Many things can happen in a bye week. In Blacksburg, Frank Beamer announced his retirement which sent shockwaves throughout the college football universe. Fast forward to Thursday night, as the Hokies invaded Atlanta to take on the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech entered the game with a 4-5 record and needed to win 2 of the next 3 to be bowl eligible. The bowl streak stands at 22 consecutive seasons, the longest in college football. Georgia Tech entered the tilt with a 3-6 mark, quite a difference from preseason expectations. The A.C.C. media picked Georgia Tech to win the Coastal division at media days in Pinehurst, and the Jackets never got it going this season. Paul Johnson's club entered the game a 2 point favorite against the visiting Hokies.
The Jackets wasted little time setting the tone. They took the opening kickoff and marched down the field against the Hokies. Justin Thomas found Ricky Jeune for a 58 yard back breaker. Marcus Allen punched in the 4 yard TD, and 1:45 into the game the Jackets led 7-0.
The Hokies couldn't muster a first down and quickly gave the ball back to the Jackets. After driving, the Jackets had to punt. The special teams from Georgia Tech pinned the Hokies at the one yard line. Michael Brewer and company got themselves out of a 3rd and forever with a huge first down to Bucky Hodges. The Hokies were stifled when Brewer hooked up with Cam Phillips on a big gainer. Phillips coughed it up for the game's first turnover. Georgia Tech wasted no time running the ball straight at the Hokies defense, and Clinton Lynch busted a sweep outside for the 4 yard TD. 14-0 Georgia Tech.
The Hokies needed to respond in a bad way. After an obvious Wyatt Teller holding call, the first quarter mercifully came to a close.14-0 Jackets. All of the momentum was on the side of the Yellow Jackets, and the Hokies were looking listless at best. After trying Brenden Motley for a snap, Brewer and the offense couldn't convert the 3rd and Lexington. A.J. Hughes did his part, pinning the Jackets at their own 6. Again, the Jackets ran all over the Hokies. When faced with a 3rd and 6, the Hokies defense finally responded forcing a punt. Brewer pushed the tempo. The VT QB eventually found Cam Phillips for a 45 yard pitch and catch, and the Hokies were in business. After the Jackets defense forced a 3rd and goal, the Hokies gave it to Travon McMillian for the touchdown!. Jackets 14-7.
The Jackets took the ball back, and this time the Hokies were ready. After a pedestrian 3 and out, the Hokies looked to continue on the new found momentum. Michael Brewer engineered a time eating drive, and the Hokies were in the red zone with a little over a minute to play in the half. That's when Brewer decided he liked outside shoulder throws and found his favorite target, Isiaiah Ford, Tech14, Tech 14. The Hokies had scored 14 unanswered at this point, and our old friend momentum was riding shotgun.
Georgia Tech ran the clock out, and it was halftime.VT 14 GT 14. Here is how the first half stats looked:
|Virginia Tech Hokies||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets|
|3rd Down Efficiency||5-8||1-4|
|4th Down Efficiency||0-0||0-0|
The Hokies got the ball to start the second half, and they looked not quite ready for prime time. Brewer didn't see a LB, and Brant Mitchell ran the pick 6 all the way to the house. It appeared Brewer didn't see him at all, and the two time Mr. Football from Tennessee made him pay.
32-yard INT return TD for GT halts #Hokies momentum. GT goes back up 21-14. 14:00 left in 3rd quarter— #GameDay4Frank (@VT_Football) November 13, 2015
Brewer was a bit gun shy on the next possesion, and the Hokies decided to feed Travon McMillian. After some nice carries, Brewer opened it up a bit, and the Hokies got 3 on a 9 play drive. Joey Slye hit a 29 yard FG to pull the Hokies within 4. 21-17 Georgia Tech with 8:42 left in the 3rd quarter. The Yellow Jackets hadn't passed the ball for 18 straight plays at this point, and the option was the name of the game. Justin Thomas ran a sprint option to his right, and lost the ball after a strong hit and the Hokies captured their first turnover of the game.
The Hokies couldn't muster much with the free possession and went 3 and out. Georgia Tech muffed the A.J. Hughes punt, but GT recovered. The VT defense held firm, and quickly got the ball back. Brewer wasted no time in finding Cam Phillips, putting the Hokies in GT territory. Joey Slye, this time couldn't convert, and with the game heading to the 4th quarter, the score remained 21-17, GT.
When Georgia Tech was faced with a 4th and 1 near midfield, there was no surprise that GT decided to go for it. Deon Clarke gave the Jackets a first down with an ill-timed off sides penalty. That gave GT a much needed first down with the lead, then it was Dadi Nicholas' time to shine. The big guy forced a HUGE turnover that stopped the Jacket's drive in its tracks.
With 10:41 left in the 4th, the Hokies looked poised to strike. Alas, the Hokies were stymied, and were forced to punt it back to Georgia Tech. Hughes put in in the endzone for the touchback, and the Hokie defense trotted wearily back onto the field. Woody Baron then decided to take matters in his own hands. The big hitter caused yet another GT fumble to gift wrap a Hokie possession in the Jackets' red zone. Faced with a 3rd and 7, Brewer tried to find Bucky Hodges and missed. Unfortunately for the Jackets, the referees thought Hodges was interfered with. FIRST DOWN HOKIES! Brewer wasted no time, handing off to Travon McMillian for the touchdown, and the first Hokie lead of the night. Groza award finalist Joey Slye missed the XP (due to a rolling snap) and the Hokies held only a 2 point lead. 23-21, Hokies with just under 7 minutes left in the game.
Two turnovers, a missed FG and a missed extra point. And still the #Hokies have found a way to take a 23-21 lead with 6:58 to play.— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) November 13, 2015
Georgia Tech was ready for the challenge. and Justin Thomas was poised to exploit the Hokies defense. This time the GT offensive line was helping on a crucial 3rd and 1,jumping offsides. Marcus Allen dropped a sure big gainer, and the Hokies were ready to get the ball again. The Hokies were now, and finally ready to feed Travon and J.C. Coleman, and the rest of the backfield. When the Hokies got to a 3rd and medium with only 4 minutes left, they took a timeout to give it their best. Brewer missed Hodges, and there was hope for Georgia Tech.
When the Yellow Jackets got the ball, Deon Clarke had a huge mistake. he hit Justin Thomas out of bounds, spotting GT 15 extra yards in a 2 point ballgame. The Jackets were quickly in VT territory, with time elapsing. Georgia Tech paid Clarke back with a bad personal foul call of its own. It was a huge 15 yard mistake for a lightly penalized team. It set up a near impossible 3rd and 20 with less than a minute left. The defense held, and the Hokies' bowl streak was still alive.