Oct. 31, 2009
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)–Turns out Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has a few more tricks in his offense than just the triple option.
Josh Nesbitt ran for two touchdowns and threw for two scores, Jonathan Dwyer ran for a career-high 186 yards rushing with three TDs, and No. 11 Georgia Tech rallied to beat Vanderbilt 56-31 Saturday night.
The Yellow Jackets ran less triple-option than usual.
“They decided they were going to take that away, and they did. We tried to play with our auxiliary stuff, and it worked out well,” Johnson said.
Did it ever.
The Yellow Jackets (8-1) rolled up a season-high 597 yards total offense against a Vanderbilt defense that was ranked 34th nationally, giving up 320 yards per game. They wore Vanderbilt out, holding the ball for nearly 40 minutes and rolling up 404 yards rushing.
Dwyer had 22 carries and matched his career-best in touchdowns.
“We have a lot of weapons on the offense so each and every week somebody has a breakout game,” Dwyer said.
The Yellow Jackets improved on their best start since winning a national title in 1990 by winning their sixth straight for their longest winning streak since 2000. They also won a fourth road game this season, which they hadn’t done since 2000.
Vanderbilt (2-7) lost both its fifth straight and any faint hopes of the first back-to-back bowl berth in school history. Coach Bobby Johnson has seen Paul Johnson’s offense for years, dating back to their days coaching against each other in the Southern Conference.
“There is always an edge. You don’t feel good about what you’re doing to stop them. We tell our players if you give them a chance, they’ll burn you. They made a good play on a previous option, and they took advantage of us. That’s the pressure that good offense puts on you,” the Vandy coach said.
The Commodores made it exciting, leading 31-28 late in the third quarter.
Dwyer helped the Yellow Jackets pull away. He scored his second and third TDs on a pair of 3-yard runs 40 seconds apart at the end of the third quarter to put Georgia Tech up 42-31. His third TD was set up by Georgia Tech’s second recovered fumble on defense.
“The defense got us fired up,” Nesbitt said. “That was the spark we were looking for the whole game, and we really didn’t make any adjustments.”
Georgia Tech was coming off a dominant performance at Virginia to grab sole possession of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division.
Nesbitt scored the first two TDs for Georgia Tech, capping the opening drive with a 4-yard run and opening the second quarter with a 1-yard plunge. His second TD was the first of 21 straight points as Georgia Tech grabbed a 28-14 lead before halftime. Nesbitt connected with Demaryius Thomas on a 35-yard TD pass, and Dwyer ran for a 13-yard TD.
Later, Nesbitt helped polish the victory off with a perfect pass to Embry Peeples that went for 87 yards and a 49-31 lead. Nesbitt finished 6 of 13 for 193 yards, with six carries for 56 yards before being replaced midway through the fourth.
Roddy Jones also added a 15-yard TD run.
It was the most points Vandy has allowed since a 56-30 loss to Kentucky in 2001. The loss also spoiled what had been Vanderbilt’s best offensive performance since a 36-17 win over Rice on Sept. 26.
The Commodores hadn’t scored more than 10 in any Southeastern Conference game, but a pair of freshmen sparked Vandy even as it lost starting quarterback Larry Smith to a pulled left hamstring in the first quarter.
Warren Norman caught an 11-yard TD pass to cap the opening drive, and he returned a kickoff 80 yards for his second straight game with a kickoff return for a TD and his third this season–a school first. He also joined Willie Gault as the only SEC players with three kickoff returns for TDs in a single season. Gault did it for Tennessee in 1980.
Zac Stacy, who had scored on a 3-yard TD run in the first, ran 62 yards to tie the game at 28 just before halftime.
But the Commodores had to settle for a field goal to open the third, and that was the last points they could manage.