Georgia Tech fell to Virginia Tech 20-17 Saturday in Blacksburg, Va. The loss was the first on the season for the Jackets and moves their record to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the ACC.
“It was a tough, hard- fought game. I’m disappointed we didn’t come out on the right end of it. Quite honestly, I just don’t think we made enough plays when we had to,” said Head Coach Paul Johnson.
Sophomore quarterback Josh Nesbitt set a new school record for the most rushing yards for quarterback in a single game with 151 yards on 28 attempts. The record was previously held by Reggie Ball when he set the record in 2006 with 130 yards against Troy.
Nesbitt was the focal point of the Jackets offense as his rushing yards and 109 passing yards contributed 260 of the Jackets’ 387 total yards on offense. Sophomore B-back Jonathan Dwyer had his least productive game of the season, rushing for only 28 yards in 10 attempts, making it the first time he has not rushed at least 100 yards in a game this season. Sophomore running back Lucas Cox led the Jackets with 12.6 yards per carry.
Turnovers plagued the Jackets from the beginning. After starting with the ball on their own 40-yard line for the first series of the game, the Jackets drove the ball 25 yards in five plays to the Virginia Tech 35 yard-line, but Nesbitt fumbled the ball on the next play, allowing the Hokies to go four and out. The Jackets were able to mount another drive in the next series, going 56 yards in 10 plays ending with a field goal by sophomore kicker Scott Blair, giving the Jackets an early 3-0 lead.
Aside from a missed point after touchdown (PAT) in the second quarter, the special teams, which were highly questionable after the first two games, showed improvement. Every return picked up positive yardage, and the fumbles which weighed heavily on Georgia Tech during its first two games were avoided.
Virginia Tech, however, wasted no time responding to Tech’s early lead, scoring a touchdown on the next series, which consisted of 13 plays and 80 yards capped by freshman tailback Darren Evans driving eight yards into the end zone. Like the Jackets, the Hokies’ offense was very run heavy. Over 80 percent of the Hokies’ 247 offensive yards were rushing yards with Evans leading the team with 96 yards and sophomore quarterback Tyrod Taylor following closely with 87 yards. Taylor was originally supposed to be red-shirted for the season, but Head Coach Frank Beamer pulled the red shirt after the Hokies fell in an upset to Eastern Carolina in week one.
With 3:44 left in the first half, Georgia Tech scored its first touchdown and took the lead. The blocked PAT by Blair put the score at 9-7 in the Georgia Tech’s favor. The Jackets’ second fumble of the game, again by Nesbitt, came with just 1:10 left in the second quarter. The Jackets’ defense was unable to hold off the Hokies, who got the ball on the Jackets’ 43-yard line, and the Hokies were able to go into the locker room with a lead of 14-9.
Georgia Tech’s defense had a strong performance against the Hokies. Freshman linebacker Kyle Jackson and sophomore safety Morgan Burnett led the Jackets with 13 tackles apiece.
Defensive ends sophomore Derrick Morgan and senior Michael Johnson combined for the only Georgia Tech sack. The Jackets had nine tackles for losses, which set the Hokies back a total of 32 yards.
“The defense has played well in spots, but there is still room for improvement. Overall though we have played pretty well on defense,” Johnson said.
Injuries weighed on the Jackets before and during the game, as sophomore wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and sophomore linebacker Anthony Barnes along with three other Jackets did not play due to injuries.
Dwyer left the game in the third quarter with an injury, and later in the fourth quarter senior defensive tackle Vance Walker also came out. Dwyer would return, however, later in the game to try to help the Jackets make a comeback.
After Virginia Tech kicked a field goal early in the fourth quarter, the Jackets responded with a touchdown of their own. Georgia Tech decided to go for two to tie the game. Even after a false start penalty on the first attempt, the Jackets were able to convert with a pass from Nesbitt to Cox, But the Hokies came back with an 11 play, 76-yard drive to pick up a field goal and the lead, 20-17, which would become the final score of the game.
The Jackets look to rebound tomorrow against Mississippi State, whom they have not faced since 1929.
“Looking at Mississippi State, they are a physical, fast, aggressive football team.… They have weapons and will be a challenge for us so we have to continue to get better. Defensively, they are probably the best team we have played,” Johnson said.