Georgia Tech overpowers VA tech in Atlanta

Written by Brian Pohl
Atlanta, GA- Another close game in the Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech rivalry is in the books as the Yellow Jackets pulled off the upset over the 17th ranked Hokies, 28-22 in a back and forth contest.

Games between these schools always seem to be decided in the final minutes. In fact, heading into today’s contest, each of the last nine matchups since Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson took over the position in 2008 have been decided by 10 points or fewer, and today’s matchup was no different.

Coach Johnson spoke about the rivalry saying, “It’s always a spirited game when we play them. It’s turned into a pretty big rivalry.” He continued, “They’ve all been hard-fought, tough games, and I think both programs have a lot of respect for one another.”

The game started out as a defensive battle, as neither team were able to gain much ground after the first quarter ended with the Jackets leading 7-3. As the game wore on, both defenses began to wear down and be susceptible to big plays toward the later stages of the game.

Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack was steady throughout the game, and they were able to finish with 401 total yards of offense. Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall had a big game in both the running and passing game. Rushing 22 times for 64-yards and two touchdowns, the effectiveness of Marshall was a big part of why the Yellow Jackets were able to come out victorious, but it wasn’t the big story.

The big story was the effectiveness of Marshall through the air and even though he only completed two of his eight pass attempts in the game, both completions went for big plays that proved to be the difference in the game. The first came in the first half, as Marshall connected with junior wide receiver Brad Stewart for a 60-yard touchdown. The score was Stewart’s first of his career and the longest completion of the season for the Yellow Jackets, until it was surpassed later in the game.

That score came in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Virginia Tech had just regained momentum and their first lead since their opening drive of the game, after Marshall threw a pick-six to Virginia Tech cornerback Greg Stroman. In dire need of a big drive to stop the momentum swing, Marshall connected with redshirt-senior wide receiver Ricky Jeune for an 80-yard touchdown that retook the lead for the Jackets and eventually, the victory.

Coach Johnson joked about his quarterback only completing two of his passes saying, “He only had two completions, but both were touchdowns and ended up being 140 yards? So, we’ll live with that. That’s a pretty good average.”

Along with Marshall, Georgia Tech running back Kirvonte Benson continues to be successful running the football. Rushing 22 times for 86-yards, Benson was a big reason why the Yellow Jackets were able to control the ball and have long sustaining drives to tire the Hokie defense. Fellow Georgia Tech running back Nathan Cottrell also assisted in the rushing total with a 69-yard rush that set up Marshall first quarter rushing touchdown.

The Georgia Tech defense kept the Virginia Tech offense in check, holding them to just 258 yards of total offense for the game. Georgia Tech linebacker Brant Mitchell led the team with nine total tackles, including a sack on Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson.

Coach Johnson spoke of his team fighting through adversity to win the game after the pick six. “I was proud of our guys. I think they showed a lot of grit and determination. We got up and then we threw the pick-six and got down, it would’ve been easy to hang our head. Then we hit a big play to get the lead back and [were] able to hold on this time.”

Georgia Tech will look to build on this victory as they travel to play at Duke next week. With a season record now of 5-4, the Yellow Jackets will need to win one of their final two games to guarantee bowl eligibility.

Georgia Tech and Duke will kick off on November 18th at 3:30 p.m. from Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

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