Georgia Tech came into the day with hopes of getting a win against Virginia Tech at homecoming, getting back to .500, and keeping the bowl hopes alive. But it wasn’t to be. Virginia Tech dominated the first half and made the big plays in the second half to secure the win.
Any look into what went wrong needs to start at the line of scrimmage. Virginia Tech was getting a good push on most of their run plays and Braxton Burmeister had all day in the pocket. This became especially notable late in the game when it was obvious that VT was going to run and GT still wasn’t able to stop them. On the other side of the ball the Hokies were hitting running backs in the backfield and getting to Jeff Sims even with only 3 or 4 rushers. Maybe the most important play of the game saw GT with a 4th and 2 from about the 10 yard line down 6. They run up the middle with Jordan Mason, but the offensive line doesn’t get much push and Mason gets stuffed.
The other major issue was the GT secondary just straight leaving receivers uncovered, often because they were biting on fakes. Braxton Burmeister wasn’t making super tough throws, but they were still able to generate big plays because of blown assignments.
The Hokies opened up scoring on one such play. Burmeister faked a screen which brought three Yellow Jacket defenders rushing to the line of scrimmage as Tre Turner went uncontested down the field. Burmeister made the simple pass and it was an easy touchdown to make it 7-0. Georgia Tech came right back and moved the ball down the field quickly before being stopped at the VT 26 for a 4th and 4. The Yellow Jackets went for it with a fade to the endzone and Sims made the perfect throw to McGowan to tie it up at 7.
Then Virginia Tech just ran the ball down Georgia Tech’s throat on the next drive. They ran 7 straight plays for gains of 4, 5, 3, 4, 7, 5, and 4 yards (with a facemask penalty in there). They finally got a 4th and 1 from the four yard line and threw a simple touchdown pass to take the 14-7 lead. At this point it looked like the game might develop into a shootout, but the next few drives all ended in punts. Virginia Tech finally got on the board again with a field goal with 4:51 left in the half. The Yellow Jackets weren’t able to do anything and the Hokies moved the ball quickly in their two minute drill to finish with another field goal at the end of the half to make it 20-7.
VT’s offense had drives of 6, 86, 75, 36, 70, and 64. They surpassed their average yardage total just in the first half. It looked like the Hokies might run away with it.
To start the second half the Yellow Jackets had a nice drive culminating in what looked like a touchdown by Jack Coco, but was called back for holding. Brent Cimaglia kicked the field goal to make it 20-10. The Yellow Jackets then made a quick stop. It seemed as if GT might be getting some momentum, but on the very next play a rusher knocked the ball out of Jeff Sims hand and the Hokies recovered at the GT 17. The defense made another solid stop to force the field goal to make it 23-10. But then things started changing. The next Hokie possession started with a short-ish field, but the defense made another solid stand and forced a long field attempt that just missed. Then the Yellow Jackets came right back with a 4-play 64 yard touchdown drive capped by a fantastic run after the catch by Adonicas Sanders to get into the endzone.
After one more stop by the defense it looked like things had permanently swung in the Jackets direction. When the next drive started with a 61-yard run by Jahmyr Gibbs to the VT 20 it seemed like GT was about to take the lead. Unfortunately this is where Mason got stuffed on the 4th and 2 to end the drive. The Hokies took advantage by running the ball down GT’s throat. The 85-yard drive ended with a short field goal to make it a 2 possession game (26-17) and took 7:01 off the clock leaving GT just 4 minutes to try for two scores. The time on the clock didn’t end up mattering because the Yellow Jackets couldn’t move the ball and Jeff Sims threw a pick on 4th down to end their hopes.
This was a disappointing game for many reasons. The circumstances are one (Homecoming, bowl chances etc.), but the gameplay was too. Three huge plays for VT happened on straight busted coverages. The Hokies just kept ripping off 4 and 5 yard runs and GT couldn’t stop it. The Yellow Jackets didn’t force a turnover...again. In the last 4 weeks the team has forced only a single turnover. This was a struggling team that is likely about to fire its coach and the Yellow Jackets still weren’t able to beat them at home.
Next week the Yellow Jackets head to Miami to face the Hurricanes who just beat Pitt.