ATHENS — Georgia’s defense had Georgia Tech in the perfect position.
The Yellow Jackets were stuck staring at a 13-point deficit and 96 yards from the end zone.
There was only 9:51 left to play in the game.
But any momentum the Bulldogs carried from a dominating defensive third quarter quickly vanished. The Yellow Jackets controlled the game from that point to take a 28-27 victory on Saturday.
“They finished in the fourth quarter,” linebacker Davin Bellamy said. “I can’t take credit away from them talking about something we didn’t do.”
The fourth-quarter collapse was sudden and unexpected.
Georgia stifled the Yellow Jackets in the third quarter, holding them to 21 yards and one first down on 10 plays.
The Bulldogs then stopped Georgia Tech on a fourth-down play on the first drive in the fourth.
“I think we were just not executing and we let the Georgia defense get the best of us,” really,” Georgia Tech running back Clinton Lynch said.
The Yellow Jackets erased that 94-yard hole with a seven-play drive that cut the lead to 27-21.
They then marched 46 more yards to score the winning touchdown with 30 seconds left.
“They did a good job of blocking our guys,” coach Kirby Smart said. “They hit some passes to loosen us up and make us play more cautious. They ran it when they had to and they scored touchdowns in the red area.”
Georgia Tech ran 23 plays for 168 yards and held the ball for nearly 10 minutes of the fourth quarter.
Of the Yellow Jackets’ 226 yards rushing, 90 came in the fourth quarter. Eight of their 15 first downs came in the final quarter.
“It’s the triple option. That’s what they do,” linebacker Lorenzo Carter said. “They try to get your eyes off where they should be and they just made plays. We had to stop it, but we didn’t.”
Even on Georgia Tech’s game-winning touchdown, Georgia diagnosed the play — an intended throwback to quarterback Justin Thomas — but running back Qua Searcy cut the run back and launched himself the final 4 yards for the score.
“We just didn’t close it out,” Bellamy said. “They dug deeper in the fourth and pulled out the win.”