2014 begins now. Until later . . .