On the opening kick (28) J.J Green gave a brief scare with a little bobble, anytime that type of thing happens it could be an indication of how the game is going to go. Should it be returned for a score it’s your day, on the other hand, if disaster strikes in fumble it could be devastating. Fortunately for Georgia Tech it was just a teaser because on the first snap of the game Paul Johnson dialed up a fake sweep pass (5) Justin Thomas looked like he tossed it to the running back, instead he stepped back, and hit (34) Marcus Marshall on an 81 yard bomb for a touchdown. It had to look like a sea of green grass as he ran to daylight his only concern was not allowing the green monster (grass) to trip him before he crossed the goal line.
Perhaps they saw something on film where the cornerback had a tendency to overreact quickly commit on the sweep to his side. Whatever it was it worked to perfection. Now that’s a way to grab the momentum when those kinds of things happen so early in the game you know it’s your day. And his day it was, (5) Justin Thomas ran the triple option to near perfection making the right reads, holding the ball to the last second, taking the hit, and pitching at the right time ensuring the defender commit then react. So poised and so much control he really showed why he is indeed the best trigger man for the job.
Coach Johnson surmised his performance. “I thought he played well. I had challenged him a little earlier, I told him we needed some more out of him rushing, and he had a couple of nice runs. I think he would have had a couple others if he had stayed outside he could have really (broken) when he sees on the film he’s going to be disappointed, but I thought we got contributions out of pretty much all the guys. Deddrick Mills got some tough yards, they were kind of committed to stopping the B-back inside, which is fine, it opens up the pitches, and we had some huge plays on the perimeter when we got the thing executed right.”
Last week against Mercer the team just didn’t seem to be that motivated things was just a bit off, today it all seemed to come together against their SEC foe Vanderbilt from 247 miles away across the Tennessee line. These ACC and SEC opponents despite being so close have an interesting history. Georgia Tech hasn’t lost to Vanderbilt since Oct. 18th, 1941. They have played only three times since 1967 in 2002, 2003, and 2009. Since 1924 the winner has received a silver-plated cowbell with the score engraved. When asked about the coveted cowbell during the press conference Paul Johnson smiled and said: “we presented it in the dressing room”.
After a thunderous kickoff for a touchback by (87), Harrison Buckner Vanderbilt got on the score board on their first possession with a little assistance from overly aggressive Defensive Tackle (92) Francis Kallon on a face mask penalty that resulted in a first down. (14) Kyle Shurmur connected with (16)-Kalija Lipscomb for 10-yard touchdown pass to cap off an 11 play, 75 yards, drive.
Feeling the momentum of their big play touchdown (28) JJ Green energetically returned the kickoff 33 yards. Dispelling the lethargic play of last week (5) Justin Thomas took the keeper 19 yards “it looked like he was going to the house.” On the next play, the Defensive End read the play well and committed to Thomas so he did what he was supposed to do pitched it to (26) Dedrick Mills. The Freshman Running Back who has future star written all over him took it off the right side of a 15 yard run into the fun zone for their second consecutive score at 14-7.
This was clearly not the same team we saw last week they had the same names and numbers but they were more alive more focused and determined.
After reaching their own 42-yard line Vanderbilt found themselves with an interesting proposition on 4th and 2. Originally the decision was to go for it but they second guessed it and called time out to think about the benefits and consequences. They decided the risk was too high so they punted away. In the second quarter, there was a little back-n-forth, the downing of a punt by the Yellow Jackets at the Vandy 1 Yard line, a botched snap that exploded on the Vandy punter. A pass interference called that caused the fans to serenade the officials with some boos.
Other than that, there was nothing to press worthy until the Yellow Jackets (87) Harrison Buckner succeeded on a 41-yard field goal when an 11 play, 60-yard drive stalled with 2:24 left on the clock. It’s always great to get the last score or the half and if it propels you to the lead it’s like a slow roasting dagger in a rotisserie chicken.
Vandy came out for the second half determined using the hurry up offense to change the pace of the game they methodically moved the ball down to the Yellow Jackets 28 yard line. They went for the first down on 4th and 1 but found a brick wall of defenders. The spot was so close it required the review team upstairs to take a look at it. Great effort but no cigar, the Jackets held. It was the play of the second half as Vandy put momentum on the line. If they had made it they would have put themselves right back in the game, they didn’t so momentum immediately swung to Georgia Tech as players high fived and kick their legs high. Looking in the review mirror, I wonder if head coach Derek Mason second guessed the decision you know the critic’s will. Some will say they should have kicked the field goal and came out of it with 3 points after all 3 points is better than none.
Coach’s see things the fans don’t he could have thought since GT was hitting on all cylinders he needed to close that gap now because he was unsure if his team was going to get that close again. If you get it the most precious thing in college football is on your side, “momentum.”Speaking of momentum it showed up in the next Georgia Tech drive, first (5) Justin Thomas dashed for 22 yards. (22) Clinton Lynch tore off for 29 more yards but the run was called back for holding by (5) Torren McGaster. (3) Isiah Willis went right for 11 yards before he lost control of the ball as he hit the ground, causing the crowd to moan a bit, fortunately, he was declared down. On the next play (26) Dedrick Mills won the battle at the goal line and took it in for the score from 4 yards out. That was an impressive 10 play, 72-yard drive to make a statement at 24-7 with 6:02 remaining in the third quarter.
Vandy got the ball back but the Jackets defense was swarming with enthusiasm forcing them out after 3 quick plays. Players were jumping around high fiving each other and of course, the band was playing some of that feel good music. Georgia Tech was able to put on two more scores one by Dedrick Mills on a 5-yard scamper and another on a 77-yard bomb by (11) Mathew Jordan to (22) Clinton Lynch. Vandy couldn’t really put anything else together the Swarming Yellow Jackets were just too much for them to handle. Georgia Techs out performed them in all aspects of the game. Total offensive yards 511 to 275. They rushed for 289 yards and passed for another 222 more. When the passing game is used to keep the defense honest it really opens up the triple threat. And that is Georgia Tech Football at its finest.
Keep the Cowbell in Atlanta. Georgia Tech swarmed Vanderbilt 38-7