ATHENS — Never count out Georgia Tech when it’s playing between the hedges. That would seem to be the lesson as the Yellow Jackets came from behind in the fourth quarter to record the third victory in Athens in the Paul Johnson era. This time they scored a touchdown with 30 seconds to play for a 28-27 win.
Georgia Tech tied it at 27-27 when A-Back Qua Searcy ran it in from the 6 with with what began as a pass play. Searcy left the ground on a dive just barely inside the 4. Georgia nemesis/kicker Harrison Butker added the point as fans chanted “block that kick” with a shot that evenly split the uprights for the one-point margin of victory.
The victory was Tech’s second in the past three years and second in a row at Sanford Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets ended up with the football after Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason threw an interception with 3:39 to play. The Bulldogs faced second-and-eight at their own 40 and were just coming out of a timeout when Eason’s pass, thrown high and behind Terry Godwin, was intercepted by Tech’s Lance Austin at the Georgia 46-yard line.
Georgia Tech ends the season at 8-4 while the Bulldogs fall to 7-5 in their first regular season under rookie head coach Kirby Smart.
Tech won in overtime in its last trip between the hedges. Both teams will await invitations from second-tier bowls, which won’t be decided until after next weekend’s conference championship games.
Here’s some more about the game:
- Georgia’s stars of game: Georgia’s Sony Michel (170) and Nick Chubb combined for 258 yards rushing and two touchdowns. It was a career high for Michel. Chubb’s 88 allowed him to move past Garrison Hearst and into third place on UGA’s all-time rushing list with 3,282 yards. He was just four yards from catching Todd Gurley. Herschel Walker’s school and SEC record — also achieved in three seasons — remains quite safe. He had 5,259 yards.
- Turning point: Eason threw high and behind Terry Godwin on second-and-eight at Georgia’s own 40 with 3:39 to play. His pass deflected off Godwin’s hand and was intercepted by Tech’s Lance Austin well behind the play. Previous to that, the Yellow Jackets went 94 yards in seven plays to get within 27-21 with 6:28 to go.
- Questions answered: Starting inside linebacker Natrez Patrick did not play for the third consecutive game. Patrick suffered a shoulder injury early in the Kentucky game and has not played since. …. William Ham handled kickoffs for the Bulldogs.
- Questions looming: The Bulldogs will have to await the NFL decisions of several underclassmen, including tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and outside linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy. Coach Kirby Smart said he and the UGA staff will confer with the players and gather as much draft intelligence from NFL teams to help the players make informed decisions.
- Statistically speaking: Georgia junior safety Dominick Sanders had an interception and fumble recovery to headline a defensive effort that saw the Bulldogs make some significant first-quarter adjustments to slow down the Yellow Jackets’ option attack. Tech rushed for just 49 yards on 17 carries in the second and third quarters after having seven for 87 in the first quarter alone.
- What it means: It certainly makes Georgia Tech’s season and gives the Yellow Jackets some off-season recruiting momentum. For Georgia it may ultimately cost them a spot in the SEC’s pool of six bowl distribution model.