A few plays into the game Miami hit a big play on a blown coverage in the Yellow Jackets secondary and everyone at BDS quickly found out what it is like to be on the receiving end of one of those; quick strike touchdowns. That swiftly turned into a 19 to 0 lead and the game was poised to become a rout. No doubt payback for that chilly November, 2008 game in which we ran up and down the down the field against the U.
Once the first quarter ended, apparently Georgia Tech decided they had enough of that Miami domination and went out and scored 22 points of their own then throttled them for the rest of the half heading into the locker room with a three point lead. The first touchdown was courtesy of a forced fumble on a pass completion to a Miami receiver who after gaining about fifteen yards was run down from behind by linebacker Brandon Watts who made a nice play in dislodging the football. Shortly after another nice scoring drive by the offense including a pretty pass for a two point conversion, DB Jemea Thomas picked off a pass inside the red zone with very nice coverage on his man to end the first half.
After the offense came storming out strong in the second half with two more touchdowns that upped the lead at 36 to 19, they appeared poised to put this one away heading into the fourth quarter. Although all was going well at that point in the game, one thing that did happen prior to halftime was our right tackle and ACC offensive lineman of the week; Will Jackson limped off the field with what I thought might have just been a cramp. After he didn’t return for the second half, apparently it was something more serious than just a cramp on a hot day. Given that Georgia Tech came out and indicated that they wanted to end this game after going up by 17 points they were unable to keep that momentum going for the duration of the contest.
The defense was close to grabbing a couple of more interceptions at various points in this game as Jamal Golden had a ball in his hands that he was unable to hang onto as he was probably more surprised as anyone to have a ball thrown directly at him being only about seven yards off the line of scrimmage. Another pass went right through the hands of linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu. The sickening result of that lost opportunity was that it was completed for a positive gain at the sideline to keep a Miami drive alive. Those types of breaks tend to fuel a team when making those plays by creating turnovers can break an opponent’s will.
Miami always has great athletes and when the defense has an opportunity to make a play and get an opponent off the field they become game changers. Unfortunately, the defense was unable to get a sack on their QB all afternoon, and without being able to generate much, let alone consistent pressure on a signal caller, any QB can complete passes. Give some credit to the offensive line of the Hurricanes in doing a tremendous job all afternoon protecting their QB. It did appear though after having our defense on the field for almost the entire first quarter perhaps that sapped their energy by the time Miami was making their run in the fourth quarter.
I will say that when the defense stiffened on that next to last Miami drive in the 4th and held them to a field goal attempt that they missed it appeared that the Yellow Jackets were going to be able to survive that onslaught after all. With the time left on the clock and only 1 timeout for the U, all the GT offense needed to do was get three first downs. They were able to get two, leaving the ball around the fifty with a fourth and one. Coach Paul Johnson made the right call punting the football as there was no reason to give the Hurricanes a short field by taking a chance that frankly wasn’t wise.
So with about 2 minutes and change Miami went down and got the tying touchdown. You could feel the air going out of the crowd as this is one game that should have never gone into OT. Georgia Tech hasn’t won an OT game since that Wake Forest game in 2009 when Josh Nesbitt took the ball in a QB keeper to the right side. The situation appeared to change quickly even after losing the coin toss, when Tevin ran the option and made a nice pitch to Godhigh getting the ball down to the eleven yard line for a first down.
With two cracks for a first down at the two yard line the Yellow Jackets were unable to get any movement off the line of scrimmage with the Hurricanes defense stopping Tevin Washington both times for no gain. You have to be able to score in those situations and certainly gaining one yard is something that every offense has to be able to accomplish to win games.
This was a very strange game that resembled more of a basketball game with each team going on a pretty impressive scoring run at different stages of the game. Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets the U made the plays that counted in the end. A loss is always difficult, especially when having control of the contest and not making enough plays to finish off a very winnable game.
So now GT has shown that they can get off the mat after being down nearly three touchdowns and come back strong by scoring 36 unanswered points. So the ability is there on both sides of the football as they certainly earned my respect in not only fighting back but actually on their way to a solid win. However, they have to learn how to effectively make the necessary plays to step on an opponent’s throat and don’t let them get up off the map by delivering that knockout punch.
This loss hurts that much more given that GT is now down two games in the Coastal Division standings. But there is still lots to play for this season and the Yellow Jackets will have an another opportunity to show they want to win double digit games this season starting next week against Middle Tennessee State to end this long home stand before heading out on the road to take on a very good Clemson Team in Death Valley.
The team showed lots of fight and that is important as it wasn’t too long ago that a 19 to 0 deficit in the first quarter of a game would have had most fans either booing or headed for the exits. While Paul Johnson and this team have zero interest in anything other than winning these games, it is looking like this team is finally showing the fight to come from behind. Now they have to take that important next step and learn how to make the plays that every championship team does in order to get to that next level of success.
This was a tough agonizing loss. However, I cannot recall ever seeing too many teams storm back from a three touchdown deficit after the first quarter then score 36 unanswered points in a football game. In fact, you have to go all the way back to USC/Notre Dame in 1974 when the Trojans trailed at the half 24 to 6 before coming back to win going away 55 to 24. Georgia Tech has the ability, the fight, and all that is needed going forward is to develop the will to get it done in crunch time to win these games and have a successful season.
You can’t score that many points and hold the other team scoreless if you don’t have the players and the ability to accomplish that feat. The Yellow Jackets are now evolving into a team that has to be able to put their foot on an opponent’s throat and not let them get back into a game after seizing a lead. Go Jackets!