Georgia Tech had just scored its second touchdown in as many second-half possessions to take a 26-21 lead and forced a Virginia Tech three-and-out. Then Yellow Jacket sophomore linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu punched Logan Thomas in the head.
The punch (which should have resulted in Attaochu's ejection) and the subsequent 15-yard personal foul penalty kept the Hokies' drive alive, resulting in a 12-yard Thomas touchdown run and Virginia Tech reclaiming the lead for good.
On the ensuing drive, Georgia Tech went for it on fourth-and-one from its own 31 and came up short. The Hokies capitalized on a Thomas touchdown pass and wouldn't trail again to stay a game ahead in the loss column of the ACC Coastal with two games to play.
Now, regardless of what happens next week against North Carolina, they are a win over Virginia away from returning to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game.
The Attaochu punch and the resulting drive changed the momentum of the game, which had previously been claimed by Georgia Tech. A 63-yard touchdown pass by Logan Thomas to Coaled-Blooded Danny Coale gave the Hokies a 21-10 lead, but the Jackets kicked a field goal at the halftime gun and scored 16 consecutive points after their first two second-half drives.
Five running plays later, the Hokies had the lead again and never looked back. The score was Thomas' second rushing touchdown of the game in what turned out to be a five-touchdown performance by the sophomore quarterback. On the ground, he ran the ball 18 times for 70 yards, two touchdowns and converted five third- or fourth-down attempts.
Through the air, he was 7-for-13 for 209 yards and three touchdowns.He didn't take chances, he make plays when he had to and he took charge of the team in a hostile environment. Thomas was impressive tonight both in his play and his demeanor. He showed flashes of what the Tech fans hope he can be and rarely looked like the first-year quarterback he resembled the last two games.
David Wilson was also excellent, averaging 7.6 yards per carry while rushing for a career-high 175 yards. Not to be lost was a 24-yard effort by Josh Oglesby that saw a lot of hard running that allowed the Hokies to give Wilson a breather when he needed it.
Finally, the Hokies' defense was excellent. In 2009, Georgia Tech made some changes to its blocking scheme in the second half and ran it down Virginia Tech's throat. This year seemed to be a replay, but the Hokies made their own adjustments and held the Jackets to -14 yards after those first two touchdown drives to start the third quarter.
The moves Bud Foster made earlier in the week worked and Jack Tyler, J.R. Collins and Tyrel Wilson were three of the Hokies' four leading tacklers. Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum also had good games for Virginia Tech, particularly in the second half to help shut down Georgia Tech's spread option when it mattered most.
The Hokies did all the things they had to do to win this game: They made key stops, had time consuming drives that resulted in touchdowns and for the most part kept their wits and didn't make mental mistakes. And more importantly, they took advantage of the mental mistakes Georgia Tech made.