ATLANTA - On one knee and holding the hands of teammates, David Montgomery felt that his homecoming would soon become extra, extra special.
"I thought he was going to make it and that we'd win in overtime," the Gardner-Webb running back from North Gwinnett said of Ryan Gates' last-seconds field goal attempt.
Michael Hanna, Gardner-Webb's All-Big South punter from Collins Hill, was almost ready to celebrate like never before.
"I was hoping that our dream was going to come true," Hanna said. "It was a magical day."
Instead, Gates' attempt from 43 yards out was partially blocked and Georgia Tech escaped with a 10-7 victory Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Gardner-Webb - a little NCAA Division I-FCS school from Boiling Springs, N.C. - had almost pulled off an upset for the ages.
"I know we lost, but it still feels like we won," Hanna said. "I'm sure that we are the only ones who thought we had a chance of even keeping the score close."
Gardner-Webb came in 2-3, with losses to Tennessee Tech, Sam Houston State and Charleston Southern. Georgia Tech was 4-1 and supposedly one of the top teams in the ACC.
"Not many people have even heard of Gardner-Webb," said Montgomery, a junior who was the Runnin' Bulldogs leading rusher last season. "We wanted to show that we were a good team and belonged here.
"None of us got recruited by Georgia Tech or other big schools. As soon as we found out last spring that we were playing this game, everyone really got excited.
Especially the players from Georgia, who make up a big part of the Gardner-Webb roster.
There are 16 from the Atlanta area on the Runnin' Bulldogs' two-deep list, with wide receiver Jordan Peyton of Collins Hill joining Hanna and Montgomery from Gwinnett County.
The only thing that would have made the timing of the game at Georgia Tech better is if DuVaughn Flagler from Norcross was still playing for Gardner-Webb. The Big South's all-time leading receiver finished his career last year.
Montgomery, who rushed for 29 net yards on 11 carries and caught a short pass, had 28 family members and friends at the game. Hanna topped him with 47 and put on a show.
The senior punted 10 times for a 45.8 average, booming kicks of 53, 55 and 61 yards to keep Georgia Tech backed up most of the game.
"This was probably my best game," Hanna said. "To have it here with everyone watching was really special."
Even if the dream of all dreams didn't quite come true at the end.