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Thomas and Days Have Record Nights as Tech Defeats Mississippi State in Orange Bowl

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Justin Thomas took home the MVP honors as he ran for three scores and threw for a fourth as Tech defeated Mississippi State 49-34 in an awesome offensive display by both teams. Synjyn Days of Georgia Tech led all rushers with 171 yards and three scores. Dak Prescott, who announced during the game that he would return for his senior season, threw for 453 yards and three scores.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

There was no lack of offense in this season's Capital One Orange Bowl. In fact, the team's established a new record for most yardage in a game by both teams, with 1,182 total yards. Fortunately for the Yellow Jackets, they made the most of their yards and scored seven touchdowns to defeat Mississippi State 49-34 before 58,211 fans at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Thomas rushed for three touchdowns, a career night for the signal caller, and also set the new mark for most yards rushing by a quarterback in a single season.  He also threw for a scoring pass in the first quarter.

"I am just so proud of these guys. They have been so resilient all year," Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "They played hard all the time. Once we got some distance in front of us, I knew we would win the game. These guys play for each other and I could not be more proud of them."

Meanwhile, Darren Waller had a career night with 114 yards receiving and Synjyn Days had over 153 yards rushing to lead the Rambling Wreck. He also scored three touchdowns on the ground.

However, the night belonged to Thomas.

"The guys around me did everything that they were responsible for," Thomas said after getting the MVP trophy. "They did the right things and were accurate in their assignments. . It was great that we all came out and accomplished the goals that we set out for ourselves."

Dak Prescott finished a story book season by going 33 of 51 for 453 yards and three scores for the Bulldogs. He played a tremendous second half, but his defense could not stop the Tech running game which proved to be too much for Hail State.

"You have to give Georgia Tech all the credit in the world. They executed their game plan and we didn't," Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said. "We missed some big opportunities and did not put guys in the right position to make plays. However, I like what our seniors accompliished this season and they set a new standard at Mississippi State for the future."

The Jackets broke open a 21-20 game in their first possession of the second half as Days ran around left edge and dashed 69 yards for the touchdown.  That gave Georgia Tech a 28-20 lead early in the second half.  They put their feet on the accelerator and never looked back.  They scored on their three third quarter possessions to take control of the game.

Thomas extended the lead with a 32-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter, on the next Tech drive, to give the Jackets a commanding 35-20 lead with 7:58 to play in the third quarter.

The Rambling Wreck caused a turnover on the game's first series as Chris Milton intercepted Prescott's second offering and three plays later Days scored from three yards out.  The key play in the drive was a 14-yard run by Deon Hill to set the Jackets up with first and goal.  The four-play 36-yard drive took 1:27.

On the Bulldogs next drive, Prescott had them moving down the field, but two straight incomplete passes turned the ball back over to Georgia Tech on downs and the Jackets took over on their own 32 with 9:24 to play in the first quarter.

After the team's traded punts, Thomas found Darren Waller in the end zone with a 41-yard bomb. Waller scored despite being held by Jamerson Love for the last five yards of his route.  The play was Thomas' longest of the season and the first that he completed over 30 yards this season.  The scoring drive was good for 9 plays covering 88 yards in 4:59.  With 1:37 to play in the first quarter, the Jackets were up 14-0.

The Jackets really closed in on Prescott in the first quarter and made him uncomfortable.  He finished the quarter with six yards rushing and 62 yards passing as he completed 8 of 13 passes and had the one interception..  He was also sacked once on third down.

Thomas, meanwhile, ran for 37 yards in the first quarter and completed one of two passes for 41 yards and a score. It was a sign of big things to come.

"I can't really name one play that stood out," Thomas said.. "If I had to say one, probably the long touchdown that D-Wall (Darren Waller) made a great catch on and that turned the game around."

MSU scored on a 32 yard field goal by Evan Sobiesk with 12:57 to play in the first half.  The 13 play drive chewed up 60 yards and 3:40 off the clock.

"We had to settle for two field goals early on and we could not score in the red zone," Mullen said. "That's on me. I have to make sure that we call the right plays to score."

The Bulldogs then scored on a five-yard run by Prescott to narrow the score to 14-10.  The four-play drive covered 55 yards and took only 1:07.  Prescott completed three passes in a row to Joe Morrow leading up to the touchdown run.

On the ensuing drive, Thomas had the Jackets on the move, but after eluding three pass rushers, he went to throw the ball away, but did not quite get it out of bounds.  His pass was intercepted by Beniquez Brown and the Tech drive ended deep in Bulldog territory.

Prescott made the Jackets pay. He marched them 62 yards in eight plays as they cut the lead to 14-13 with a 30-yard field goal.

Thomas answered with a 13-yard touchdown run with only 29 second to play in the second quarter.  With the 13-yard run, Thomas eclipsed the 1,000 yard plateau and became only the second Tech quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. The only other quarterback to accomplish the feat was Josh Nesbitt in 2009.

Just when the Jackets thought they were going to have a nice 8-point lead at the half, Prescott launched a Hail Mary pass and it was caught by Fred Ross in the end zone, off of a deflection, to cut the lead to one, 21-20.

"That is a play that we practice all the time," Prescott said. "The lineman did a good job blocking and I just threw the ball as long as I could and he made a great catch on the ball."

NOTES: This is the second win against the SEC for the Yellow Jackets. They also defeated Georgia at the end of the season. "It's great. We're 2-0 against the SEC this year. It proves that we can play with anybody we want to." Thomas said after the game.

With his Hail Mary touchdown pass to Fred Ross at the end of the first half, Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott eclipsed 4,000 yards of total offense for the season. That is the first time in school history that any quarterback has done that.  Prescott has over 7,000 total yards in his career.

Thomas, with his first quarter touchdown pass to Waller, tied George Godsey for fourth place on the all-time most touchdowns passing in a single season list with 18.  Waller meanwhile, had 114 yards receiving in the first half, the most ever for his career. He has never eclipsed the 100 yard plateau before this game.

Georgia Tech has now played 225 consecutive games without being shut out. This is the second longest active streak in the ACC.  The Jackets have not been shut out since October 18, 1997 at Florida State.

This is the first time since 1959 that the Jackets have played four consecutive games against Top 25 teams.  In 1959, the Jackets played SMU, Clemson, Tennessee and Auburn.  This season, the Jackets closed out the season with games against Clemson, Georgia, Florida State and Mississippi State.

Former Jacket Phillip Wheeler was a guest at the game by the Capital One Orange Bowl and he signed autographs in the fan zone.  This is the first season that Capital One is the title sponsor of the game.