Tech falls to Iowa at Orange Bowl

Tech’s football team fell to Iowa in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 5, 24-14 in Miami. The loss ends the Jackets season at 11-3, with two of the losses coming in the last three games. The Jackets now have a 3-3 all time record in the Orange Bowl, with the last win coming in 1952. This loss also marked Tech’s first appearance in a Bowl Championship Series game, since the system was introduced in the 1998 season.

“We just never had any consistency on offense…. It is hard to get consistency when we were not on the field that much. We could not string together first downs [in the first half],” said Head Coach Paul Johnson.

The Jackets were stagnant on offense during the first half, only picking up one first down, and 32 yards. Of the 20 plays ran by the offense, 13 of them were rushes by junior quarterback Josh Nesbitt. The A-backs only received two attempts in the first 30 minutes.

“We had a hard time blocking them on the inside, and it made it tough to run on the perimeter. And we could never hit a big play on the passing game,” Johnson said.

Only two passing attempts were completed in the game out of the nine attempted. Both of completions went to junior B-back Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer also had 14 attempts on the ground tonight for 49 net yards.

“We were just shooting ourselves in the foot. We were just having penalty after penalty after penalty. Mistakes after mistakes after mistakes. If you have those, there is no way you will have the opportunity to have a big play,” Dwyer said.

The Jackets had nine total penalties on the night, setting Tech back 68 yards. But the Jackets hung close with the Hawkeyes at one point reducing the difference to a three-point margin, until the end if the game when the mistakes began to catch up to the Jackets.

After the Jackets picked up their first offensive touchdown of the night with 12:30 to play, putting the score at 17-14, the defense forced the Hawkeyes to punt on the next series. Kick returner Jerrard Tarrant attempted to return an Iowa punt from the Jacket’s four-yard line, but only managed to get it to the 10-yard line. On the first play of the offensive series for the Jackets, Nesbitt threw an interception.

But again the defense stepped up, a stopped Iowa on a fake field goal. On the first play of the next drive, Dwyer tried reverse back to the side, but was initially met by Iowa defenders in the end zone. Though the B-back was able to avoid the safety, it put the Jackets on their own one-yard, effectively ending the drive for Tech.

Tarrant’s highlight of the night came during the first half when forced a fumble during the first series against the Hawkeyes and recovered it for the Jackets. Later in the half, had had an interception returned for a touchdown, putting the Jackets on the board, 7-14.

Iowa would score on the next series to close out the season for the Jackets.

With the many of Tech’s top players eyeing jumps to the NFL draft, the Orange Bowl could mark the end of the careers of several players at Tech including Dwyer, junior wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and junior defensive end Derrick Morgan.