After Georgia Tech had tied the score at 24 with 2:03 to play in the fourth quarter, Virginia Tech began its drive to re-take the lead and potentially win the game at its 25-yard game. However, depending on one’s perspective, the Hokies made another critical error or the Yellow Jackets produced another clutch play, as cornerback D.J. White intercepted quarterback Michael Brewer at the 40-yard line to return the ball to the Jackets.
Pre-snap, Georgia Tech lines up in its nickel alignment with both safeties well off the line of scrimmage. White is backed off wide receiver Cam Phillips at the top of the shot at the 32-yad line.
After the snap, White is not backpedaling, showing that he will be defending the left (from the offense’s perspective) flat area.
White shows clearly he is defending the flat as Phillips pulls up his route. Linebacker Paul Davis likewise shows zone coverage at the 33-yard line, making an out route to the sideline to the slot receiver, tight end Bucky Hodges, look seemingly like the better option on that side.
As Brewer prepares to release, White begins to break back. “We were running Cover 2, and I just pretty much played high-low,” White said. “The No. 1 receiver sat down and ran a hitch, and I saw the No. 2 receiver coming in behind me, so instead of jumping the flat, I just sank and he threw it up there and I just went up and made a play.”
Brewer releases. Beyond the screen, Hodges is cutting to the sideline, and White makes his break on the ball. On the line, defensive tackle Adam Gotsis (hand in the air) has driven center Caleb Farris straight back and is collapsing the pocket right in front of Brewer. Better protection might have given Brewer more time to check down to fullback Sam Rogers, who released late out of the backfield, at the 25-yard line.
White prepares to make a play on the ball. Davis, at the 40, has also retreated, so it’s misleading, but Rogers is at the 29 and might have made for a safe choice for the first play of a potential game-winning drive.
White makes a superior play, elevating out of his backpedal to undercut Hodges and latch onto the ball as it flew over his head. It gives the Jackets the ball back with 1:58 to play at the Hokies’ 40-yard line. Georgia Tech then drives in for the game-winning field-goal as time expired. “We’d been playing a lot of one-high safety, and we’d gotten into some two-deep. (White) was an underneath player,” coach Paul Johnson said. “He was the read (for Brewer) on the corner route. He baited (Brewer) pretty good and he made a good play. That was a nice play. It was a good call because they’d been wearing the flats out on us.”