The score was 21-14 in Tulane’s favor in the second quarter. The Green Wave had just taken the lead over Georgia Tech one possession prior on a 61-yard touchdown pass and now had the momentum when kicker Harrison Butker missed from 33 yards, giving Tulane the ball at its 20-yard line.
Tulane had scored touchdowns on three of its first five possessions and was now trying to take a two-score lead. After an incomplete pass on first down, Tulane called for a run play to the left side on second-and-10, presumably hoping to set up a makeable third down.
However, Tech won the play by a significant margin, forcing a five-yard loss. On third-and-15, quarterback Tanner Lee overshot his intended receiver and was intercepted by Demond Smith. Tech tied the score three plays later at 21-all and Tech shut out Tulane the rest of the way for a 38-21 victory.
A closer look at the pivotal five-yard loss that set up the third-and-15.
Tech is in a standard 4-3 alignment with KeShun Freeman at left end, Adam Gotsis at defensive tackle, Shawn Green at nose tackle and Roderick Rook-Chungong at the right end. From left to right, Tyler Marcordes, Anthony Harrell and Paul Davis are at linebacker. Tulane is in a single-back, double-tight end alignment.
At the snap, Harrell, who had walked up to the line pre-snap, and Davis bring pressure up the middle. Rook-Chungong goes wide, taking on left tackle Arturo Uzdavinis (68).
Green is being double teamed by the left guard and center (Nathan Shienle, No. 66, back to camera). For the moment, Harrell (51) has a free run up the gap. On the back side of the play, Freeman is taking on the tight end (Charles Jones II, No. 84) and Gotsis is engaging the right tackle (Sean Donnelly, No. 70).
The angle makes it a little unclear what’s happening in the interior, but Rook-Chungong is winning his battle with Uzdavinis, setting the edge on the play side. Rook-Chungong said he thought that Uzdavinis was trying to use a reach block, in which the offensive lineman turns the defender back inside, “but I was so wide, that he couldn’t really reach me, so I just tried to set the edge.” Harrell (51) is picked up by the right guard, and Davis (not visible, but I think right next to Harrell) is also occupying a block, freeing Green to a single block.
Rook-Chungong has pushed Uzdavinis back about three yards. Now single blocked, Green likewise is moving upfield against left guard Colton Hanson to cut down a possible cutback lane. And, perhaps worst for Tulane, running back Lazedrick Thompson appears to stumble as he tries to run outside of Rook-Chungong. Again, the angle isn’t great, so it’s hard to tell how much space Thompson has between his tackle and guard, but Rook-Chungong said he was surprised that he didn’t try to cut it back.The right tackle blocking Gotsis has disengaged to block downfield. Davis (40) is trying to get to the ball. Gotsis (42) and Freeman (96) are pursuing from the backside.
Rook-Chungong has now wrapped up Thompson and Green is slipping past Hanson (61) and is closing in. Said Rook-Chungong, “I just tried to get off the block, ran into him, held him up and waited for the cavalry.” With Harrell and Davis coming up the middle, Tech was left vulnerable on its right flank. Had Uzdavinis closed off Rook-Chungong or driven him back, Thompson might be at the 20 by the left hashmark with room to run. That said, the pressure from Davis and Harrell also gave Green more opportunity to get off his block and disrupt the play.
Green has reached the ball carrier. Freeman, Gotsis, Davis and Harrell rally to the ball.
Green (by the 12-yard line) can’t bring him down, but Gotsis, Davis, Freeman and Harrell have converged on Rook-Chungong and Thompson.
Play is over for a five-yard loss. Said defensive coordinator Ted Roof, “It was a stretch play and we ran an inside pressure and we were angling (Rook-Chungong) out, so his job was to set the edge. He did a nice job, was right where he was supposed to be, and, lo and behold, when you do what you’re supposed to do, good things happen usually.”