The day had finally come. The day that Georgia and Georgia Tech fans had marked on their calendars even dating back to last year. The rivalry match between the two teams goes back nearly a century. This year, the hosts were the Bulldogs and the picturesque backdrop of Sanford Stadium.
Georgia leads the series over Georgia Tech 65-38-5 and doesn’t count two Tech wins during World War II (1943-44). Georgia Tech’s most recent victory was their last visit to Athens in 2014, when they notched a 30-24 victory in overtime. With both teams having (7-4) records and being bowl eligible, today’s game was setup to be a thriller.
The first touchdown was scored by Clinton Lynch on a 41-yd run. Georgia was having problems defending the option with Justin Thomas leading the charge with support from Qua Searcy and Clinton Lynch. So far, it looked like Tech could rely on their option packages for progression.
It wasn’t long after that touchdown that Georgia put up a response of their own when Sony Michel ran for a 10 yard touchdown to deadlock the game.
With 10:00 to go in the 2nd quarter, Justin Thomas executed a beautiful play-action play that left Brad Stewart wide open 30 yards downfield. The reception was for 64 yards.
To end the 3 play, 73 yard drive, Marcus Marshall ran the ball in from 4 yards out to bring Georgia Tech back on top, 14-7.
Before the 1st Half could conclude, Georgia’s Sony Michel had already rushed for 102 yards. In total, Georgia had accumulated 160 yards rushing between Michel and Nick Chubb. Georgia Tech rushed for 115 yards between 6 players.
Georgia kicked into another gear in the 2nd half and scored a quick 10 points. Although the score was knotted at 14 going into halftime, Georgia Tech definitely carried the momentum. But that momentum was decimated once Georgia’s offense kicked into high gear to the hurrah of the fans.
Georgia Tech looked like they were running out of steam in the 4th quarter and saw themselves in a crucial 4th down situation. They tried a reverse to Qua Searcy but Georgia’s defense snuffed it out immediately, turning the ball over on downs.
Just as things were looking down for the Jackets, they tried something totally outside of their norm. Passing.
Justin Thomas found Brad Stewart for 23 yards, followed by a lob to Qua Searcy for 39 yards.
Once in red-zone territory, they went back to what they know, the run. That grit and effort paid off as Dedrick Mills ran in the 2 yard touchdown. That concluded a 7 play, 94 yard scoring drive, all kickstarted by Georgia Tech passing the ball.
With the game within six points (27-21, Georgia), the Yellow Jackets had enough time (6:28, 4th quarter) and enough momentum to flip this into a victory. All the defense had to do was handle business.
Their opportunity came when Lawrence Austin came up with a clutch interception off a deflection to put Georgia Tech in the driver’s seat.
And then it happened, a 6 yard run by Qua Searcy for the touchdown to take the lead with 30 seconds left. Harrison Butker converted the clutch extra point and Georgia Tech, against all odds, came back and took the lead 28-27.
Tech deflated Sanford Stadium after those two long passes by Thomas that led to touchdowns and the nail in the coffin was Austin’s interception. Coach Paul Johnson must’ve given the mother of all pep talks in the 4th quarter. Today’s victory puts them at (8-4) for the year and Georgia falls to (7-5).
The final score of today’s game is 28-27, with Georgia Tech pulling the last minute comeback. We’ll know about both teams bowl destinations next week.
Photo: Hakim Wright