ATLANTA -- Al Golden didn’t have to get a close look to see what his players were frantically waving toward the bench about.
The left ankle of receiver Malcolm Lewis clearly wasn’t pointing in the direction it was supposed to be — a gruesome sight very few inside Bobby Dodd Stadium could stomach as the freshman from Miramar lay on the ground in agony.
“You could see from about 50 yards away that something was not right,” Golden said. “When I got out there I just wanted the kid to understand we were there for him. I think the medical people did a great job to get it in place and get it back in there. I don’t know what it’s going to mean for his health. But what a great job by our medical people to do what they did.”
UM announced Lewis sustained a dislocated ankle, but there was no compound fracture or breaking of the skin. He was hurt when he caught a 12-yard pass from quarterback Stephen Morris and his left ankle was caught between the turf and the body of Georgia Tech outside linebacker Brandon Watts.
UM players immediately began signaling to the sideline and trainers rushed out onto the field. While Golden hovered over Lewis and tried to call him down, his teammates couldn’t bear to look. Many took a knee and began praying.
Lewis was eventually put on a board and lifted onto the flatbed of a truck where his injured leg was placed into an air cast. He lifted both of his arms and displayed fists as he was carted off the field. The crowd stood and cheered in support.
“Malcolm is just one of my closest friends, somebody I grew up with,” said tailback Duke Johnson, who shook his head in disbelief. “Just to see him down there in pain and not able to help himself, it just hurt me.”
UM scored moments later on a 1-yard touchdown run by Mike James to take a commanding 19-0 lead. But they were clearly shaken. The Yellow Jackets responded by scoring 22 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a three-point lead into halftime.
UM punter Dalton Botts was also injured in the first half. Botts, later seen on the sidelines on crutches, was injured while making a tackle downfield to stop Jamal Golden on a 56-yard return that led to Tech’s eventual go-ahead touchdown. Golden said Botts injured his ankle, but had no update.
Senior receiver Davon Johnson had a career-high seven catches for 107 yards in Saturday’s win, including five catches for 66 yards on the game-tying drive right before the end of regulation.
“He’s earning the right to be on the field in that opportunity by what he’s doing in practice,” Golden said. “I know he’s not a guy who has been in that situation before. But he deserves that opportunity and he’s come through for us. I’m real proud of him. I know he was real emotional because that’s the first time he’s been in that position with the game on the line.”
Johnson came in with just nine catches for 117 yards in his career.
“It was very emotional for me,” Johnson said. “This was my dream school I always wanted to make big plays for this school. And today I made the big plays.”
• Senior tackle Ben Jones also was a big-time contributor according to Golden.
“He played a lot of football for us and did really well,” Golden said. “We had a few guys dinged up at tackle and he did well. Again, I just think we stayed together.”