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Recap: Hokies Come from Behind to Outlast Georgia Tech

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They say a win is a win. The Virginia Tech Hokies come from behind and then hold on to beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in a 'homely' but very welcomed win. Frank Beamer rules Thursday Nights and the Hokies pulled this one out of their favorite helmets.

Travon McMillan, again a big night which is as it should be
Travon McMillan, again a big night which is as it should be
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Virginia Tech Hokies outlast the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets coming from behind twice,  one to tie, and one to inch ahead for the win.  The final score 23-21 without any room to spare save a yellow hanky and a big sack.

If wins are to be described by commentary on beauty, this one would be homely.  Not ugly, ugly is a 6-3 win in OT after a 3-3 tie.  Homely is a win that both teams seemed to be more interested in giving the game away than winning it, so they all played down to expectations.

If there is one thing that is guaranteed in a Tech vs Tech football game, it's surprise ambushes and last minute desperation drives that either result in a score or fade off into a useless countdown.  Last year it was a tiny Hokie lead that was eclipsed by a final defensive collapse and a field goal.  Until a fortuitous Ken Ekanum sack and a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that knocked the Yellow Jackets out of field goal range, we might be singing the same sad song of woe.

How the teams got to less than two minutes with Georgia Tech threatening to cover the 2 point lead with their ace kicker warming up is a story for the Thursday Night Follies, no the highlight reel.

The Hokies started the game in the same old passive aggressive mode that they always go with.  They won the toss and elected to give the ball to the Yellow Jackets, who promptly executed a complete surprise 4 play touchdown drive that started off with a 9 yard poorly covered run by Marcus Allen, and then a 58 yard deep seam to Ricky Jeune that pretty much dropped the Jackets too close to the end zone not to score a TD.  That was followed by a really uninspired three and out by the Hokies, and then the Jackets drove the ball far enough down the field that they succeeded in pinning the Hokies on their own 1 yard line after the drive stalled.

Tech looked like it had some life after a couple of blown plays from the end zone; Brewer hit Hodges for desperation 21 yard 1st down pass.  It looked like a Hokie drive was about to develop when Cam Phillips coughed up the ball after a 14 yard 1st down gaining gain.  That took some air out of Virginia Tech's sails; and the Jackets promptly drove the short field with an 8 play all run drive for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead right as the 1st quarter was closing out.

For the ensuing drive, Virginia Tech gained a few yards; but there was one of those odd momentum shifting plays that you don't think did anything much to be super jazzed about.  Virginia Tech's drive aborted on their own 37, but AJ Hughes walked on to the field and dropped a whopper of a punt out of bounds on the Georgia Tech 8.   The Hokies ended up getting a stop with Georgia Tech stalling out on their own 26 yard line.   Virginia Tech's Michael Brewer then engineered a 10 play 80 yard drive that resulted in a dominating touchdown.  VA Tech hadn't completely turned the game around, but there was a definite feeling that they had not only stopped the bleeding, but had gotten on the board in a big way, with a yardage and clock burning complete drive.

The Hokie defense once again got a critical stop by finally putting the screws to the Georgia Tech option after an initial gash for 16 yards.  Virginia Tech promptly went on a nearly half ending 10 play 76 yard drive that ended in a 17 yard touchdown throw to Isaiah Ford.

Georgia Tech had a little over a minute left in the half, and by the time the kick off wrapped Georgia Tech's drive ended the half on its own 15.

Well, that summary was neat and fairly easy to follow.  Georgia Tech dominated the first quarter with a mixture of ambush passes and pure option running attacks.  This is normal and expected.   That both teams were tied 14 all at the end of the first half was not surprising.

What was surprising is the completely different football game that was played by both teams in the second half.

The third quarter started out with Virginia Tech getting the ball, and then giving it away two plays later for a pick six.  Michael Brewer threw a very normal routing crossing hitch to Bucky Hodges, except Bucky didn't stop at the seam to square up at the pin for the first down pitch.  He kept running, and Brewer tossed the ball to the wrong jersey.  Suddenly after the momentum had shifted in favor of the Hokies, we were staring in the face of a seriously embarrassing touchdown scored by the shaky Yellow Jacket defense.  That would have crippled many other teams, but Virginia Tech was not in the mood to lose a game and didn't sit down and cry into its root beer.

Tech answered the GA Tech touchdown with a nine play drive that stalled out before it scored a TD, but Joey Slye managed a 3 point 29 yard FG to tighten the score to 21-17.  Then odd things started to happen to Georgia Tech.  They fumbled the ball on the next series.   The Hokies' poor situational play calling created a turnover wasting punt after three plays, but Georgia Tech did its own three and out.   Joey missed a 40 yard FG wide to the right; and a punting vs turnover dual resulted in a scoreless third quarter.

The fourth quarter looked a bit like the third in the beginning.   Georgia Tech fumbled again, Virginia Tech punted again.  Georgia Tech coughed it up again; this time on their own 18, for which Travon McMillian seemed to be the best antidote for the stalled drives.  He scored a touchdown with roughly 7:50 seconds left to play.  The ensuing PAT was missed for every bad reason in the book.  The snap was bad, the placement was ok but just a hair late, and Joey's kick sailed off the mark.  That left the score a precarious 2 point Virginia Tech advantage.  And that tiny 23-21 point lead was just enough , with enough defense and good luck (as opposed to some sloppy Virginia Tech play) kept the score from getting any closer.  Georgia Tech's final drive stalled because of a sack and a penalty that placed them in a 4th down and impossible, and also out of Field Goal range situation.  The final pass of the game sailed high over the heads of everyone, out of bounds, and the game ended without another play being run.

There are two stars to this football game.  Virginia Tech's punter, AJ Hughes is probably responsible for the most effective game turning play of the season.  His punt late in the 1st quarter, that pinned Georgia Tech into an impossible 92 yard potential drive seemed to turn Virginia Tech's momentum switch to ‘ON'.  From that time on, Virginia Tech's defense shut down the Georgia Tech option, and limited the damage caused by the ambush passes.  There were more gashes, sure, but far fewer, and the bleeding was always promptly stopped.    The other momentum builder was the solid success of running Travon McMillian.  While it is never a good idea to force yourself into a one dimensional game style, Travon has shown that he is the best candidate for feature back that we have had in while.  His 135 yards were gained at an average clip of 5.6 yards, which is more than excellent.   Between AJ's field position game, and Travon's running acumen that allowed for the possession game to be played, there is little to complain about on either score.  See the rushing stats for both teams:  Travon is the only tech player listed because he's the only runner with significant enough numbers to mention:

Team Rushing Statistics:

VA Tech Rusher

Rush

Yds

Avg

Long

TD

Travon McMillian

24

135

5.6

23

2

GA Tech Rusher

Rush

Yds

Avg

Long

TD

Marcus Allen

16

75

4.7

9

1

Justin Thomas

15

52

3.5

16

0

Isiah Willis

4

26

6.5

9

0

Unfortunately, Virginia Tech once again lived down to expectations and had serious penalty problems, from boneheaded off sides, to an accidental face mask penalty (in the old days it was at best a 5 yard incidental) to more off side calls in critical situations.  The defense just couldn't seem to maintain discipline.  It would do great for 6 or 7 plays and then have a complete collapse for the next play.   They might need to put a cardiac crash kit in the Lunch Box because this unit is great on one play and loses it on the next.  It needs size, speed and consistency.

There is one other area of inconsistency that must be addressed.  The Hokie play calling in this game was completely inscrutable.  There just didn't seem to be any rhyme reason, or rhythm to the entire plan.  The route packages were odd, and run poorly.  Brewer just missed throws, and he even missed plays. The timing between receivers and quarterback was poor, and the passing accuracy was not there.

Here are the summary numbers from Yahoo Sports:

VT

GT

First Downs

19

17

Total Yards

343

258

Turnovers

2

3

First Downs

19

17

Passes for First

7

4

Rushes for First

11

8

Penalties for First

1

5

Third Down Efficiency

6-14

5-12

Fourth Down Efficiency

0-0

0-1

Total Yards

343

258

Total Plays

68

60

Avg Gain Per Play

5.0

4.3

Net Yards Rushing

165

161

Rushes

39

47

Yards Per Rush

4.2

3.4

Net Yards Passing

178

97

Comp-Att

15-29

4-13

Yards Per Pass

6.1

7.5

Times Sacked

2

1

Yds Lost To Sacks

-18

-13

Interceptions

1

0

Punts

5

5

Punt Average

0.0

0.0

Penalties

8

3

Penalty Yards

58

26

Fumbles

1

4

Fumbles Lost

1

3

Over all we got a homely win; but it was a win, and right now, that's all that counts.

Next Saturday UNC comes to Lane Stadium for Frank Beamer's last home game and Senior Night (Afternoon?).  That is going to be the most difficult opponent that we have faced since OSU.  All bets are off though, there is no telling who will show up and play for Frank.

GO HOKIES!!!!

Source:

http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/virginia-tech-hokies-georgia-tech-yellow-jackets-201511120004/