In a suspenseful and thrilling homecoming game at Bobby Dodd Stadium featuring the Atlanta Skyline. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels 46-42 on Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets trailed by as many as 14 points in the first quarter, but they rallied to take a 46-42 lead in the fourth quarter and held on for the victory.
The first series of downs for both teams were opposites. Georgia Tech could only muster 14 yards while quarterback Haynes King scrambled for his life as he was under siege by the Tar Heel’s big boys in the trenches.
The Tarheels started with big chunk plays steamrolling right over the Yellow Jackets into the endzone. They truly dominated. It looked as if Tech had run into a locomotive in power blue helmets. It looked bleak when Tech decided to go for it on 4th and 2 from the 46-yard line and was denied.
Omarion Hampton exerted his will, broke out of the arms of a would-be-tacker, and sprinted 17 yards to the endzone. The best way to describe that is “poor tackling.” At the 4:30 mark of 1st quarter, it was 14-0. It’s time to bring out the Tylenol. Tech was stunned and sluggish but hanging on the ropes. It’s going to be a long night. But the skyline is beautiful.
Tech came alive in the second quarter. They threw to the wideout for short gains, but on this one, the 3-yard toss was complimented with the all-important 42 yards after the catch for a spectacular touchdown. 5 plays 69 yards. Malik Rutherford.
Drake Mayes answered with a 46-yard strike to Bryson Nesbit’s open sprinting on a post route across the field. 21-7 Tar Hills were pounding the Yellow Jackets, taking the venom out of their sting.
Brett Seither’s 35-yard touchdown pass closed the gap at 21-14. Each time I counted the Yellow Jackets out, they stayed alive. They didn’t want to go away. Eric Singleton Jr. caught a 43-yard high arching strike over the shoulder in stride down the sideline.
A left foot followed by a right foot shuffle left the defender looking for his undergarments as Malik Rutherford scored on a 14-yard pass to tie the game at 21-21.
The critical play of the drive was a 32-yard pass to Devontez Walker. They scored at halftime to make the score 28-21 on an Omarion Hampton 3-yard touchdown run right up the middle. .45 seconds.
Not to be denied, Tech put together a masterful drive in 45 seconds to kick a 40-yard field goal by Aidan Birr. The score was 28-24 at halftime.
Georgia Tech had 360 total yards with 268 yards passing. UNC had a total of 287 yards.
After the break, Georgia Tech continued playing the momentum, blocking a punt. Drake Maye saw the parting of the green sea and cruised past defenders for a 14-yard scamper that changed the scoreboard to 35-24.
A booming 61-yard punt by David Shannahan buried the Tarheels at the 4-yard line.
Tech on the move: Jamal Haynes picks up 29 yards. They rode the Haynes Train on five consecutive plays to score on a 4-yard plunge. Tech converted for 2 points to make it interesting, 35-32, with 12:02 remaining in the fourth quarter. The student section was thunderous.
The defense would give up a big play each time the Jackets performed well offensively. This time, there are two back-to-back, and just like that, UNC strikes on 2 plays 38-yard drive to extend the lead by 10.
Tech answers with a 70-yard blast by Dontae Smith to return to striking distance of 3 points.
On cue, the Yellow Jackets defense gives up another bit of play. Bryson Nesbitt catches a 29-yard pass.
The drive stalled, and kicker Noah Burnett missed the 39-yard field goal attempt to the pleasure of the Georgia Tech faithful. The defense finally came through at a critical time to set the offense up for the game-winning drive with seven minutes remaining.
The anticipation for something dramatic was in the air. Tech deserves this one. QB Haynes King faked out the defense and kept the ball on a 52-yard run to the 17-yard line. A perfect slingshot pass inches to the sideline in the endzone caused the officials to delay a call to build the anticipation before they raised both arms to signal touchdown in favor of Georgia Tech. But with today’s rule, they called a touchdown to force a review. The touchdown call withstood the microscope. Georgia Tech had their first lead of the game at 46 – 42 before the speakers blasted Welcome to Atlanta by Juman Dupri, and the light show incited the crowd.
UNC faced first and seventeen. The quarterback had all day to throw a 36-yard strike to Devontez Walker. Amari Harvey nailed him, causing a fumble to give Georgia Tech the recovery. There was a scary delay as Walker lay on the ground in agony.
UNC needed a great defensive stand to get the ball back, but Georgia Tech forced them to burn timeouts as they gutted out first downs to seal the victory. The fans excitedly stormed the field. I couldn’t believe it. UNC allowed Georgia Tech to hang around, and they did what they were supposed to. Win an exciting game between ACC foes to celebrate homecoming. This is the most exciting game at Georgia Tech in years.
The Yellow Jackets’ comeback victory was a testament to their resilience and determination. They never gave up, even when they were down by 14 points in the first quarter. The victory was also a massive boost to the Georgia Tech program.
Key Facts of the Game
Georgia Tech amassed 635 yards but allowed 577 yards
UNC shot themselves in the foot with eight penalties
Yellow Jackets 4-4 and Tar Heels 5-5; they both knew what to do when they got in scoring position.
- Haynes King, Georgia Tech: King completed 23 of 30 passes for 287 yards with 4 touchdowns. He also rushed for 52 yards.
- Dontae Smith, Georgia Tech: Smith rushed for 178 yards on 22 carries with 1 touchdown.
- Eric Singleton Jr., Georgia Tech: Singleton Jr. caught 8 passes for 118 yards with 1 touchdown.
- Omarion Hampton, North Carolina: Hampton rushed for 153 yards on 29 carries with 2 touchdowns.
- Drake Maye, North Carolina: Maye completed 17 of 25 passes for 310 yards with 2 touchdowns and rushed for 14 yards and 1 touchdown.
On the other hand, the North Carolina Tar Heels were dealt a significant blow with their loss to the Yellow Jackets. The Tar Heels had been one of the hottest teams in the country, but the loss showed that they were not invincible. The Tar Heels will now need to regroup and refocus to achieve their goals for the season.