Jackets beat Georgia for the first time since 2000

After beating Florida State for the first time since the Seminoles joined the ACC, and finishing the season with a share of the Coastal Division championship, Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets capped off their regular with a victory on Nov. 29 over in-state rival Georgia in Athens, 45-42. Freshman A-back Roddy Jones and sophomore B-Back Jonathan Dwyer both surpassed the 200- and 100-yard marks, respectively. The win also snapped one of the longest streaks in the rivalry’s history, with Georgia having won the previous seven games dating back to 2001.

Jones led the Jackets with 214 total yards and two touchdowns, gaining a school-record average of 16.5 yards per run. The 214 yards set a school record for rushing yards against UGA by a Tech back. Dwyer added 144 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Georgia senior receiver Mohammed Massaquoi finished with 180 yards on 11 catches and three touchdowns.

The Jackets’ defense had their worst first half of the season, yielding 28 points to the home team. The Jackets were only able to muster 12 points in the same half. Tech’s first touchdown came on a 35-yard interception return by sophomore rover Morgan Burnett, and the second was a two-yard run by sophomore B-back Lucas Cox.

Tech’s offense did not get going until the second half of the game. Georgia kicker Blair Walsh sent the second half kickoff out of bounds to give the Jackets starting field position at their own 40. Working with a short field, Tech sophomore quarterback Josh Nesbitt scooted right and shoveled an option-pass to Dwyer, who shed two outside tackles and took the ball 60 yards to the end zone. The Jackets converted the two point try to make the score 28-20. After a three-and-out by the Dogs, the Jackets put together a 10-play, 56-yard drive that resulted in an eight-yard run by Jones, his first touchdown of the game. Another two-point conversion tied the game at 28.

The Jackets got the ball back on a fumble when senior A-back Troy Garside forced Georgia return man Richard Samuel to fumble the ensuing kickoff. Freshman A-back Marcus Wright recovered the fumble on the Georgia 23-yard line. Dwyer took the next handoff 23 yards for the go-ahead score. The touchdown put Tech up 35-28.

Tech forced yet another short drive by the Jackets when senior defensive end Michael Johnson sacked Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford on third-and-four to force a punt. The Jackets scored their next points on a field goal by Scott Blair with two minutes left in the quarter. Tech ran for over 200 yards and scored 26 points in the third quarter to take a 38-28 lead.

The Dogs struck back, however, as sophomore Running back Knowshon Moreno took a fourth-and-one play 32 yards for a touchdown. With the Dogs within three, the Jackets got a scare on their next drive. Nesbitt was knocked out of the game and made way for freshman back-up quarterback Jaybo Shaw. While Nesbitt recovered, Shaw kept the offense on the field and moved the Jackets for a first down on the next two plays. Nesbitt returned to the game and on his second play back, optioned Jones to the left and Jones scored on a 54-yard run.

The Dogs would add another score late in the fourth on Stafford’s UGA record-tying fifth TD pass, this time to freshman receiver A. J. Green.

The Jackets defense started the game very slowly. The Dogs had several plays that went for double figures and the Dogs put up the seven early. Burnett would score later in the quarter. At the start of the second, Georgia took an eight-point lead into the final 10 minutes of the half. Tech responded with a touchdown, but missed on a passing two-point conversion.

The Bulldogs took advantage of the miscue with Massaquoi catching his second touchdown pass of the day. Massaquoi caught his third touchdown play of the game later in the first half.

The win gave the Jackets only their second nine win season since 2000.