Mark Richt Returns To Georgia and Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Hands the Yellow Jackets A 35-21 ACC Loss

~ Live blog from Bobby Dodd Stadium ~

By Don Stone - Georgia Tech Express

   I seems like a year ago. Actually, it nearly was. Back on Thanksgiving Saturday of 2015 when Mark Richt was fighting for his job. He had lost it with an embarrassing loss to Florida a month earlier. He just didn't know it yet. Four straight wins followed including his 13th victory over Georgia Tech. It didn't matter. The writing was on the wall. The decision had been made to make a change at UGA. The next day, he was gone.
  Now, he brought his new team, the No. 14 Miami Hurricanes (3-0) to Atlanta to face a Yellow Jacket team (3-1) that was trying to get the bad taste of a devastating loss to No. 5 Clemson out of their mouths.
  Richt has even more familiarity with the Jackets. J.J. Green used to play for him at UGA before transferring to Tech. And Marcus Marshall is the brother of Keith former Bulldog Keith Marshall. "I know the family," Richt said about Marshall.
  Richt is 8-0 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. But are these Hurricanes as good as those Bulldog teams? Its hard to say. They No. 14 national ranking notwithstanding, Miami hasn't faced anyone yet. They have three wins against Florida A&M (70-3), Florida Atlantic (38-10) and Appalachian State (45-10). They'll know a lot more about themselves in a month after a stretch of games that starts with Tech and continues with No. 12 Florida State, North Carolina, at Virginia Tech and at Notre Dame.
  Georgia Tech has a pair of nice wins against Boston College in Ireland and Vanderbilt. They have manageable games at Pittsburgh and with Georgia Southern before a bye week. Now is a good time to right the ship.
  But, even without Richt, Miami has beaten the Yellow Jackets six of the last seven years. And, an advantage for the visitors is that they were coming off a bye week with an extra seven days to prepare for the option offense of Paul Johnson.
  Georgia Tech got the ball first and got a first down on a six yard catch by Brad Stewart at the 38. Justin Thomas lost two yards to bring up a third and ten at the GT49. A Quinton Lynch carry of nine was nullified by an illegal block below the waist making it third and 25 from the GT34. The Jackets were forced to punt. The Hurricanes began their first drive at their 15.
  On the first play, only two yards, but 320 pound OL Trevor Darling had to be helped off the field. A short pass to Mark Walton turned into a first down at the 26. Then Brad Kaaya hit Stacy Coley for a 25 yard gain into Jacket territory. Walton got another first at the 38. Joe Yearby was open up the middle for 14 and quickly Yearby found the corner for the rest of the 27 to give Miami the first points of the game 7-0.
  Tech started their second drive, again at the 25. Thomas started with a pass to Lynch for seven. A toss right to Lynch saw the back find open space for a 23 yard run into Miami turf at their 43. Fr. BB Dedrick Mills got another first at the 30. Former Bulldog J.J. Green got satisfaction with a first down carry to the 17. A tough run up the middle by Mills picked up six to the eight. Johnson called his first tie out. He called a dive by Mills that got the first as the game moved into the second quarter.
  Mills got the rest to tie the game at 7. The nice drive went 11 plays and 75 yards in 6:23. Miami took over at their 25. This time the Tech defense held them to a three and out with the Jackets taking over after a 44 yard punt at their 31.
  The current Miss Georgia, Patricia Ford, a 2015 Tech grad was introduced during the break.
  Taking his third option, Thomas tossed to Green for a 15 yard gain to midfield. Green ran past his old coach for another first at the 40. Green, picked up 20 on a nice catch but had it brought back on a holding call. First and 20 back at the 50. Thomas took a second tie out. R-Sr. AB Lynn Griffin got half of it back on a catch at the 37. DB Rayshawn Jenkins was banged up on the play. Michael Pinkney burst through untouched to bring Thomas down in the backfield, forcing a punt. Miami fair caught the punt at their 10.
  Yearby, who seems most effective going to the outside, did so for a Cane first down at the 27. DL Francis Kallon was helped off the field. Yearly, showing he can actually run it anywhere, took it up the middle for another first at the 33, then got another first with two similar carries. DT Patrick Gamble limped off the field. A completion to Chris Herndon IV had Miami at the GT40 with another first. Another first to a wide open Coley at the 28. A roughing the passer call on DL Desmond Branch put it at the 14. Walton scampered into the end zone for a 14-7 lead. The Jacket defense, after looking good on the previous drive was unable to stop the Hurricanes on virtually every play of this one.
  George Eads and Lucas Till, stars of the Atlanta-based TV show, "MacGyver" were introduced.
  Again, Tech started at their 25 with disastrous results. A blindside sack of Thomas jolted the ball loose, scooped up by Shaq Quarterman, who ran free for the 25 yards TD. Suddenly, the Jackets were in a two score deficit with the game starting to look like the last one with Clemson.
  Almost a carbon copy on Tech's next drive as Thomas fumbled again and again it was scooped up DL Joe Jackson for an 18 yard Miami TD. Tech was in the midst of another rout, down 28-7. The roar of the hugely Orange and Green clad 53,547 crowd made it see like a road game. While it is the first time in Georgia Tech history that an opponent returned two fumbles for touchdowns against GT, it is only the FIFTH time in program history that an opponent scored two defensive touchdowns in a game against GT and the first time since Virginia Tech returned two interceptions for touchdowns in a 51-7 GT loss on Sept. 24, 2005.
  Lynch gave the Jackets a bit of hope with a 33 yard run to the MH40. Johnson had to go for it on a fourth and 2 and converted with a toss to R.So. AB Qua Searcy to the 27. Lynch brought down a 14 yard catch at the 13 for another first. Tech took its final time out of the half with 0:53 to go and a second and six at the nine. It paid off as Thomas hit Mills for a much needed score to cut the lead in half 28-14.
  Except for the pair of defensive scores, the game was even as the first half came to an end. As I thought, stats were close with Miami leading in total offense 196-162. Tech lead in rushing 133-92 and only trailed in passing 70-63. The Jackets actually dominated time of possession 22:43 to 7:17. The difference, two turnovers.
  Last time, Tech was dominated in the first half 23-0 by the Tigers but showed some fight to keep it from getting further out of hand by actually outscoring Clemson 7-3 in the second half. They needed similar reaction this time to get back in it, just down by 14.
  Miami got the ball first at the 25. Like they had once in the first half, the GT defense held Miami to a three and out getting the ball back at their 30 after a nice 17 yard return by Stewart.
  Green got 8 but the next play lost three for a third and five at the 34. Nothing more and the punt was fair caught at the 22.
  A short pass to Coley got 7 but the "D" again held them to a third three and out. This time, the Jackets had better field position after the fair catch at the 35.
  Mills took it up the middle for 12 to the 47. Mills broke a few tackles and picked up another first at the MH42. Another tough run by Mills for 15 more to the 27. A toss left to Griffin gained 12 more for a first at the 11. Tech had scored both times they were in the red zone in the first half. An off sides call made it second and one at the 7. Mills converted to the two. Mills got the score to bring the fighting Jackets to within 7, 28-21. SLB Zach McCloud was injured on the play.
  Miami got their first first down of the half then exploded with a pair of passes to Ahmmon Richards and Coley for a quick score to extend the lead back to 14, 35-21. The three play quick strike drive went 75 yards in just 1:33.
  The short time of the drive could benefit Tech with a tired defense having to get back on the field with little rest. Tech began at their 25.
  This time, Tech went three and out with the Canes taking over at their 29.
  Another quick strike with a 22 yard catch by Braxton Berrios to the GT49. One quarter to go. Tech had dominated with time of possession again keeping the ball 11:08 to Miami's 3:52. But they had just treaded water on the score, still down by 14 with each team scoring once.
  Tech got a much needed three and out and got the ball desperately needing points. Marshall got his first carry and made the most of it for 27 yards to the GT47. Thomas kept it and ran out of bounds for another first at the H42. A fumble was recovered by Freddie Burden for a four yard loss. Third and 14. Thomas scrambled free from a rush and found Stewart at the 33 bringing up a 4th and one. Johnson again had to go for it and again succeeded with a handoff to Mills to the 28.  Thomas dove forward for five to the 23. Marshall took it to the 21. Another fourth down. Another try. This time a fail as Miami took over on downs.
  To say the least, with just 8:57 left in the game, Tech needed a quick stop to get the ball back. Instead, a short pass to Herndon saw the TE slip past some tackles and run 44 yards all the way to the GT31. Richt took his first time out. A pair of fouls on the offense moved the ball back an amazing 30 yards for a second and 36 on the MH43. Helpful but the clock was ticking down to six minutes. The Hurricanes got to the GT41 but had to punt it away to Tech who fair caught deep in their own territory at the 10, needing a quick 90 yards just to stay within a score.
  A false start made it first and 12 fro the 3. Another fourth down and for the first time, Johnson punted with Miami starting at their GT49 with only one thing in mind, eat us the rest of the 4:15 on the clock. The crowd began to clear as the Miami faithful felt compelled to chant "Nah, Nah, Hey, Hey, Goodbye." Seemed appropriate.
  After a short run, Johnson stopped the clock at 4:04. Tech held and got the ball back at their 37 with another nice return by Stewart for 26 yards.
  Thomas scrambled for a first down at the 48 but the clock was ticking to just over three minutes. Ricky Jeune got his first catch for six. Another to the 39. Another fourth down with another do or die no choice attempt needing ten this time. The result, an interception that actually put the ball at the 20. But, not matter. With 2:21 on the clock, Miami had it won. They actually won it with that quick 1:33 scoring drive. Without that, the deficit would have just been seven and within reach. In reality, the game was won with the catastrophic pair of fumble TD returns that gave the Canes a two score lead, the margin of difference in the game.
  Still again, Johnson, for the seventh time in nine meetings, had to walk across the field and give Richt a congratulatory hand shake, this time wearing different colors, same result. In Richt's 200th career game, he extended his record over Georgia Tech to 14-2, winning all nine games he coached at Bobby Dodd Stadium. And for the 4-0, 1-0 Hurricanes, it became the seventh win in the last eight years over the 3-2, 1-2 Yellow Jackets.
  Normally a sign of victory, Tech had doubled time of possession 39:54 to 20:06 and actually outgained Miami in total yards of offense 361-355. They doubled the Hurricanes in rushing yards 267-114. But the two turnovers killed them marring an otherwise good performance.
  Back to the drawing board with another ACC matchup, this time on the road at Pittsburgh next Saturday at 12:30pm.

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