The Miami Hurricanes were on track for their fifth consecutive victory, but instead, coach Mario Cristobal found himself defending an indefensible decision. His coaching blunder was so significant that he didn’t even attempt to justify it. The Hurricanes were leading Georgia Tech 20-17 with less than a minute left, and all they had to do was kneel the ball out since Georgia Tech had used up all of their timeouts.
However, Cristobal inexplicably chose to run the ball on third-and-10, risking a fumble and handing possession back to Georgia Tech. Predictably, that is exactly what happened. Running back Don Chaney Jr. lost possession, and despite suggestions that he was down on contact, the play was upheld after an official review.
As a result, Miami turned the ball over, and Georgia Tech took advantage, with quarterback Haynes King finding wide receiver Christian Leary for the go-ahead touchdown. Georgia Tech made sure to avoid the same mistake by kneeling on the extra-point attempt, preventing a blocked extra point and limiting the Hurricanes to just two seconds to work with on the restart.
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The Georgia Tech defense held strong, sealing a stunning defeat for the Hurricanes and forcing Cristobal to admit that he had made a terrible judgement call. “When the drive started, it was going to be at 1:57 and we could burn about 1:27 off, but then it was recalibrated,” Cristobal said in his post-game interview. He also acknowledged that they should have taken a timeout at the end. “We thought he could get the first down, and we talked about two hands on the ball, but that isn’t good enough. That’s it, we fumbled the ball and they went 75 yards in two plays. There is no excuse,” Cristobal added. Eventually, he conceded that they should have taken the knee.
Alex Martin is your guide to the global phenomenon of football. With a focus on international leagues and tournaments, he provides match commentary, player interviews, and behind-the-scenes stories from the world of football.