Florida State stunned by Georgia Tech after blocked FG leads to winning TD
ATLANTA (AP) — Roberto Aguayo had never missed a kick in the fourth quarter for Florida State.
At the very least, the No. 9 Seminoles seemed assured of going to overtime against Georgia Tech.
Instead, they lost the game.
Aguayo’s 56-yard field goal attempt was blocked, and it only got worse from there for FSU. Lance Austin scooped up the loose ball and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the game, giving the Yellow Jackets a stunning 22-16 upset Saturday night.
With Kick Six, The Sequel, Florida State’s national championship hopes were dealt a devastating blow.
"We needed to cover it," coach Jimbo Fisher said. "That’s finishing the game. We know when there’s a blocked kick, you’ve got to cover it. We talk about it all the time."
They’ll be talking about this game for years.
The Seminoles (6-1, 4-1) had lost only once in the last 2 1-2 years, and they hadn’t dropped an Atlantic Coast Conference game since 2012. They came in with a 28-game winning streak against ACC opponents, looking to tie the mark that Florida State set by winning its first 29 conference games after joining the league in 1992.
That’s gone now.
A run at the national championship may be, too, after falling to Georgia Tech (3-5, 1-4).
The Yellow Jackets came in with a five-game losing streak, their longest skid since 1994.
"We still have a chance to be a very good football team," Fisher insisted. "A lot of our goals are still out there. Our main goal is to try and be the best we can be. That hasn’t been there."
Indeed, Florida State had plenty of chances to put this one away, even though they were sluggish offensively and failed to build on two first-half interceptions that led to 10 points.
Leading 16-13 in the fourth quarter, the Seminoles drove deep into Georgia Tech territory looking for a clinching score. On third-and-goal from the 10, Everett Golson’s deflected pass led to Florida State’s first offensive turnover of the season — and first turnover of any kind since their first game.
Jamal Golden made the interception in the back of the end zone after the ball was knocked away from Travis Rudolph, an omen of what was to come for the Seminoles.
Justin Thomas, who had a 60-yard touchdown run for the Yellow Jackets after those two early interceptions, kept the game alive by converting on fourth-and-six from the Georgia Tech 41. The quarterback hit Brad Stewart on a 36-yard pass that set up Harrison Butker’s third field goal of the game, a 35-yarder that tied it up with 54 seconds left.
With two timeouts, Florida State still had time to get into field goal range for Aguayo, who had already made three in the game and was 60 of 66 in his career. But the Seminoles didn’t get quite close enough, forcing him to drive the ball a little lower than usual on what would have been the longest kick of his career.
Fisher was confident it would go through.
So was Aguayo.
"I thought I hit the ball well," the kicker said. "I looked up and didn’t see it flying down the middle. Then I saw it on the ground. A lot of their guys, a lot of our guys thought it was dead. It was kind of confusing."
Turns out, the Seminoles didn’t even get a shot at overtime.
Austin made sure of that.
"When I picked it up and started running up the field, I saw a lot of green," the sophomore said. "So I was like, `OK, I can return it.’"
That he did.
All the way to the end zone.
"I go from yelling `get away from it’ to `run, run, run,’" Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson quipped.
This was no laughing matter for Florida State, which could still get back into the national race with a victory at No. 6 Clemson in two weeks.
"We can’t let one loss become two," Fisher said.
The white-clad Georgia Tech fans poured onto the field after Austin scored, celebrating what was surely the most improbable win in school history. They were still milling about when a replay of the final play, complete with the call by the Yellow Jackets’ radio crew, was played on the video board.
They cheered wildly as Austin zigzagged down the field all over again on the big screen at the opposite end of the stadium.
It was a finish reminiscent of Auburn running back a missed field goal 109 yards to beat Alabama two seasons ago. That was the original Kick Six, and ended the Crimson Tide’s hopes of a third straight national title.
The Seminoles can only hope to write a different ending.