It was a very brisk 50 degrees that set the environment for the annual “Battle of the Techs.” Georgia Tech came in the game at (4-4) while Virginia Tech sits #17 in the nation with a (7-2) record. Yellow Jacket fans were hoping for a big win today as two of their last four losses were nailbiters (losing by one point to Miami and four points to Virginia).
The rivalry proved to be a formidable matchup and went all the way to the final two minutes. Georgia Tech won 28-22 but it was the path they took to victory that Yellow Jacket fans shook.
With seven minutes left, Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall tried to extend their drive rolling out to the flat. But instead of throwing the ball away, he tried to find an open receiver. The pass was intercepted by VT cornerback Greg Stroman who ran it in for a touchdown. With a failed two-point conversion attempt the Hokies lead 22-21. Another heartbreaker was brewing and everyone could feel it (those aforementioned nailbiters that caused utter sadness).
That heartbreaker was nearly confirmed by the ensuing kickoff being fumbled. Luckily Georgia Tech was able to recover at their own 17-yard line. But TaQuon Marshall was not swayed by any of it and launched an 80-yard pass to wide receiver Ricky Jeune for a touchdown to take the lead.
TaQuon Marshall converted their two-point conversion attempt but had to retry because of an illegal shift penalty. That was worsened by an offsides penalty. After two penalties pushed them back to the 15-yard line, the Yellow Jackets were forced to kick the extra point, which gave them the lead 28-22. With any other team in sports in this scenario, local fans could breathe easy. But as Atlanta sports fans know, the game isn’t over until it’s over.
Once the Hokies received the ball, they marched down the field with fluidity but quickly found themselves in a fourth down situation. Quarterback Josh Jackson hurled a prayer to the end-zone that would’ve won the game but that was batted away by GT cornerback Ajani Kerr.
Although a total of 50 points were scored cumulatively, neither side should be happy with their play. Virginia Tech had 4 penalties for 42 yards, 2 fumbles, and went 4 of 15 in third-down efficiency. Georgia Tech had 5 penalties for 45, yards, 3 fumbles, and went 4 of 11 in third-down efficiency.
If you ignore the stats and just go off the visuals, this was a true ACC battle that went down to the final minutes. A match where you could truly say from either side, “this was a good game.”
“I was proud of our guys. I think they showed a lot of grit and determination,” said Coach Paul Johnson after the game. “It’s a great win and it gets us to win number five. Next week, we go on to Duke and we know that’ll be a tough game with a lot riding on the line for us.”
With the win, Georgia Tech moves to (5-4, 4-3 ACC) with their final conference match against Duke and their long-awaited intrastate rivalry matchup with Georgia the week after. If they can focus on closing out matches strong and upping their passing attack, they’re sure to raise a few eyebrows as they shoot for bowl glory (the standard minimum for bowl eligibility is six wins).
Photo: Malcolm “X” Lewis