Sept. 3, 2016
DUBLIN (AP) – Dedrick Mills knew he just had to ”finish the play” when given a chance to atone for a fumble in his first college game.
He made up for the mistake by also finishing Georgia Tech’s comeback win.
Mills’ 4-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds remaining capped a drive that included two big completions from Justin Thomas and lifted Georgia Tech to a 17-14 win over Boston College on Saturday.
Mills, a freshman from Ware County High School in Waycross, Georgia, said he had to regroup after fumbling in the third quarter.
”I kind of got down but Justin kept coming back up to me and saying `Hey man, you’ve got to forget that last play,”’ Mills said. ”… I got my chance again. I just had to finish the play.”
”It felt like a movie,” Thomas said. ”We stuck together. We kept our heads up high and we found a way to do it.”
Georgia Tech (1-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its first game played outside of the United States in the 124-year history of the program. Mills, who led the Yellow Jackets with 68 yards rushing, was especially impressed by the dramatic setting.
”In high school we had a good fan base,” Mills said. ”The stadium was kind of big but wasn’t that big. Coming over here, being overseas for the first time with a big crowd, I haven’t played in anything like that.”
The Yellow Jackets’ only touchdowns came on their first and last drives of the game. Backup quarterback Matthew Jordan’s 3-yard scoring run capped the opening drive. Boston College held Georgia Tech’s spread-option attack to 240 yards, including 121 yards rushing.
”It’s tough,” said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. ”I tell you, they’re as good defensively as anybody we’ve played, including Clemson or anybody. They’re good and we had a hard time getting anything going consistently.”
It was a crushing loss for Boston College (0-1, 0-1 ACC), which was winless in conference games in 2015 and has lost nine straight overall. The Eagles took a 14-7 lead on quarterback Patrick Towles’ 6-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
Towles, a graduate transfer from Kentucky making his first start for the Eagles, threw an interception and lost a fumble in the first half.
Harrison Butker’s 39-yard field goal cut the lead to four points.
Jon Hillman’s 73-yard touchdown run on the Eagles’ first play of the second half tied the game at 7-7. Hillman ran for 102 yards on 17 carries.
The game, which had a 7:30 a.m. EDT kickoff, was played through rain, leaving the grass turf at Aviva Stadium slippery.
Georgia Tech: It was a confidence boost for the defense, as Georgia Tech won despite ending scoring at least 20 points in 21 straight conference games. The streak, which began in 2013, was the second-longest by a Power 5 team, behind TCU’s 22-game run.
Boston College: The Eagles’ defense, which led the nation in 2015 by allowing only 254.3 yards per game, looked strong again before Georgia Tech’s go-ahead drive. Colton Lichtenberg had a 43-yard field goal attempt blocked in the second quarter, and he missed a 35-yarder late in the third. Coach Steve Addazio called for the second attempt instead of going for the first down on fourth-and-1 from the Georgia Tech 18.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets will face FCS in-state rival Mercer for the first time in 75 years. The first game in Georgia Tech history came against Mercer on Nov. 5, 1892, and the teams’ last game came in 1938. Mercer revived its program, which had been dormant for 72 years, in 2013.
Boston College: The Eagles will take a break from the ACC schedule when they look for their ninth straight win over in-state rival UMass. The last win for UMass in the series came in 1978.
- Georgia Tech moved to 1-0 overall and 1-0 in ACC play. Boston College fell to 0-1 overall and 0-1 in ACC play.
- Trailing 14-7 with under six minutes to play, Georgia Tech pulled within four points on a 40-yard field goal by senior Harrison Butker with 5:57 to go. True freshman B-back Dedrick Mills scored the winning touchdown on a four-yard run with 35 seconds remaining on the clock.
- Mills’ game-winning touchdown capped an 11-play, 59-yard drive that began on Georgia Tech’s 3:33 to go in the ballgame.
- Georgia Tech scored the winning touchdown while trailing with less than a minute remaining in regulation for the first time since a 13-yard touchdown pass from Justin Thomas to Deon Hill with 23 seconds to go lifted the Yellow Jackets to a 42-38 win over Georgia Southern on Sept. 13, 2014.
- Georgia Tech won its season opener for the fourth straight year and eighth time in nine tries under head coach Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets moved to 87-33-4 all-time in openers.
- Georgia Tech moved to 7-2 all-time against Boston College. The Yellow Jackets have won three straight over the Eagles, dating back to a 19-16 win in Chestnut Hill, Mass. On Sept. 6, 2008.
- Georgia Tech moved to 10-3 in its last 13 ACC openers.
- Georgia Tech won for the fourth time in six tries when opening the season with an ACC game.
- Georgia Tech led 7-0 at halftime, marking the second straight season opener that the Yellow Jackets shut out its opponent in the first half (led Alcorn State, 48-0, at halftime in 2015 opener).
- The first-half shutout also marked the first time that Georgia Tech blanked an ACC opponent in the first half since its 56-0 win over Syracuse on Oct. 19, 2013.
- Georgia Tech finished the game 8-for-16 on third and fourth downs (6-for-14 on third down and 2-for-2 on fourth down). On their game-winning touchdown drive, the Yellow Jackets converted a fourth-and-19 (on a 22-yard pass from Thomas to sophomore A-back Qua Searcy) and a third-and-10 (on a 26-yard pass from Thomas to junior wide receiver Ricky Jeune).
- Georgia Tech failed to score at least 20 points in an ACC contest for the first time in 22 games.
- Tech’s string of 21 straight conference games with at least 20 points stretched back to 2013 and was the second-longest streak in the nation by a Power 5 conference team (TCU – 22 games).
- Four players made their first career starts for Georgia Tech – Sr. DT Francis Kallon, Jr. CB Lance Austin, So. FS J. Gray and true Fr. BB Dedrick Mills. Jr. AB J.J. Green made his first start as a Yellow Jacket; he had two starts as a freshman at Georgia in 2013.
- Mills became the first true freshman to start a season opener for Georgia Tech since wide receiver Tyler Melton in 2008.
- Senior quarterback Justin Thomas completed 8-of-15 passes for 119 yards to move into eighth place in Georgia Tech history with 3,314 career passing yards.
- In 27 career starts, Thomas has engineered three drives that have resulted in Georgia Tech scoring the game’s winning or tying points in the final minute of regulation.
- Sophomore A-back Qua Searcy, who had three receptions for 45 yards in his career coming in to the game, finished with three catches for 60 yards on Saturday, including a career-long 36-yarder that set up Georgia Tech’s first touchdown and a 22-yarder on fourth-and-19 that kept the Yellow Jackets’ game-winning drive alive.