After a much needed bye week, the Yellow Jackets traveled north to Charlottesville for a chance at breaking .500 on the year.
The first quarter looked and felt a lot like the Duke game. Georgia Tech started with the ball, hit a few explosive plays, and then proceeded to take an early lead after a 36-yard touchdown pass to Kyric McGowan. A forced three-and-out by the defense gave Jeff Sims a chance to add to the lead, and he took advantage, leading the Yellow Jackets on a methodical, 5-minute drive that found the end zone. Dontae Smith continued his sophomore success and hit paydirt on a 3-yard TD run. Unfortunately the extra point was blocked, making the score 13-0.
But, after a hot start, the Yellow Jacket offense slowed down considerably as the Virginia Cavaliers started to find a groove. Brennan Armstrong would go 4 for 5 on the following 9-play drive, finding the end zone on a 1-yard pass. He threw the ball a lot Saturday night. Even if they only needed 1 yard.
The next drive would see the end of the first quarter and the end of Georgia Tech’s first half offensive production. The Jackets did kick a field goal to stretch the lead to 9, but those would be the last first half points for Georgia Tech.
Virginia, on the other hand, went on to dominate the second quarter by scoring 17 unanswered points and gaining 250 of their 329 first half yards. The second quarter also saw the first turnover of the game, an interception thrown by Jeff Sims as the Yellow Jackets were driving. That play marked the turning point of the game.
The second half saw fireworks, as well, as Virginia started the scoring by kicking a field goal on their opening drive. Jahmyr Gibbs would very quickly do his part in trying to shift the momentum by finding the end zone on a 71-yard run right up the middle for a touchdown. This is the dangerous Jahmyr Gibbs we’ve been wanting to see all year. A successful 2-point conversion brought the score back to 27-24, with Virginia in front.
The elation of Tech’s touchdown was promptly deflated as Brennan Armstrong ran for two consecutive touchdowns to extend the Cavaliers lead back to 17. Those touchdowns bookended a 5-play drive that resulted in Georgia Tech’s third punt of the game.
After exchanging a couple more punts and bringing the third quarter to a close, Georgia Tech put together an 8-play drive, kicked a field goal, and masterfully executed a pooch kick to stick Virginia inside their own 5-yard line.
However, Virginia was able to get out of that bind and put together a 5-minute, 96-yard touchdown drive to apparently ice the game. After all, a 21-point lead with 3:50 left in the game seems insurmountable.
Well, on the next drive, Jeff Sims hit Kalani Norris for a 37-yard touchdown, and then Malachi Carter recovered one of the wackiest onside kicks I’ve ever seen. The Tech offense came right down the field and scored another touchdown, but failed to convert a questionable 2-point play call. And then the unthinkable happened. Georgia Tech recovered ANOTHER onside kick. A couple quick completions led to an opportunity for Jeff Sims to find the end zone, but the 31-yard attempt was batted down at the goal line as time expired.
At the end of the day, Georgia Tech’s defense had no consistent answer for the Virginia offense. They finished with 636 total yards, converted 7 out of 11 third downs, and scored the second most points given up by the Tech defense all season.
After a bye week, it’s not the performance we were hoping for as the team had two weeks to prepare for this Virginia offense. We will see how the Jackets respond against Virginia Tech on 10/30. Tune in later this week for more detailed analysis of the game!