The point-after attempt is an otherwise routine football play, at least in the college game.
A 17-yard attempt, it’s practically a guaranteed point for any college kicker. But there was a bit of a bigger celebration than usual when sophomore kicker William Ham hit his first career extra point in the first quarter of Georgia’s 33-24 win over North Carolina at the Georgia Dome on Saturday.
For Ham, a Stratford alum, it was his first career point as Georgia’s place-kicker. After making the kick, tight end Jeb Blazevich ran to him and offered a congratulatory bear hug.
Ham said he did his part to treat his first-ever game action like any other instance where he’s kicked.
"You just gotta treat it like practice," Ham said. "I prepared for 28 practices and I just had to do what I’ve been doing for a thousand kicks. It was a great learning experience for my mentality."
In addition to four extra points, Ham made one of two field goals. His first attempt was a 42-yarder in the third quarter that missed to the left.
Ham said everything about the kick felt good – considering he got it deep and high enough – except for one crucial mistake. Ham lifted his head up a bit too soon, a fundamental error that caused his kick to stay left of the goalpost.
"I thought I hit it pretty well but I looked up pretty quick," Ham said. "That’s a kicker’s first mistake. That’s what I got to work on, just practicing every day."
Ham made up for the miss with a 29-yard make in the fourth quarter. This field goal came at a crucial time and put Georgia in the lead 26-24.
"I learned from my miss and knew what I did wrong," Ham said. "I went back out there and tried to make it right."
Ham also handled three kickoffs in the second half, with one of those being a directional kick that North Carolina wasn’t aligned properly to handle. The kick forced receiver Khris Francis to run to his left to try and field it. Francis couldn’t handle the kick and dropped it out of bounds, setting North Carolina up on its own 12-yard line.
This kickoff, followed by two self-inflicted North Carolina penalties, helped lead to linebacker Roquan Smith’s safety.
Ham became Georgia’s place-kicker after spending a year away from football. After walking on as a freshman in 2014, Ham said he questioned his love for football and decided to leave the team before the 2015 season.
But while he was back home in Macon for the summer, a replay of a Georgia-Florida game came on at a restaurant, which gave him the itch to return.
Little did Ham know in that moment then that he’d wind up being Georgia’s starting place-kicker by the time his comeback to the football team was complete.
"Those were my friends out there," Ham said. "I really missed playing with them."