The past 10 years have had their ups and downs for Georgia Tech football. The span includes the entire tenures of two coaches (Chan Gailey and Paul Johnson), only one season ending under .500, an ACC title and a BCS bid. But, some games were more memorable than others.
Sometimes a football game has something special that leaves a lasting mark on a fan's memory. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have certainly had their share of those types of games over the past decade. Choosing a favorite, to a fan, is like asking to picking a favorite child, but some memories are unmistakably special.
Some games are just different.
Sure 17-3 doesn't sound like a magical, exciting score for a college football game, but this particular win had historical significance that was much greater than face value.
In a coming-out party of sorts for highly touted freshman Reggie Ball, the Yellow Jackets hadn't played ancient rival Auburn since 1987, and hadn't beaten the Tigers since 1978. And like any knowledgeable fanbase, the kids in the stands who weren't even alive back then seemed to have been born waiting on just that very moment.
The goal posts came down at Grant Field, and for a brief moment in time, Reggie Ball was a hero at Georgia Tech.
When your kicker throws a touchdown pass you know you've had an incredible game. Coach Paul Johnson has coached some doozies in his day, but this was one for the ages.
In the second game of the season, the Jackets found themselves in an early conference battle in Thursday night prime time, and the white-out clad fanbase was rabid to help continue Clemson's Atlanta woes.
As the entire college football world looked on, Tech went up 24-0 early in the second quarter with a Scott Blair field goal. Blair had already thrown a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on a fake field goal near the end of the first.
Though Clemson mounted a gutsy comeback, it would not be enough. The Jackets went on to win a vital conference game in grand fashion and for the entire nation to see.
What's better to Tech fans than beating Clemson? How about beating them twice and coming out with a trophy and a BCS bowl game for it?
Tech would win 39-34 in a real barn-burner, but the stats aren't what was special about this game in the end. Jonathan Dwyer versus C.J. Spiller was like an ACC running game showcase.
The gigantic Clemson defensive front chasing Josh Nesbitt through his mental option cycles, and Derrick Morgan on the other end busting through the Clemson line time after time, left both sides knowing that they'd given their everything by game's end.
Sure the trophy and Orange Bowl trip sweetened the memory a bit, but this win tasted well enough already even if it had meant nothing.
Since its inception, the Atlantic Coast Conference football championship game has never had a Coastal Division champion that wasn't a "Tech." This game has decided the Coastal representative to the title game every single year of its existence.
In 2009, the Yellow Jackets had already sustained a disappointing loss to Miami on the road, but were on a three-game win streak by the time the Virginia Tech Hokies rolled into town. They were undefeated and ranked in the top five in the nation.
The game got off to a slow offensive start, but the Jackets hit pay dirt first with a second-quarter touchdown to go up 7-3. Two more touchdowns in the third by Georgia Tech would all but put the game away as the Yellow Jackets pulled away to a 28-23 victory and an early route to Tampa for the title game.
The goal posts came down for perhaps the final time ever at Grand Field, and the remains were sawed up on the President's lawn and distributed accordingly.
Even fans too young to actually remember this game, somehow remember this game and "The Catch."
What makes this game great isn't just the fact that Georgia Tech beat rival Clemson, and on the road, but that it was done in such magnificent fashion, and almost literally at the end of the game.
Clemson has the win in their grasp when, on fourth down, their punter botches the snap, recovering near the goal line for a turnover on downs. Sophomore Reggie Ball takes one snap, turns one loose to the corner of the end zone and Calvin "Megatron" Johnson snags it down for a game-winning touchdown.
Some fans dub this game the "Miracle on North Avenue."
By the end of the first quarter, Florida State was up 10-3, but Tech soon came back to tie the game at 10 all.
The Jackets didn't look back, going up 24-10 with 9:30 to go in the second quarter. But, as had happened in every single meeting since Bobby Bowden took over at FSU, the Jackets started finding a way to blow it.
Bowden took over at FSU in 1976. Georgia Tech hadn't beaten the Seminoles since 1975, but today would be different. Paul Johnson had exhausted his coaching book, but lady luck hadn't shown her face quite yet.
Tech was up 31-28 with less than a minute left, and the Noles had the ball 2nd-and-goal from the three-and-a-half yard line. Christian Ponder takes the snap at 0:53 as the clock ran and handed the ball off to Marcus Simms, who had an almost clear path to the end zone and a sure victory.
However, freshman Cooper Taylor got Simms with a headshot to the ball, and caused the football to pop up into the end zone to be recovered by Rashaad Reid.
The once sick-to-its-stomach crowd cheered in disbelief, and the Jackets ran out the clock for a field-storming victory for the first time in over 30 years over FSU.
What really needs to be said?
Tech hadn't beaten Georgia since 2000, and was in danger of giving up the longest win streak in the series at eight with a loss.
If you're reading this and don't know the details of this game, just look it up. If you didn't see it, then you missed out. If you did, then you saw one of the most epic second-half comebacks in Georgia Tech history, and saw Roddy Jones run nearly all the way back to Atlanta.
Tech fans will cherish this win above all because winning it was a great thing, but they hold it dear because it doesn't happen as often as it used to.