Jackets Take Down No. 17 Virginia Tech in Thriller at Bobby Dodd

Nov. 11, 2017

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ATLANTA (AP) — TaQuon Marshall made the most of his only two completions.

And, finally, Georgia Tech won a close game.

Marshall threw a pair of long scoring passes, including an 80-yarder to Ricky Jeune with 6 1/2 minutes remaining , and Ajani Kerr swatted away a fourth-down pass in the end zone to preserve Georgia Tech’s 28-22 upset of No. 17 Virginia Tech on Saturday.

This one felt especially good for the Yellow Jackets (5-4, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had lost three games by a total of six points .

”Proud of our guys,” coach Paul Johnson said. ”They showed a lot of grit and determination.”

It looked as though Georgia Tech was heading for another excruciating defeat when Virginia Tech rallied from a 21-9 deficit in the second half.

The Hokies (7-3, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) went ahead 22-21 when Greg Stroman returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown off a terrible pass by Marshall with 7:27 left.

The Georgia Tech quarterback made up for his mistake just two snaps later, after the Yellow Jackets fumbled the kickoff but fortuitously managed to recover after a wild scramble. Jeune got loose behind the secondary, hauled in the long throw and just managed to stick the ball inside the pylon before tumbling out of bounds.

It was the longest touchdown pass of the season for the Yellow Jackets (5-4, 4-3), surpassing Marshall’s 60-yard scoring play to Brad Stewart early in the second half . The quarterback finished 2 of 8 passing out of the triple-option.

”He made, what, two completions and they were both for touchdowns and it ended up being 140 yards?” Johnson said. ”We’ll live with that. That’s a pretty good average.”

Marshall also had a pair of short touchdown runs.

On its final possession, Virginia Tech converted a pair of fourth-down plays and faced third-and-1 at the Georgia Tech 32 with plenty of time to deal the home team another tough loss.

But, on a day when he made a number of curious decisions, Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente called a pair of passes rather than running for the first down. Both were incomplete, including a deep pass down the middle for Cam Phillips that Kerr knocked away.

”We got the best matchup we could possibly get,” Fuente said. ”That was as good a look as we were going to get.”

The Yellow Jackets rushed for 261 yards, led by KirVonte Benson with 86 yards on 22 carries. Nathan Cottrell had a 69-yard run, setting up Georgia Tech’s first touchdown, a 3-yard run by Marshall. The quarterback also punched it over from the 1.

Georgia Tech appeared to be driving for a clinching touchdown late in the third quarter. But a chop-block penalty against center Kenny Cooper knocked the Yellow Jackets back 15 yards, and Brenton King missed a 43-yard field goal attempt.

The Hokies took advantage – with a big helping hand from Georgia Tech.

On third-and-14, Josh Jackson threw a pass into heavy coverage. A.J. Gray and Lamont Simmons both had a shot at picking it off, but wound up tipping the ball to Eric Kumah for a 26-yard completion – eerily similar to a play that led to a 25-24 loss to Miami .

Jalen Holston’s 8-yard touchdown run on the final play of the third quarter brought the Hokies within 21-16.

THE TAKEAWAY

Virginia Tech: Any hopes of landing a major bowl bid faded away with the Hokies’ second straight loss. A 28-10 setback at Miami the previous week knocked them out of contention for the ACC title. ”Mad, upset, disappointing,” Kumah said. ”We felt like we should have won.”

Georgia Tech: By knocking off a ranked team, the Yellow Jackets gave their bowl prospects a huge boost. One more win will ensure postseason eligibility.

SECOND-GUESSING FUENTE

A couple of questionable decisions by Fuente cost the Hokies crucial points in the first half.

Trailing 7-3 in the second quarter, the Virginia Tech decided to go for it on fourth-and-2 at the 8, instead of taking a chip-shot field. Backup quarterback AJ Bush attempted to run right, spun back to the left and was thrown for a 3-yard loss.

Later in the period, after Sean Savoy scored on a 14-yard run to pull the Hokies within 14-9, Fuente passed on the extra point and strangely decided to go for a 2-point conversion. Again, Virginia Tech was stopped, leaving Georgia Tech with a 14-9 halftime lead.

”I didn’t feel like we were going to have tons of opportunities to score,” Fuente said.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: Returns home to face ACC rival Pitt on Saturday.

Georgia Tech: Hits the road for its final conference game against Duke.

Postgame Notes

Team

  • Georgia Tech moved to 5-4 on the season and avoided dropping below .500 for the first time since 2015.
  • Georgia Tech pulled within one win of becoming bowl eligible for the 20th time in the last 21 seasons.
  • At 4-3 in ACC play, Georgia Tech matched its conference win total from last season with one league game left to play (next Saturday at Duke).
  • Georgia Tech clinched a .500 record or better in ACC play for the 22nd time in the last 23 seasons.
  • Georgia Tech extended its home winning streak to eight games, which is its longest since Nov. 21, 1998-Sept. 2, 2000. The eight-game home winning streak is currently tied for the fifth-longest in the country (Wisconsin carried an eight-game home winning streak into Saturday’s home game versus Iowa).
  • Georgia Tech moved to 9-4 versus nationally ranked opponents at Bobby Dodd Stadium in 10 seasons under head coach Paul Johnson.
  • The win was Georgia Tech’s first of the season over a ranked opponent (1-3).
  • The win was Georgia Tech’s 12th over a ranked opponent in 10 seasons under Johnson.
  • The win was Georgia Tech’s 92nd all-time over a ranked opponent.
  • Georgia Tech beat Virginia Tech for the third time in the last four seasons.
  • Georgia Tech beat Virginia Tech at home for the first time since 2009, snapping a three-game losing streak against the Hokies at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
  • Georgia Tech’s win was the first by the home team in the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech series since Virginia Tech’s season-opening 20-13 overtime win over Georgia Tech on Sept. 3, 2012. It was the first win in regulation by a home team in the series since Virginia Tech’s 28-21 win on Nov. 4, 2010.
  • Since Johnson took the helm at Georgia Tech in 2008, all 10 Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech games have been decided by 10 points or less and eight of the 10 have been decided by seven points or less.
  • Georgia Tech moved to 5-1 in its last six games that immediately followed a loss.
  • Georgia Tech recorded its two longest pass plays of the season — a 60-yard touchdown from TaQuon Marshall to Brad Stewart in the third quarter and an 80-yard touchdown from Marshall to Ricky Jeune in the fourth quarter (prev.: 49 yds. from Marshall to Jalen Camp last Saturday at Virginia).
  • The 24-yard interception return for a touchdown by Virginia Tech’s Greg Stroman in the fourth quarter was the first interception returned for a touchdown against Georgia Tech since BYU’s Alani Fua returned an INT 51 yards for a score against GT on Oct. 12, 2013.

Individual

  • Georgia Tech junior quarterback TaQuon Marshall scored two rushing touchdowns (1 and 3 yards), giving him 16 for the season and 17 for his career. His 16 rushing touchdowns this season are the third-most by a quarterback in Georgia Tech single-season history and his 17 rushing touchdowns in his career are the tied-sixth-most by a quarterback all-time at Georgia Tech.
  • Georgia Tech junior wide receiver Brad Stewart‘s 60-yard touchdown reception was the first touchdown catch of his 34-game career, which includes 25 starts at wideout.
  • Georgia Tech senior wide receiver Ricky Jeune‘s 80-yard touchdown reception was the longest of his career (prev.: 58 yds. vs. Virginia Tech, Nov. 12, 2015).
  • Brenton King‘s missed field goal on a 43-yard attempt in the third quarter was the first missed attempt of his career. He entered the game 5-for-5 in his career.
  • Georgia Tech sophomore left tackle Bailey Ivemeyer made the first start of his career.

Multimedia

Head Coach Paul Johnson Postgame Press Conference

Audio Only


Georgia Tech Student-Athletes Postgame Press Conference


ACC Digital Network Highlights (Video)

Georgia Tech lMG Radio Network Highlights (Audio)

Junior LB Tre’ Jackson Gets a Second Win

After today’s victory over Virginia Tech, linebacker Tre Jackson proposed to his girlfriend Desiree’ in the end zone 💍#SheSaidYes pic.twitter.com/0BmtHEOmB0

— Georgia Tech Sports (@GTAthletics) November 11, 2017

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