EditorsNote: Re-sending per client request
Georgia Tech upsets No. 17 Virginia Tech
ATLANTA — The Georgia Tech passing attack has not been good all season, ranking next-to-last in the nation. It was not good on Saturday, but it was good enough at the right times to make a difference.
Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall completed only two passes, but both went for touchdowns, and the Yellow Jackets upset No. 17 Virginia Tech 28-22 on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
“He made what? Two completions,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “And they were both for touchdowns and it ended up being 140 yards? So, we’ll live with that. That’s a pretty good average.”
The winning score came with 6:30 remaining when Marshall connected with Ricky Jeune for 80 yards. Jeune dove in and clipped the pylon. The touchdown was confirmed on review.
“I have confidence in my arm at all times, but it’s very frustrating to me when I overthrow someone or miss a pass that probably should be completed,” Marshall said. “Having two completions for two touchdowns is great.”
Cornerback Greg Stroman had put the Hokies ahead 22-21 when he intercepted Marshall’s sideline pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown with 7:27 remaining.
Virginia Tech had one last chance, starting at its 26 with 6:21 left. The Hokies drove to the 32 but failed on fourth-and-1 when reserve cornerback Ajani Kerr — playing after veteran Step Durham suffered a late injury — knocked away Josh Jackson’s pass into the end zone that was intended for Cam Phillips.
“We got the best matchup we could possibly get,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “Everything we did offensively was a struggle and we had a couple of opportunities to go win the game. We did not come through on them, but that was the deal.”
Georgia Tech (5-4, 4-3 ACC) was led offensively by KirVonte Benson with 86 yards on 22 carries. Marshall completed 2 of 8 for 140 yards and was intercepted once. Marshall rushed 22 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns.
Virginia Tech (7-3, 3-3) got 153 yards passing from Jackson, who completed 14 of 26. Eric Kumah caught six passes for 82 yards.
Virginia Tech drove to the Georgia Tech 23 on its first possession but had to settle for Joey Slye’s 41-yard field goal.
Georgia Tech answered with a touchdown, an 80-play drive sparked by Nate Cottrell’s career-long 69-yard run. Marshall scored on a 3-yard run to give Georgia Tech a 7-3 lead.
The Yellow Jackets scored again on a 79-yard drive that included a fake punt. Defensive end KeShun Freeman, in the game as a blocking back, took the direct snap and ran 3 yards for a first down. Seven plays later Marshall dove off left guard for a 1-yard touchdown.
Virginia Tech immediately answered with its first touchdown. Travon McMillian returned the kickoff 71 yards, the best of his career, to put the ball at the Georgia Tech 29. After a pass interference penalty, the Hokies scored on a 14-yard run by freshman Sean Savoy, who ranged far to the right, reversed his field and outran the Georgia Tech defenders to the end zone. The two-point conversion pass failed, leaving Georgia Tech with a 14-9 lead that remained until halftime.
Georgia Tech went up 21-9 when Marshall found receiver Brad Stewart open on a post pattern for a 60-yard touchdown, the first of Stewart’s career, on a third-and-18 situation.
“To give it up on third down was rough,” Fuente said, “I think our defense is the strength of our team and they have played admirably. We have not given up many of those. We have been in the right place, but we were caught in poor leverage and they made us pay.”
The Yellow Jackets were poised to extend the lead when a penalty for a chop block stalled their drive and forced them to settle for a 43-yard field goal attempt, which Brenton King missed wide right.
The Hokies took advantage of the miss with a 12-play, 74-yard drive capped by Jalen Holston’s 8-yard touchdown run that ended the third quarter and narrowed the lead to 21-16.
“It’s disappointing,” Kumah said. “It’s disappointing. I felt like we should have won. We just didn’t make the plays we needed to.”
NOTES: Georgia Tech got two defensive starters back from injury. LB Brant Mitchell and FS A.J. Gray both missed last week’s game against Virginia. Starting LT Jahaziel Lee missed the game with a lower body injury. ... Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds was chosen to wear the special No. 25 jersey that honors former coach Frank Beamer. ... When Georgia Tech LB Victor Alexander came up with sack in the third quarter, it ended a three-game sack-less streak. ... Georgia Tech has allowed seven kickoff returns or 38 yards or longer. ... Virginia Tech had four players out with injuries: WR C.J. Carroll, CB Adonis Alexander, RB Steven Peoples and OT Yosuah Nijman. ... Up next: Georgia Tech is on the road at Duke on Saturday. Virginia Tech plays its final home game on Saturday against Pitt.