It was a raucous, sold-out (55,000) Grant Field that played host to the long-awaited ACC matchup between Georgia Tech and #9 Florida State. There were so many away fans here for the game that the stadium looked 50/50 in fan support. It was so crowded that FSU’s band had to sit in the upper deck on the home side. Aside from the annual rivalry match Georgia, this was the game to see during the season.
The 1st Quarter of the night’s match was fairly quiet. Florida State’s Running Back Dalvin Cook rushed for 26-yds (also on the Heisman Watch List), and recent transfer QB Everett Golson threw for 17-yds. A pair of Field Goals by Roberto Aguayo (FSU) and Harrison Butker (GT) were the only points on the board. The 2nd Quarter told another story.
Just as Georgia Tech was gearing their offense up for a steady drive, QB Justin Thomas was rushed out the pocket and threw an errant pass that was intercepted by Lamarcus Brutus. Once the Seminoles’ were set at the 2-yd line, a simple rush by Cook took the Noles up 9-0 (10-0 once Aguayo hit the extra point).
While the Seminoles boast an undefeated record both nationally and in the ACC, the Yellow Jackets are 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the ACC. It’s amazing to think just 11 months ago the Jackets embarrassed a nationally ranked, overhyped Mississippi St. to add to the demise of the SEC’s Bowl performances. A win tonight would come with a lot of value for the squad: an upset on National TV, they’d snap their 5-game losing skid, notch their first ACC win and third of the season overall.
With about 4:18 left in the 2nd Quarter, Tech’s defense held up the force known as Dalvin Cook and FSU was forced to settle for a FG. After Aguayo’s successful attempt, the Noles led 13-3. Just when it seemed like all hope was lost and a defeated Tech squad was going to go into halftime, Justin Thomas led the Yellow Jackets to greatness (4 Plays, 94-yds), capped off with a 60-yd TD run. After Butker’s successful kick, the Jackets were now down 10-13 with 2 minutes left in the Half.
Georgia Tech’s momentum carried over into the 3rd Quarter as they opened up the 2nd Half with an 11 play, 52-yd drive that led to a 40-yd FG by Harrison Butker.
The Yellow Jackets returned to what they know best (the run) and racked up 95-yds rushing in the 3rd Quarter. Butker’s FG notched the only points of the Quarter.
The tide turned at 8:07 in the 4th Quarter as Jamal Golden came up with a big time interception in the end-zone to give Georgia Tech the ball. Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived since they had to punt on their first drive.
Once Tech got the ball back, Justin Thomas launched a 36-yd bomb to Brad Stewart to keep their hopes of an upset alive. Thomas rushed out of bounds to set up the 35-yd FG that was nailed by Harrison Butker. With :54 seconds to go in regulation the game was tied at 16-all.
In the final seconds of the game, FSU was going for the win with Aguayo instead of waiting for overtime. But in the most dramatic finish since Michigan St. over Michigan (last week), his field goal attempt from 56-yds was blocked and recovered by Lance Austin on Tech’s 22-yd line. Austin ran the ball back 78-yds for the game winning TD as time expired. Austin and Patrick Gamble (Gamble blocked the kick) will be legends on-campus from here on out. The final score was Georgia Tech 22, Florida State 16.
The Noles will be left asking a lot of questions after this game, but we only have one: Best Homecoming ever?
Photo: Hakim Wright