After a thorough thrashing at the hands of Clemson last week Georgia Tech mentally rebounded against its second nationally ranked team in consecutive weeks but came up short. Two defensive touchdowns by Miami made the difference. On back to back possessions Tech fumbled and both were returned for touchdowns. (5) QB Justin Thomas was hammered from the blind side by (33) T Harris, the ball went one way and Thomas the other, it was picked up by (55) LB Shaquille Quarterman who trotted 17 yards for a touchdown. Then on the succeeding play Thomas got caught up between pitching it and keeping it he said.
“The first one was supposed to be a pass. I got hit from behind, the ball came out. The second one was supposed to be a pitch. (A-back J.J. Green and I) were close together. He wasn’t looking, so I pulled (the ball) in. I was going down at the same time and the ball came out … Those two turnovers hurt us and that was pretty much the turning point in the game.”
A Defensive Lineman’s’ dream became reality for (99) Joe Jackson who scooped up the fumble like a loaf of bread and went 18 yards for his first collegiate touchdown, just like that 14 points. Perhaps Thomas was experiencing some after affects caused by that Mack truck. He had to be wondering where it came from.
Brad Kayaak the former ACC Freshman of the year played like the seasoned veteran he has become as a junior. He was so poised, made the right reads, threw the ball deep when it was open and checked down to the right receivers when it wasn’t there. The good ones make it look effortless. He went 13-19-241 yards and one touchdown. None more impressive than the 31 yarder he threw to (3) Stacy Coley to highlight a 4 play, 75 yard drive that lasted only 1:33. This was the answer to a Georgia Techs statement 9 play, 65 yard drive that lasted 5:20 in the third quarter. It was significant because the Rambling Wreck crowd was alive with hope coming out of the halftime break with such a determined drive to make the score Miami 28 -Tech 21. All it took was three laser sharp passes to bring the decibel back down to zero.
Freshman sensation, B Back (26) Dedrick Mills, one of the nation’s top true freshmen, continued to impress scoring three touchdowns bringing his season total to eight, after missing the home opener due to suspension for violating team rules. Perhaps he has plans of playing his way out of the dog house. He finished the day with a personal best of 99 yards on 19 carries (5.2 avg.) Mills is ranked fifth among all NCAA Division 1 FBS true freshmen with 67 rushing yards per game.
The combination of him and Quay Searcy who is coming back from a season ending injury from a year ago appears to be developing into a special duo. That looks good for the future, but today it was all Miami. The 14th ranked team in the country displayed why they are drawing attention with the 2nd ranked defense in the nation and first in the ACC. Anytime your defense scores It’s a plus when they give you two it’s your day.
Actually, it was current Miami Head Coach Mark Richt’s day formerly of their across town arch rival Georgia Bulldogs where he holds an impressive 13-2 record against Georgia Tech. He had to be pleased with the victory on his first trip back to the state where he coached for 15 seasons. A marriage has gone sour, perhaps for the best, he landed at his Alma Moto and appears to be bringing the swagger back to the CANES.
“It was special being with this group of young men that we’ve worked so hard with. When you get to a new school, early on I’m watching tape of what they did last year, and I don’t know the guys. I don’t know names and faces, their stories. Then, when you get to know their names, get to know their faces, see them work, see them strive to do what we’re asking them to do, you look at it differently. Now if I watch a highlight or a replay from this year, I know all these guys and love all these guys. I’m proud of how hard they play and how hard our coaches have been coaching them … everybody is pulling in the same direction right now. It’s a tough league. College football is tough to get it done every week, and we got it done this week.”
They lead the nation in three major categories; team tackles for loss (13.3), scoring defense (7.7) and sacks (4.40). They have outscored their opponents 153-23 and have allowed only two touchdowns this season. When it comes to rushing yardage the advantage is in their favor 816-195 in the first three games to which they were 3-0, after today 4-0.
Tech picked up where they left off last week running the no huddle offense hoping to get an edge on the defense, playing the adage defense wins championships this one set the tone on the first play of the game representing a brick wall for the runner. (5) Justin Thomas went into his bag of tricks with a fake left spin right that resulted in a smack by all 6’4, 285 Lbs. of Defensive Tackle (91) Gerald Willis. After a blocking below the waist penalty by (70), Will Bryan presented them with a 3rd and 25.
That’s the kind of day it was for the Yellow Jackets a mountain of struggles.
Head Coach Paul Johnson provided us with the reality.
“It was a tough game, disappointing in that we gifted them two scores there in the second quarter off turnovers and it ended up being a momentum changer and a big part of the game. I thought we had a chance to get back in the game and we stalled out, had a couple key drops there in the end zone that hurt. We’re not good enough, there are very few teams out there that are good enough, to turn the ball over twice for touchdowns and come back and win a game. We made way too many mistakes again. We’ve got to do a better job preparing them [the team]. In the first half, we had two probably gimme touchdowns on play action if we protect the thing right and there’s no excuse for what we did. There’s no excuse.”
The Miami offense marched onto the field and marched directly down the field for the games first score, key play, a tight rope 25-yard pass to (3) Stacey Coley from (15) Brad Kaaya. (2) Joe Yearby finished off the 8 play, 85-yard drive that lasted just under three minutes with a 27 yard run with 6:17 remaining in the first quarter.
The Jackets got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter to tie the game at 7 – 7 when (26) Dedrick Mills tore off left tackle like a sheet of paper following (28) JJ Green who made one of the most beautiful down field blocks I have ever seen. If the rules permitted his name should appear next to the score in the stat sheets with an asterisk.
We would never get Head Coach Paul Johnson to consider accepting the compliment of a moral victory he has to be impressed with the character his team displayed in this loss but the Jackets played a Helluva game against a better team and came up on the wrong side on the scoreboard. They didn’t quit after those turnovers.
I end with Head Coach Mark Richt comments:
“I’m thankful for how our players played and how our coaches got them prepared. The energy of our fan base was outstanding. You’ve got to tip your hat to Georgia Tech and how they played. Obviously, they had the two turnovers, which were gifts to us. Without those, we’re probably still playing. There’s a possibility that we’re in overtime. It was a good job by Paul and his staff as well, and the fight that those young men had over there. That’s the beauty of college football. Guys left it all on the field for their schools, and that gives us all a lot of excitement.”
Miami accepted these gifts and went on to win this one 35-21. Next up for the Yellow Jackets Pitt Panthers