Faith is very important to Jack Podlesny. After his huge performance against Cincinnati, it’s easy to see why Georgia teammates had such a strong belief in Podlesny.
With just seconds left in the game and Georgia trailing by two, Georgia redshirt sophomore Jack Podlesny trouted out for a 53-yard field goal attempt. If he were to make the kick, it would be a new career-long and the longest game-winning field goal for Georgia since Kevin Butler’s iconic 60-yard make to beat Clemson in 1984.
Podlesny drilled the kick, hitting the ball right down the middle and actually doinking it off the camera stationed behind the goalpost in the end zone.
DAWGS ON TOP 🔥
Jack Podlesny hits a career-long 53-yard FG to cap the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl comeback for Georgia! pic.twitter.com/eMPZjKbW3f
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 1, 2021
The make secured the win for Georgia in a thrilling 24-21 comeback for the Bulldogs. It was the first time in his life that he had ever made a game-winning field goal.
“Once we kind of got there, I tried to slow my breathing because I didn’t want to rush anything, I didn’t want to overcompensate for anything,” Podlesny said on the kick. “Snap from Payne Walker and hold from Jake, unbelievable. I tried to follow through with the kick and it went in.”
Georgia drove 44 yards in 80 seconds to set-up Podlesny’s game-winning field goal. Georgia had a chance to get more yards and make an easier kick for Podlesny. But quarterback JT Daniels was always aware of Podlesny’s range and his abilities.
“I trust in Pod about as much as I can. I felt no pressure to try and make a play I didn’t need to when we were on the 35,” Daniels said. “That’s what Pod does. We see it every day in practice. He’s always on time, always doing his job.”
— Rodrigo Blankenship (@RodTheKicker3) January 1, 2021
The Bulldogs had trailed for the entire second half. Luke Fickell was 27-0 as Cincinnati’s head coach when holding a second-half lead.
But the Bulldogs never lost faith and kept fighting. It would’ve been easy to roll-over much like how Florida did in the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma. The Bulldogs were without five key players due to opt-outs. Then Mark Webb was a late scratch as he had a walking boot on his left foot. Nakobe Dean told reporters that defensive lineman Travon Walker was unavailable due to COVID-19.
Georgia battled back, even after not playing a perfect game. Georgia coach Kirby Smart acknowledged this wasn’t the best effort from Georgia in a trying 2020 season.
When it mattered most though Smart and multiple teammates had belief in Podlesny that he would come through. No one needed to say anything to him prior to the kick, as Smart didn’t want to put any more pressure on the kicker from St. Simons, Ga.
After the game-winning make, Podlesny was pretty happy to hear from his teammates.
“I mean, just the endless support from everyone coming up, giving me hugs, high fives, everything,” Podlesny said. “But one thing I think just standing out the most was people coming up and telling me the glory goes to God, that God had my back there.”
Podlesny isn’t on scholarship yet but he shouldn’t have to wait much longer after this season where he held down kicking duties from start to finish. He connected on 13 of his 16 attempts this season, including all three in the win over Cincinnati. His previous long came on a 51-yard attempt against the Tennessee Volunteers.
The 2020 season was an incredibly trying one for just about the entire sport of college football. The 2021 Peach Bowl against Cincinnati was perhaps the perfect microcosm of Georgia’s 2020. The offense sputtered at times. Its defense was great for much of the game, but it gave a big 79-yard touchdown run to open the second half.
After the loss to Florida dropped Georgia to 4-2, it would’ve been easy for the Bulldogs to pack it in. Instead, the Bulldogs won their final four games of the season and will finish ranked inside the top-10.
The Bulldogs kept the faith throughout the season. In the end it was rewarded for that belief and spirit.
Podlesny, wearing a cross necklace while speaking with reporters in postgame interviews, was perhaps the perfect person to hammer home that message and kickoff the 2021 calendar year.
“Just trying to remember why I’m here,” Podlesny said on what he was thinking after his season-ending kick. “God put me here, God is good, because it’s just amazing to be here.”
GOD IS GOOD
— Jack Podlesny (@JackPodlesny) January 1, 2021
Jack Podlesny talks about game-winning field goal
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