No. 17 Virginia Tech Falls to Georgia Tech 28-22

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Virginia Tech’s offense had a chance late in the game to win, but came up just short when this fourth-down pass was broken up. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

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Atlanta, GA — Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente explained the Hokies’ 28-22 loss to Georgia Tech pretty well in his postgame press conference. Virginia Tech gave themselves chances to win, but ultimately gave themselves too many chances to lose.

“It’s a tough locker room right now man,” Fuente said. “That’s a quiet locker room. Our guys played hard. We did not play well enough to win the football game. I think there’s plenty of reasons for that that go all the way around. Ultimately, we came up a little bit short. We had our chances. The way we played both gave us chances to win the game, and also caused us to be in the situation we were in. It’s disappointing, and I feel for our guys. They’re sitting here 7-3 right now, and feel awful, but they did recover from last week. I don’t want to hear anything about, ‘They didn’t recover.’ They played their tails off. They really did.”

The Hokies offense struggled for much of the day, while the defense allowed two touchdown passes in the second half, each of those passes coming from 60 yards out or more. Georgia Tech’s offense thrived off of the big play, totaling 209 yards and 14 points in three plays. Georgia Tech had a 69-yard run that set up their first score, a field goal.

“In this game, you can give up one, maybe two explosive plays and win the football game. More than that, and it’s going to come back and bite you in the tail, and it did,” said Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

Georgia Tech’s big plays gave the Hokies chances to lose, but Virginia Tech also had opportunities to win. The Hokies took their first lead of the game midway through the final period, as Greg Stroman returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown to put Virginia Tech up 22-21 (after a missed two-point conversion).

On the ensuing kickoff, Georgia Tech recovered their own fumble. Instead of taking over with great field position, Virginia Tech allowed an 80-yard touchdown pass from TaQuon Marshall to Ricky Jeune two plays into the drive, giving the Yellow Jackets the six-point lead they held onto for the duration of the contest.

Virginia Tech football
Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall (16) led the Yellow Jackets’ offense, totaling four touchdowns. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

“When you played the way we played, and just to have a couple plays in the course of the game, but at this level, each week, when you’re playing good people, there’s a fine line and it’s usually a couple plays for you or against you, and unfortunately today they went against us,” Foster said.

Virginia Tech got another chance to win the game. The Hokies converted two fourth downs on their next drive after Georgia Tech went up 28-22, and faced a third and one from Georgia Tech’s 32-yard-line. Tech ran two pass plays, and failed to connect on either of them. The first was a fade route down the sideline to Eric Kumah, and the fourth down throw was deep to Cam Phillips, who couldn’t make the reception.

“The fade to Kumah probably could have been called pass interference,” said Josh Jackson, who finished the day 14-26 passing for 153 yards. “I mean, the guy was holding Kumah’s left arm. The second one I threw to Cam, I probably could have thrown it about a yard deeper, and it would have been a touchdown, but that happens. It is what it is, but I definitely could have given him a better ball on the second one.”

“We’ve got the best matchup we could possibly get,” Fuente said. “We’ve got press coverage with our best guys. Everything that we did was a struggle offensively. We had a couple of opportunities there to go freaking win the game, and we took those, and we didn’t come through in them, but that was the deal. Whether it was third and one, whether we make another yard or have another opportunity, those were our chances.”

Virginia Tech’s struggles on their final drive were indicative of their entire performance. The Hokies’ offense was responsible for just 16 points, and totaled just 258 yards of offense.

Virginia Tech football
It was a long day for Josh Jackson (17) and the Virginia Tech offense. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Those offensive limitations led the Hokies to get aggressive in their play-calling. Virginia Tech passed up a field goal attempt on fourth and two from the Georgia Tech eight yard line early in the second quarter and failed to pick up the first down. That led to the Hokies chasing points later in the game, and they tried two two-point conversions, both of which failed. Those five points wouldn’t have pushed the Hokies over the top, but it could have brought a field goal attempt into play on Virginia Tech’s final drive.

“We’re trying to stay on the number,” Fuente said. “I have, in my history, not done that, but I really felt like those points were precious early. That’s what we did. We were trying to get back on whatever the score was, I can’t remember, we were trying to get back on pace there. I really don’t feel like we’re going to have tons of opportunities to score. That’s just the way we’re built right now.”

Virginia Tech’s defense turned in an uneven performance. Outside of those three aforementioned plays, the Hokies allowed just 192 yards on Georgia Tech’s other 62 plays (3.09 yards per play). Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall completed just two passes, but those two passes went for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

“When you take, I think there was three plays that had about 200 yards, and that’s half their offense in three plays,” Foster said. “I thought our guys played extremely hard and fought hard and played hard, so that’s disappointing. All of those kids. I thought Timmy and Ricky, particularly those two guys, were warriors inside. I thought Andrew Motuapuaka was all over the place today, and our kids played extremely hard.”

Virginia Tech’s defense looked good on the Yellow Jackets’ first possession, but let a big run pop on the next drive. Georgia Tech’s Nathan Cottrell busted a 69-yard run to put the Yellow Jackets in scoring position, and Marshall capped off the drive with a 3-yard rush, giving Georgia Tech a 7-3 lead with 5:25 left in the first quarter. Georgia Tech struck again towards the end of the half, driving 79 yards in 11 plays and taking a 14-3 lead with 4:12 left in the second quarter on a one yard run by Marshall.

In need of momentum, Virginia Tech’s Travon McMillian returned a kickoff 70 yards, giving the Hokies terrific field position at the Georgia Tech 29. After a Georgia Tech pass interference penalty, Sean Savoy finished the effort, reversing course on a jet sweep for a 14-yard touchdown run. Tech stayed aggressive, deciding to go for the two-point conversion, but failed there as well. Virginia Tech would hold the Yellow Jackets on their final drive before the break, and went into halftime trailing 14-9.

Early in the third, Virginia Tech allowed their second big play of the day. Marshall took the play-action and found Brad Stewart open down field, adding a 60-yard touchdown to the scoreboard. Georgia Tech led 21-9 with 12:10 left in the third quarter, with the game all but out of reach.

Georgia Tech drove down the field again on their next drive, but missed a 43-yard field goal. Virginia Tech capitalized, as Jackson and backup AJ Bush engineered a 12-play, 74-yard touchdown drive that brought the Hokies within just five points. Unfortunately for the Hokies, their missed opportunities in the fourth quarter doomed them to defeat.

“Mad, upset, disappointed,” Kumah said after the game. “I feel like we should have won, and we could have won. We didn’t make the plays when we needed to, so credit to them, but we should have won that game.”

With the loss, Virginia Tech drops to 7-3 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. The Hokies can win out, including their bowl game, to get to 10 wins, but still have Pittsburgh and an improved Virginia team left on the docket. Virginia Tech’s game vs. Pittsburgh will kick off at 12:20 p.m. on Nov. 18, and the game will be televised on the ACC Network.

— hokiesports.com box score —

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40 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I don’t mean to sound obnoxious, but i’m sure I know more about gambling than everyone on this website put together. It just so happens to be that going for it on fourth down, as Coach Fuente seems to now be doing, is almost always the right play. My sometimes writing partner David Sklansky explained this in his book Getting the Best of It over 30 years ago.

    And to show that I know what I’m talking about, here’s a link to one of the books that I’ve written: https://www.twoplustwo.com/books/gambling/gambling-theory-topics/

    And here’s a link to my website: https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com

    It’s unfortunate that the fourth down plays haven’t been working, but there’s no question they’re correct, and it also shows that Coach Fuente and Coach Cornelius are head of most of their competition in this area. It also bodes we’ll for Va Tech football in the future.

    Mason Malmuth

  2. Good summary. The only addition could be the 2 GT fumbles that we appeared to have is our grasp only to lose them. Could have had a big effect at the time. The whole game was strange. We were out of sorts. GT can do that to us.

    1. Yes….definely we were out of sorts. They do that to us and everyteam almost everytime. I think the sum of this is the lack of experience the offensive coaching staff has with Coach Paul. Coach Fuente will help make Tech better long-term but Coach Beamer and Coach Scott did learn how to master managing the offensive game plan with GT. Johnson scheme is perfect……it forces you and drives you to impatient, desperate to the point you are willing to gamble and chase points. With Paul, it’s better to collect pts each possession when its given. He’s counting on the idea that you will not.

  3. Poor, poor coaching period. Poor game plan. I am not a coach or an auto mechanic, but I know when my car is running poorly or my team is coached poorly
    .

  4. “Georgia Tech had a 69-yard run that set up their first score, a field goal.”
    I was there, this didn’t happen. What did happen was much worse.

    1. I was there too, and I agree. I also agree that the coaching was horrible – especially the field goal drive we had where we had no sense of urgency, didn’t call a time out to get things set, and settled for a field goal when we were cutting through them like a hot knife through butter. Bad coaching, and it continued for the fade on 2nd and 2, the 2 point conversion try in the first half, down to the last play. Pick up the first, then take a shot. Geez.

  5. The stars were all lined up. GT was ripe for their 3rd 1 point loss. Just get one yard, 1st down, should score or get first and goal and then score, extra point wins. Guess the stars just got it wrong this time.

  6. Just finished reading the game stats… when you can only muster a whopping 105 rushing yards, you’re not likely to bring home the “W” for any game! Going for it on 4 &1 last O call is still a head scratcher with 1:09 left and 2 timeouts! However, despite the D getting torched for the 2 long TD passes (lucky it wasn’t 3!), they still kept us in the game as we still had a chance at the very end. Not taking the points on FG and PAT also falls into the head scratcher bucket given our O was struggling so much to get any points! Would have liked our chances better to kick the winning FG! I don’t see Pitt or UVA being a gimmie by any means, but hopefully the sting of this loss will motivate to win out and still potentially get to 10 wins with a bowl win! Yesterday was not CJF’s best play calling by any means, but I think he’ll get the recruiting back where it needs to be as it’s still very early in his tenure and the future will be bright! Let’s go Hokies!!!

  7. Hate to see all the negative (and juvenile) comments on the football board during the game. Like the coaches said, that last play, the home run play, was the right one and nearly worked, but it should not have come down to that. I’m not an expert, but don’t understand why the VT DBs continually let GT’s receivers get ten to fifteen yards behind them. There were two plays earlier where the GT QB overthrew his receivers, or one or two additional long TDs would have scored. What is happening, a fake, or whatever, to get the Tech DBs to “bite” or whatever is happening, to allow the receivers to blow by them. That seems to be a systemic problem of our D strategy. Could someone with better knowledge of the Xs and Os address this, as it’s shaping up to be the year where the “big plays” get us too often. A.H.

    1. Not the right play – pick up a first, then take shots. Obviously not the right play as it didn’t work and is never a high percentage play. That situation call for a high percentage play every time.

    1. Most of us know basic football and know when coaching decisions are good or bad. You don’t have to be an expert to see where this game went wrong.

  8. On the infamous third and fourth down calls QB over throws one and under throws the other. And these were our best chance to win?

  9. Two good pieces of news:
    1. We probably saved a couple of million today that we don’t have to throw at CJF ……yet and
    2. Will and CC can stop saying ” the old staff………”

    Losses happen.

  10. Like everyone else has commented about the last drive, I don’t understand why we passed on 3rd and 4th down when only a yard was needed for a 1st down, and we had timeouts left. Keep the momentum going, get the 1st down, and pass on 1st and 2nd down.

    1. Really disappointed at the tone of some of the comments on here. Sound like bandwagoners who feel they have some sort of divine right to win every game. Calling the coaches’ and players’ efforts “stupid” is over the top, and poor form in my book. Half the teams that played today lost. Buck up, you armchair QBs and coaches.

  11. Aside from the sluggish offense, the defensive back field just seemed to have forgotten how to tackle. A number of running plays by GT should have been contained to much lesser gains. It just seemed that tackling wasn’t crisp and once the running back broke into the secondary there was room to run. It seemed to me that our DBs were missing on far to many secure take down tackles. This is something that I’ve noticed in the last few games.. Perhaps some tackling drills are in order. Regarding pass protection, GT’s first offensive play of the game was a long downfield pass to Ricky Juene who was wide open but just missed what would have been a sure TD. Mook Reynolds was trailing far behind, never would have caught up to him had he made the catch. Couldn’t help thinking to myself at that moment, that GT would run that play again sometime in the game. Sure enough, GT brought it back, this time for their last score. And again, Juene was wide open going down field, made the catch and took it in for the score. And again, Mook Reynolds was out of place. Just my observations and I could be wrong. I just believe DBU or DB coaching is not what it used to be. It’s going to take several more recruiting cycles and some top tier recruits before we can realize more overall consistency on both offense and defense.

  12. I think this game is who we are as an offense. It’s hard when no one breaks a tackle and makes a big play. The 4yard game that becomes a 20+ explosion play. Against top 50 defenses this team has Cam and no one else. It’s not enough. In November you have to make a play and this team is just not there yet. Pitt is weak, but UVA has a pulse. got to find a way to go 2-0. Fight Hokies!

  13. 4th down and 1 after moving the ball, you dont go long. Time outs left , plenty of time , run the ball. Thought the play calling was rotten all day. Another mobile Q back , another loss, two more undefended passes. GT third and long, poor field position, why not expect a deep throw at that point?

    1. I cannot understand the logic of throwing long @ that stage of the game on 4th and 1 after we’ve gained momentum, have been converting on 3rd and 4th down. We’re getting close to red zone territory and are leading, if only by 1, for the first time since our first score. Maintain possession, run down the clock, if the best we can get is a FG, then at least we lead by 4 and we know what to expect on GT’s next possession. In some respects this game was eerily similar to GT’s win in 2009 when the critical play was a pass late in the first half which set up a TD to give the ‘jackets a 7-3 lead. It was the only pass they completed in the entire game that ended, 28-23.

  14. I’d like to see Fuente have the balls to say, “I made some bonehead calls and our OC let us down.” I’d like to see him have a more positive attitude. We’re too flat and calm, he needs to be more of a motivator.

  15. 100% disagree with CJF saying he needed to “get back on the number” or whatever that garbage coach speak is for going for it on fourth down in the first quarter and also going for 2. That’s idiotic. No excuse. Take the points.

    And also, yes you had a matchup on the last two plays of the game but those are LOW percentage plays. “Predicted outcomes” as coach says. Well, the outcome of those two long throws isn’t good. Especially on third/fourth and ONE. Gimme a break. O has severely digressed and playcalling is wack.

    I used to be on the JJ train being “safe” and not making bonehead plays, but he makes NO plays.

    Bring on Hooker next year.

  16. Mr. Fuente, “you and your coaching staff”, played a major role in this lost. Say what you want, but we
    fans and “YOU” know. End of story !

  17. Caption under the picture at the beginning of this article is inaccurate. That pass ended the game for VT but that pass was NOT at the end of the game.

  18. It’s been said everywhere else & anyone who watched the game can agree: Coaches lost the game. Team seem to be sleep walking thru the first half and hobbled by idiotic play calling both halves. This is the first time I’ve blamed a loss purely on coaching. Fuente needs to get it together pronto

    1. I was there and totally agreed. We should have kicked a few more field goals vs trying to convert 4th downs. Coach Frank was really good at understanding how to manage Pauls offense. Why did we call a running pooch kick after a great touchdown response instead of kicking it deep? Why give them the ball at their 40 to 45……Our defense deserves better than that. We were not ready for that stupid punt fake. We put a hobbled Travon in the game late when were behind the sticks after Jalen showed better production than Travon. And oh…what is Travon doing returning kicks…he thinks too much to be an automatic reaction returner. And the last play of the game on 4th1 with 2plus mins left does NOT have to be an all or nothing 20 to 25 yd pass to the endzone. We just needed our Very best 1yd play to secure another set of downs. He and Brad actually blew making the right calls today…..it looked eerily like the last call of the game in the ACCCG. I couldn’t believe call that play of desperation. It just wasn’t necessary yet!

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