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#TGW: Back In Gear

Nov. 10, 2015

By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word

There won’t be as much on the line Thursday night as there so often has been, yet when Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech meet in Bobby Dodd Stadium both teams will have extra incentive.

The Yellow Jackets (3-6, 1-5 ACC) need to win their final three games to become bowl eligible for the 19th consecutive year, and the Hokies (4-5, 2-3) are the only program with a longer current streak. Virginia Tech has gone bowling 22 straight years, and needs to win two of its final three to stretch that out.

Add the fact that Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer announced last week that he will retire after this season, and there ought to be a little more juice.

Georgia Tech also will honor its 1990 national championship team at halftime, and more than 100 former players and coaches are expected to attend, including head coach Bobby Ross and quarterback Shawn Jones.

Ross hired Beamer to his first job, adding him to the staff at The Citadel in 1973.

While these Techs are no longer in the running to win the ACC’s Coastal Division, there’s plenty of history between these teams – including a tight game between the two played 25 years ago in that championship season.

“The Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech games have always been hard-fought, close games for the most part,” said Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson. “Certainly, it’s what we’ll expect to see on Thursday night. It’s Thursday night, national television, a home game . . . you would hope that you would be geared in to play.

“And [we’re] playing a team, while this year it’s not going to happen, every year but one since we’ve been here, the winner of this game had won the Coastal Division. So it’s as much of a rivalry as anybody we play, or it has been since I’ve been here.”

When Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech first played, in 1990, the Jackets squeezed by on the way to winning the ACC title. The Hokies were not yet in the ACC, but came to Atlanta and pressed the home team.

Twenty five years ago today, on Nov. 10, 1990, Georgia Tech was a little flat one week after upsetting No. 1 Virginia 41-38 in Charlottesville. The Jackets trailed the Hokies 3-0 entering the fourth quarter on a gray day.

Scott Sisson kicked two field goals in that final period, and the Jackets won, 6-3.

Beamer’s had better luck against Georgia Tech on Thursday nights.

These two teams have played more Thursday night games on ESPN than all others, as this will be the Jackets’ 31st and the Hokies’ 30th. Virginia Tech is 5-0 against Georgia Tech on Thursdays.

Both teams were off last weekend, and the Jackets sorely needed rest.

In a season stocked with a staggering run of injuries, Atlanta’s Tech took extra time to mend.

“It seems like the bye week came at a good time. We were certainly beat up,” Johnson said. “It gave us a chance to get three or four guys a few days off and hopefully get back healthy.”

The Hokies have had plenty of injuries and tough breaks, too. They lost senior quarterback Michael Brewer for five games to a broken collarbone, and dropped a quadruple-overtime game to Duke, 45-43.

The Jackets won 27-24 in Blacksburg last season when Harrison Butker kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired.

Beamer, who has a career record of 277-143-4, including a mark of 235-120-2 since taking over at Virginia Tech in 1987, doesn’t want that to be his final memory of Georgia Tech.

“Certainly what he has accomplished there is Hall of Fame material,” Johnson said. “ I’m sure that he’ll be in the College Hall of Fame. Well deserved . . . I think he’s probably as respected or more respected than anybody in our profession as a head coach. Certainly the game of football is going to miss him.”

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