What is this team? They are alternating wins and losses, they have some really tough losses on the year, but they beat Miami in Miami and just took down UNC in a thriller. This wasn’t a fluke at all. Georgia Tech just pounded the ball at the Tar Heels in the fourth quarter and it worked.
The game got off to an inauspicious start when North Carolina jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Georgia Tech crawled back into the game behind some very good play from Haynes King and the receivers, particularly Malik Rutherford and Eric Singleton.
The Georgia Tech offense continued to play well in the second half, but it felt like a game where GT would need a few breaks to pull it out. It looked like the Yellow Jackets got that break early in the second half when they made a terrific punt block. That was squandered on the very next play when King threw a horrific interception. UNC would score a touchdown on that drive to go up two scores and things felt dire.
Then GT started running the ball and didn’t stop. A few drives later GT had a 9-play 88-yard touchdown drive. 8 of the 9 plays were runs and the shortest one was the 4-yard touchdown run. This was a harbinger of things to come.
Unfortunately UNC came right back with a long kick return leading to a quick touchdown to go up 42-32. GT needed a quick comeback score and boy did they get it. On the second play of their next drive Dontae Smith ripped off a 70-yard touchdown run to get it back to 42-39.
Then came the next break. UNC had a solid drive that petered out in GT territory. They tried a 39-yard field goal, but missed. On the first play going the other way GT ran a read option. King pulled the ball late and UNC was out of position so he sped up the middle for 52 yards. A few runs later GT was inside the 5-yard line on 3rd and Goal. King scrambled after the pocket collapsed and made a late through right down the sideline to Brett Seither who made a fantastic toe drag to stay inbounds for the touchdown.
Now GT was up 4 with under 5 minutes left. They needed one more break. On 3rd and 17 Drake Maye found Tez Walker deep over the middle for what would have been a big play. He got flattened by a defender he never saw coming and fumbled to GT. He appeared to sustain a serious injury on the play (although the hit came nowhere near his head and thankfully he was moving all of his extremities).
Now all GT had to do was run for a few first downs and it was over. With how they’d been running all over UNC (254 rush yards...in the fourth quarter) they were able to do that without too much drama.
Wow. Just wow. What a win. There were some negatives, but we’re ignoring them for now. Haynes King looked great. Dontae Smith announced his presence with 178 yards. The team as a whole had 348 rushing yards on 7.3 yards per carry. The defense did enough to get the job done. Aidan Birr hit a 40-yard field goal right down the middle before half.
This is a win worth celebrating.