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Unexplainable final drive leads Miami to 25-24 win over Georgia Tech

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I have no explanation for what just occurred.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If you needed a fun statistic to make your day worse, here’s one.

Georgia Tech has led or been tied for 149:56 of a possible 150:00 in the second half of games this season ... it is now 3-2 after a 25-24 loss at Miami on Saturday afternoon.

Trailing by two points, Miami took over on its own 8-yard line with 2:20 left in the game.

The Hurricanes got things going with a bubble screen pass ... and then more bubble screens ... and more bubble screens. Over and over again, Miami moved the ball straight down the field with the same bubble screen throw against a Georgia Tech defense that inexplicably didn’t adjust to defend it. On every one of them, no Tech defensive player was within 10 yards of the receiver before he caught the ball and had an automatic eight-plus yards.

Eventually — after a timeout and what felt like an hour passed — Ted Roof changed up his defense to press the slot receivers. It worked. Miami faced a fourth-and-long from just inside Georgia Tech territory to keep the game alive. And then something fluky happened.

Throwing into double coverage, and in the rain, Malik Rosier’s pass flew just past a diving A.J. Gray’s hand and just past Lamont Simmons, who had Darrell Langham tightly guarded. It bounced off Langham’s arm, then off his facemask, and remarkably floated lightly in the air and into his hands for a converted first down.

Miami ran the clock down and set itself up for a 24-yard field goal to grab the victory.

Now, I won’t compare this to the Tennessee game. Georgia Tech’s offense completely dominated against the Volunteers. It never seemed like the Yellow Jackets ever had a chance to lose that game until late when the defense lost control and the offense had an untimely turnover.

This was different. Outside of a perfect first quarter, the offense struggled at times. The weather in the second half didn’t help, as it took away the perimeter that Tech mostly operated on early. With KirVonte Benson also out, the offense didn’t have much to work with on a muddy field and a slippery football. Still, the offense never made a huge mistake. It nearly put the game away on the final drive, but Brad Stewart couldn’t quite bring in a tough catch on the set of downs after Paul Johnson called his most creative play of the day. On a crucial third down, TaQuon Marshall faked the toss right and scrambled left behind a pulling offensive lineman to pick up the first.

So ... with two minutes left, a disastrous playing surface, a slick ball and 92 yards ahead without the best player on its offense, Miami coasted for nearly every single yard. And it used a play that required nothing but a light toss at the line of scrimmage and one block by a wide receiver.

Again, the offense could’ve been better. 273 total yards and less than 100 yards rushing after the first quarter isn’t typically going to get it done. But in those conditions, what happened on the final drive for Miami is indefensible.

The comments from this game will be interesting. A real explanation for watching the same play over and over and doing nothing about it seems impossible from Roof.

Nonetheless, Georgia Tech could quite easily be 5-0, a top 10 team and in the driver’s seat for the Coastal Division. Instead, it’s 3-2, has major injury and depth concerns and faces a tricky Wake Forest team and an angry Clemson in the next two weeks.

This feels as frustrating as any recent season. The team is clearly very good. It’s dominated four games and put itself in a perfect position to beat the 11th ranked team in the country in the fifth game. Marshall has led the offense impressively at quarterback and has the skill set necessary, and the offense has mostly been solid outside of some fumbling issues and lapses in blocking.

The defense is experienced and has played extremely well when put in the right position to. This game appeared to be the ultimate test for if the defense was finally legitimate or would fold like it has in the past once facing a tough opponent. Many times on Saturday, it appeared that it might be the former.

Instead, Miami managed nearly 500 yards and 6.5 yards per play. And when a stop was needed the most, the defense couldn’t make the play that pushed this team forward when the offense couldn’t necessarily make it happen.

Miami is talented. But the last drive was clearly nothing special, and nothing changed at all. The Jackets never made a play, but they were never actually put in a position to make one until fourth down.

Whether that’s a personnel issue or a coaching one ... I’ll leave that for you to decide.