- The game: Georgia at Georgia Tech, Nov. 25, 2017
- The moment: Last-second drive and first-down reception to set up field goal before halftime.
- Key player or players: Georgia wide receiver Javon Wims and quarterback Jake Fromm.
- What it meant: The Yellow Jackets were being pesky and had just used a long touchdown drive to move to within one score of the Bulldogs with less than a minute remaining in the first half. But that was just enough time for Georgia to manage another score in what it eventually would become another blowout victory in its march to the College Football Playoffs.
ATHENS — Georgia wide receiver Javon Wims had bigger games and flashier catches throughout the season than the ones he hauled in against Georgia Tech. But all of them seemed significant in this game, and none more so than the 23-yard pass he hauled in right before halftime against the Yellow Jackets.
Win or lose, the last regular-season game was against their state rival, and the Bulldogs were going play in the SEC Championship Game the following week. But motivation remained high for Georgia as it was looking to check yet another box on its “Revenge Tour” – the Yellow Jackets beat them the previous year in Athens – and keep alive its hopes of making the program’s first-ever appearance in the College Football Playoff.
To that point, Georgia Tech had been uncooperative. The Yellow Jackets had just used 12 plays and 6:23 of clock to drive 75 yards to score a touchdown to get within 14-7. Georgia had only 42 seconds to work with and 70 yards to go after Mecole Hardman’s kickoff return.
What followed was hardly a textbook use of clock management. Georgia coach Kirby Smart hadn’t utilized timeouts to give the Bulldogs more time while they were on defense, tight end Isaac Nauta failed to get either a first down or to get out of bounds after a 9-yard completion, and Sony Michel had done the same thing earlier in the possession. So Georgia had run out of timeouts by the time it reached the Georgia Tech 43-yard line.
Turns out that was just enough time for Jake Fromm and Wims to work their magic again.
Fromm released a quick pass for Wims over the middle before the senior wideout was even ready. In what was going to be a deep post from the left side, Fromm recognized Georgia Tech’s two-deep coverage and realized that Wims would be open only at the point when he came out of his break. The ball was on Wims before he knew it, but he managed to haul it in. He also avoided a tackle and realized that he needed to get down on the ground at the Georgia Tech 20 if the Bulldogs were going to have enough time to attempt a field goal.
The clock was at 9 seconds by the time officials reset the chains, and it sat on 3 seconds after Fromm spiked the ball. Rodrigo Blankenship’s kick was true for a 37-yard field goal, and Georgia had managed to make it a two-score game again in 42 seconds.
“He knows where I’m going to be before I even get there,” Wims marveled of the freshman quarterback after the game. “I wasn’t even coming out of my route yet and he threw it to the spot that he knew I was going to be in.”
It was one catch in a highlight-reel day for Wims. Earlier in the second quarter, he hauled in a 21-yard pass from Fromm for a touchdown, and Wims should have been awarded another one. A fantastic sideline catch-and-pirouette was ruled out at the Georgia Tech 1-yard line, despite replays that seemed to show Wims had gotten the ball inside the pylon and across the plane of the goal line before his foot slid into the boundary.
“I think I scored, but it’s all right,” said Wims, who noted that the Bulldogs scored on the next play.
Wims finished with 77 yards on 5 receptions, and Fromm was 12-of-16 passing for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns on a remarkably efficient and balanced offensive day for the Bulldogs. They also chipped away a little more at the narrative that Georgia wasn’t a team that could pass the football.
“We have some timing in our passing game,” Wims said with a grin. “We work on it every day.”
With the 38-7 win, Georgia avenged yet another loss from the 2016 season. More importantly, the Bulldogs managed to move up another spot to No. 6 in the CFP rankings to keep their playoff hopes alive. They addressed those next few spots – and another notch on their Revenge Tour belt – the following week with the rematch against Auburn in the SEC Championship Game.