Jackets finally had their day in rivalry

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Freeman helped Tech beat UGA

By Kevin Eckleberry


There were so many special moments for former Callaway Cavalier KeShun Freeman during his freshman season at Georgia Tech.

He was the ACC defensive lineman of the week after the Virginia game, he recovered the fumble that led to the game-winning touchdown against Georgia Southern, and he helped the Yellow Jackets blow out Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl.

And then there was the Georgia game.

In what was a terrific freshman season, Freeman’s finest moment may have come on a November afternoon in Athens.

Georgia Tech came into the game having lost five straight to Georgia, and it had dropped 12 of 13 in the series.

Freeman helped make sure the Yellow Jackets reversed that trend.

Freeman had five tackles, including one for a loss, as Georgia Tech won 30-24 in overtime.

Freeman’s most critical tackle came in overtime.

The Bulldogs, who were a touchdown and an extra point away from extending the Yellow Jackets’ misery in the rivalry, had it first-and-goal from their 10-yard line.

On the first-down play, quarterback Hutson Mason handed the ball off to sensational freshman running back Nick Chubb.

Freeman, a defensive end, showed off his speed and chased Chubb down and made the tackle for a 1-yard gain.

After the minimal gain, the Bulldogs were forced into an almost certain passing situation, and on second down, Mason threw an interception to D.J. White.

The Yellow Jackets had the 30-24 win, and Freeman and his teammates were able to celebrate a long-awaited win over the Bulldogs.

“Growing up, I was a Georgia fan, so it was kind of cool to play on that field, and to actually win on that field,” Freeman said. “It kind of gave me a greater sense of pride being here at Georgia Tech and we beat our in-state rival.”

Two plays stood out in that game.

First, there was the game-tying 53-yard field goal by Harrison Butker as time expired in regulation.

Then, obviously, there was the interception by White that clinched the win.

There were so many other plays that helped the Jackets get the win, though, including Freeman’s big tackle on Chubb in overtime.

That was actually the second tackle Freeman made on Chubb in overtime, and Georgia Tech held the freshman to just 12 yards rushing in the second half.

“A lot of people after the game, we were caught up in what we call the pick and the kick, and all of the history,” Freeman said. “It was funny and cool to see how many Georgia Tech fans came to me after the game, and even today, and said had you not stopped Nick Chubb on those two plays, they probably would have scored. That was big. Just thinking about it kind of gives me chills.”

Freeman and Chubb had some history.

When both players were juniors in high school, they played together in an all-star football game.

Freeman was happy to get the best of his good friend in their first meeting as college players.

“Nick Chubb and I played in the Rising Senior game when I was in the 11th grade,” Freeman said. “We were on the same team. In practice, the two of us would meet each other in the hole. It was kind of good to tackle him again.”

Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports