Georgia Shocked By Georgia Tech in 28-27 Last Minute Loss
~ Live blog from Bobby Dodd Stadium ~

By Don Stone - Georgia Tech Express

  The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Georgia Bulldogs come into this 111th edition of the rivalry game with identical 7-4 records, both knowing that they would be headed to a middle level bowl game at best. But, each also knowing how important this game is to its respective fan bases. Georgia had impressive wins against North Carolina in the opener at the Georgia Dome and against Auburn. But, it also had disappointing losses to Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida. They enter this game on a bit of a roll having won their last three games after a 4-4 start.
  For the Yellow Jackets, they also had their share of losses to Miami, Pitt and North Carolina with the one blowout coming against Clemson. But, a few impressive victories are mixed in at Virginia Tech and against Duke. And after a 5-4 start, they have won their last two. The teams had split the last four meetings between the hedges.
  It would be the only meeting between freshman QB Jacob Eason and senior QB Justin Thomas.
  Georgia got the ball first as senior Reggie Davis brought the ball out and only made it to the 16.
  Nick Chubb, who missed last year’s meeting in Atlanta with an injury, got things started with carries of five and nine to the 30. More Chubb for 12 to the 42. The Tech defense seemed to have no answer for Chubb who took it 12 more into Tech territory at the 43. Same results with Sony Michel took his turn for 11 on a pair of carries to the 32 and six to the 24. Eason hit Riley Ridley for what would have been a first down, but the freshman saw it bounce off his chest. A promising drive ended with a missed Rodrigo Blankenship field goal from 42.
  Georgia Tech’s Qua Searcy picked up with Chubb and Michel left off. But faster. First with a 32 yard carry to the 38 then a 42 yard run to the end zone to give the Yellow Jackets the first points of the game at 7-0. The drive took just 1:50.
  The Dawgs got 11 to start their drive on three carries by Chubb and Michel to the 38. On a third and 12, Jacob Eason scrambled to buy time and hit for 25 yards to the GT30. Eason scrambled to buy time and found Isaac Nauti for a 35 yard gain to the GT30. Ridley caught one at the 20 for nine. Kirby Smart took his first time out on a third and one. The call worked as Chubb converted to the 17. A handoff to Michel picked up 7 to the 10. Sony got the remaining 7 on the next carry to tie the game at 7.
  Tech began their second drive at the 25. Justin Thomas kept it for a pair of five yard gains to the 35. The game moved into the second quarter. Thomas kept it for seven to make it third and one at the 44. The defense held forcing Ryan Rodwell’s first punt with UGA taking over at their 25.
  Chubb started with a rush to the 26 followed by a pass to Terry Godwin that netted ten to the 36. The drive stalled there with Tech taking over at its 27.
  Thomas caught the UGA defense off guard by launching a 64 yard bomb to Brad Stewart who made it to the UGA9 for a first and goal. Rushes for Dedrick Mills and Marcus Marshall covered the rest to regain the GT lead 14-7. Another drive that took just over a minute. It was Mills first game at Sanford Stadium with Marshall playing where his brother, Keith Marshall, had played before moving on to the NFL this year.
  Michel started the drive with an 18 yard gain to the 43. The elusive back then broke free for the Dawgs’ biggest play for 42 yards to the GT15. A pass to the left corner of the end zone drew a pass interference fowl on Lawrence Austin putting the ball at the two. A touchdown by Chubb was nullified by a holding call moving it back to the 12. Michel caught one for six followed by a bit of a skirmish. Third and goal at the six. Eason got what he needed on a pass to Isaiah McKenzie tying it again at 14. Unsportsmanlike calls on Isaiah McKenzie, Ridley and Lawrence Austin were offsetting.
  Nate Cottrell took the kick at the 8 and brought it out to the 30. Thomas tossed it to the right to former Bulldog J.J. Green, who picked up 11 at the 39. A nice Searcy run was brought back on a chop block on senior Freddie Burden. First and 25 at the 24. A short pass to Marshall got 11 for a third and 10. Thomas, not liking what he saw in front of him, took a time out. Green went left and brought down an 11 yard first down catch at midfield. A couple of runs lost a yard and brought up another third and long. Thomas threw a deep pass to Searcy that was intercepted by Dominick Sanders at the 9. Better than a punt with less than a minute to go in the half. DE Antonio Simmons was banged up on the play and walked off slowly to the locker room. Michel picked up a first down with 23 second left.
  For the most part, first half stats were even except in time of possession with UGA doubling when they had their hands on the ball 19:50 to 10:10. The story so far was the quite different ways each team had moved the ball and scored. Tech’s two scores came on drives that took just 1:44 and 1:21 featuring explosive plays of 32 and 42 yards by Search and 64 yards by Stewart. UGA, on the other hand, had just one big play. A 42 yard run by Michel. The rest of their yardage had come on runs of 5, 9 and 12 yards by Chubb and Michel. But each method worked with a pair of touchdowns scored by each team.
  Tech started the second half in bad field position at the 16.And it didn’t get any better. A toss right for 18 to Green got it out to the 34. Then Roquon Smith forced a fumble by Isiah Willis at the 41 that was run back13 yards by Sanders to the GT28. An 11 yard pass to Jeb Blazevich got a first down at the 14. But again the Dawgs’ offense dried up in the red zone. This time, Blankenship put it through to give UGA its first lead 17-14. The GT defense kept the turnover from resulting in just three points.
   Tech began their second drive of the half at their 25 with a six yard Marshall run. Thomas was sacked as he scrambled in the backfield for a four yard loss to bring up a third and 8. Again, he couldn’t get rid of the ball for another sack for minus 14 at the 22. A rolling punt stopped at the UGA35.
   Michel took a handoff and followed the pile that took him 10 yards to the 43. Michel then found a hole up the middle rambling 29 yards all the way to the 27 with 15 tacked on for a facemask call. Ball at the GT13. Chubb got 11 on a pair of carries for a first and goal at the three. Georgia extended their lead to 10 with another Chubb run to make it 24-14. Five plays and 67 yards in just 2:19.
The game began showing signs that Georgia was pulling away as they held Tech to a three and out. The Bulldogs took over at their 27 and added to that feeling with a 37 yard third down completion to Godwin at the GT32. A third and four was converted with a 7 yard pass to Nauta at the 19. The Jackets defense limited the damage and kept the game to within two scores as Blankenship field kicked a 32 yard field goal. The lead was now at 13, 27-14. For the Bulldogs, a third red zone failure.
Tech desperately needed a score as the third quarter came to an end starting at their 25. A 10 yard toss left to Clinton Lynch got the Jackets a first down at the 38. Then another first at the UGA49. The next three plays only picked up six and Paul Johnson had no choice but to go for it on fourth and four. As Searcy was tackled seven yards deep in the back field, it was becoming apparent that the game was getting out of reach with Georgia taking over in great field position at the GT49. The Jackets are not a team that is built for big comebacks late in the game and, barring a big stop or turnover, a score here would pretty much put it out of reach.
The defense held Georgia to a three and out and, as expected, they got the ball back after the kick at their six needing 94 yards just to get to within a score with 9:51 left in the game.
After a short gain on the first play, CB Aaron Davis came out with an injury. Paul Johnson took notice of the missing cornerback and quickly got some breathing room with a 23 yard pass to Stewart at the 27. He didn’t see, though, a wide open Searcy 30 yards downfield that would have been a sure six points. Searcy must have told him when he got back to the huddle because, on the next play, Thomas found him open again for Searcy 39 yards at the UGA34. Kirby Smart took his first time out of the second half to regroup. A pitch right to Lynch added 7 to the 27. Marshall broke free for 19 yards to the left sideline stopping right at UGA’s dog house. First and goal at the 8. Two plays later Mills powered his way through three defenders across the goal line to pull to within a score, 27-21. The quick drive took just 3:23 with plenty of time left at 6:28. During the drive, the UGA defense not only lost Davis, but DB Maurice Smith (finger) and CB Deandre Baker B (right leg), all in the secondary.
  The Bulldog offense took over at their 25 trying to extend the lead beyond six. Michel carried it twice for 7 as Chubb was getting his right hamstring worked on on the sidelines with leg stretches. The runs gave Michel a new career high with 168 yards. Eason went to the air for a first down pass to Godwin at the 37. Smart reluctantly took his second time out as the clock was about to run out on the play.
  Then potential disaster as Eason’s pass was thrown too far behind Godwin and was deflected into the arms of Lance Austin, the ACC Defensive Player of the Week who had a pick six that sealed the win over Virginia last week.
  The Jackets took over at the UGA46 with 3:37 left in the game. An illegal formation made it first and 15 at their 49. Thomas got it all back with a 16 yard pass to Lynch. A tough run by Marshall broke tackles and got another 13 to the 19. Searcy followed a block from Ricky Jeune and got nine with the clock ticking down to 1:37. Mills made it first and goal at the six. Clock moving to 1:24 and counting. They lost a yard on a toss to Searcy. Down to less than a minute. Johnson had to take his first time out at 36 seconds as a toss to Lynch got nothing for a third and goal.
  A trick play toss to Searcy to the right was intended for him to throw it. But it was going nowhere until the back switched directions and saw a hole up the middle, diving through it into the end zone to tie the game at 27. The 95 percent part of the crowd dressed in red were stunned. The others bunched in the southwest corner were delirious. Senior Harrison Butker came in to put his team ahead with the extra point, 28-27. Fourteen unanswered points after Georgia had scored 20 straight of their own. The difference being the Jackets were putting up touchdowns while the Bulldogs included a pair of field goals.
  Just 30 seconds remained and the Dawgs started at their 25 needing about 40 yards to get to within field goal range with just one timeout left.
  Isaiah Wynn used five seconds to get eight yards on a catch before running out of bounds at the 33. Five more seconds on an incomplete pass leaving just 20 ticks. A pass to Nauta flew through his hands on what would have gotten them into Tech territory. Nothing gained with three less seconds. Eason went to Nauta again to get the first down at the 38 as the QB spiked the ball to conserve time. Georgia still needed another 20 yards or so to give Blankenship a shot. An incomplete pass up the middle intended for Godwin squeezed the clock to six seconds and a third and ten. Johnson took his second time out to make sure he had everything covered. With no more options, Eason just heaved the ball up with it falling harmlessly into the hands of LB Brant Mitchell at the 20. Game over. The Jackets had beaten the Bulldogs for the second time in a row and the third time in the last five years under Johnson between the hedges.
  And, of course, some of those hedges wound up in the teeth of the victorious Tech players, some of whom reciprocated what the Bulldogs did last year at Bobby Dodd Stadium. A handful carried the Georgia Tech flag to the middle of the field and planted it solidly on the “G.”
  Going five of six down the stretch, the Jackets had improved five wins over their 3-8 record in 2015.
   “It was a great college football game,” Johnson said after. Talking about the game winning TD by Searcy, the coach confirmed the original intention of the altered play. “It was either or. It was a throwback to the quarterback. I think it froze them. He looked like he was going to throw it. A great individual play.”
   A few hours later, Tech’s Facebook page posted live footage of the team busses pulling up to Bobby Dodd with throngs of scream fans waiting to welcome them home.
   Originally slotted to maybe play in a bowl like the Military in DC, the Jackets now had better possibilities of a Tier 1 bowl in Orlando, Jacksonville, or maybe another trip to El Paso. For Georgia, the outcome didn’t likely change their destination. The Music City Bowl, which had not hosted the Dawgs since 2001, had expressed interest in them earlier in the week as had the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

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