Nov. 4, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kurt Benkert hit Andre Levrone with a 27-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 remaining Saturday and Virginia rallied past Georgia Tech, 40-36.
The Cavaliers (6-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) achieved bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011 in the wildest of ways, driving for the go-ahead score after the Yellow Jackets had gone ahead on a touchdown of their own with 3:10 remaining. Benkert completed three straight passes on the winning drive.
The Yellow Jackets (4-4, 3-3) had driven 90 yards in nine plays to take the lead. TaQuon Marshall twice kept the drive alive by running the ball on third down, the second time to get to Virginia’s 33. On the next play, he found Ricky Jeune on a slant route and the wide receiver took it untouched into the end zone. A two-point conversion run by Marshall made the score 36-33, preventing Virginia from winning with the field goal, but the Cavaliers didn’t need one as Benkert led them downfield.
His touchdown pass to Levrone was his third of the day and the second for the tandem. Levrone also caught a 34-yarder, and Doni Dowling caught a 28-yarder.
The second half got off to a wild start as Georgia Tech got touchdowns on the first two plays from scrimmage to open a 28-13 lead.
Marshall ran 78 yards after the Yellow Jackets got the ball to start the half. Virginia started at its 25 after the ensuing kickoff, and Benkert’s pass for Olamide Zaccheaus instead found middle linebacker Bruce Jordan-Swilling, who returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. Only 35 seconds had come off the clock.
After Virginia rallied in the closing minutes, the Yellow Jackets drove to the Cavaliers’ 37, but on fourth down, Marshall was flushed from the pocket, scrambled toward his own sideline and threw a pass toward no one in particular that landed out of bounds, setting off a celebration at Scott Stadium.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets continue to thrive on big plays. Through three quarters, they had 290 yards of offense, but 161 of them came on three plays – passes of 49 and 34 yards by Marshall and the quarterback’s 78-run to open the second half. They finished with 399 yards to Virginia’s 357.
Virginia: The Cavaliers made a nice recovery after two consecutive lopsided losses. Coach Bronco Mendenhall said he addressed bowl eligibility for the first time this week, then told his team the only way they were going to make it happen was by getting back to doing things the way they did earlier in the season.
The Yellow Jackets return home to face Virginia Tech in a game that could be key in the Coastal Division race.
Virginia goes back on the road to face Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville.
- Georgia Tech dropped to 4-4 overall and 3-3 in ACC play.
- Georgia Tech lost for only the fourth time in its last 12 games and fifth time in its last 15 contests.
- Three of Georgia Tech’s four losses this season have come when the opponent has scored the winning points in the final 1:22 of regulation or in overtime.
- Georgia Tech has lost consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 1-8 of last season (35-21 loss to Miami, 38-35 loss at Pitt).
- Georgia Tech fell to 20-19-1 all-time versus Virginia (6-4 under head coach Paul Johnson).
- Georgia Tech dropped to 4-12-1 all-time at Virginia’s Scott Stadium (2-3 under Johnson).
- Georgia Tech lost for the third time this season after leading at halftime. Prior to this season, Georgia Tech was 54-8 in nine seasons under Johnson when leading at halftime.
- Georgia Tech’s blocked punt in the second quarter (Antonio Simmons) was its first of the season but its 19th since the beginning of the 2013 season, which is tied for fourth in NCAA Division I FBS.
- Georgia Tech’s defensive touchdown (27-yard interception return by freshman MLB Bruce Jordan-Swilling) on Virginia’s first offensive play of the second half was the Yellow Jackets’ first defensive TD since P.J. Davis returned a fumble 38 yards for a score in the first quarter of Georgia Tech’s 33-18 win over Kentucky in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl (Dec. 31, 2016).
- The interception return for a touchdown was Georgia Tech’s first since Lance Austin returned an INT 24 yards for a score in last season’s 31-17 win over Virginia (Nov. 19, 2016).
- Georgia Tech’s two interceptions were its first INTs of the season. The Yellow Jackets were the only team in the nation that hadn’t thrown an interception this season coming into this week.
- With 143 rushing yards, Georgia Tech junior QB TaQuon Marshall moved into fourth place in Georgia Tech single-season history for rushing yards by a quarterback with 870, passing Joe Hamilton (734 in 1999) and Joshua Nesbitt (737 in 2010).
- Marshall also moved into eighth place in Georgia Tech career history for rushing yards by a quarterback with 884, passing Billy Lothridge (746 from 1961-63), Donnie Davis (749 from 1992-95) and Shawn Jones (855 from 1989-92).
- Georgia Tech freshman MLB Bruce Jordan-Swilling and sophomore FS Christian Campbell both made the first starts of their careers in place of injured juniors Brant Mitchell and A.J. Gray, respectively.
- In his first-career start, Jordan-Swilling recorded his first forced fumble, fumble recovery, interception and defensive touchdown. He forced and recovered a fumble on the same play in the second quarter, which led to a Georgia Tech touchdown. On Virginia’s first offensive play of the second half, he returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown.
Head Coach Paul Johnson Postgame Press Conference (Audio)
Georgia Tech vs. Virginia ACC Digital Network Highlights (Video)
Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network Highlights (Audio)