Georgia Tech lost to Miami on Saturday, badly. They never had anything going on offense, had no answer on defense, and even self-inflicted a safety on themselves. It was as ugly as ugly gets, and a miserable afternoon for Tech fans.
Then the second quarter started. And it was like a whole different game did as well. Tech started at a 19-point deficit, and by halftime was up by a field goal. They held the ball for over 11 minutes of the second quarter, scoring touchdowns off of a triad of 6-play drives of 91, 57, and 23 yards respectively. The fans were once worried and uneasy, but by halftime it had become a party at Bobby Dodd.
The third quarter proved to be more of the same -- Tech reeled off scoring drives of 65 and 60 yards (the second consisting of a 58-yard pass to Jeff Greene, followed by a 2-yard TD run by Tevin). The score was 36-19 with Tech out in front, and the game was over. Miami was something of a mess on each side of the ball, and you knew that a Tech team who had scared us in the first quarter was finally settling in.
Miami's next drive started on their own 20, involved 17 plays and 74 yards, and they got a field goal out of it. But it gave cause for concern. They converted on 4 third downs (of 1, 7, 8, and 15 yards, respectively -- no need to rub your eyes, because you did indeed read that right). Even though they only got a field goal out of it, you had to feel a little bit of concern over a defense that had, up until this point, looked improved, and yet was beginning to play like defenses of years past (with an inability to get off of the field on third down, an inability to produce significant pressure, and a high potency for giving up the big play at the worst moments).
The tides had turned. Georgia Tech was still up 2 touchdowns, yes, but from there the offense slowed to a halt. Something was different. Plays weren't as open as they were before. Miami was stopping us more than they had for about a quarter and a half. Tech drives after that point went as follows: 5 plays for 19 yards (1 first down), 5 plays for 6 yards (1 first down caused by defensive holding), and 8 plays for 32 yards (2 first downs). Meanwhile, Miami was reeling off impressive drives and inching ever closer to erasing a 17-point Tech lead. With 2 minutes to go in regulation, Miami got the ball at their own 9 yard line following a Tech punt on 4th-and-1 from the Miami 48. They needed 91 yards in 2 minutes to tie the game with a touchdown. Surely this new-and-improved Tech defense had one last miraculous stop in them.
Miami needed only 8 plays to travel the length of the field on a drive that never saw a third down. With first and goal from the Tech 10 yard line, you knew that the game was over. The defense didn't have a stop in them. You never want to admit defeat with the lead, but if ever there was a time to do so, it was then. On the first play, Stephen Morris hit Mike James on a little dump pass over the middle, and James dodged a defender and scored. A PAT tied it up.
Hell, the momentum was going so far in Miami's direction that they won the toss going into overtime. On the first play of OT, the Tech offense showed some life with a 14-yard carry by Robbie Godhigh to the Miami 11. From there, it became 3rd and 2, which saw Tevin Washington rush for 1 yard, and then carry again on 4th down carry for no gain. From postgame interviews, Washington said that the initial call for the play was a "QB Follow" (a QB Sneak, if you will). The defense shifted, and he checked to a toss play. The defense shifted back, but as fate would have it, Tevin's been coached to never check twice. Instead of checking, he just went for the original play, and you know the rest.
The Miami sideline could barely contain itself. The offense stepped onto the field, as the defense knew it had a very, very uphill battle in front of it to extend the game. Again, you know the rest. On the second play of their overtime possession, Mike James took a handoff up the middle, cut left, and found a wide open lane to a Miami win.
On Saturday, Georgia Tech lost the Battle of the First Quarter in a big way, won the Battle of Mid-Game big time, and was defeated handily in the Battle of the Home Stretch. The two major losses resulted in a fourth straight loss to a Miami team that Tech, for whatever reason, just cannot find a way to beat.