Virginia Tech Comes from Behind to Win in Atlanta

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— hokiesports.com box score —

The Hokies overcame adversity – and themselves – to defeat Georgia Tech 23-21 in Atlanta on Thursday night. VT improved to 5-5 overall, with a 3-3 record in ACC play. The Yellow Jackets dropped to 3-7 (1-6) and are now eliminated from bowl contention.

Georgia Tech scored a touchdown easily on their opening drive, and later pulled ahead 14-0. Things weren’t looking good for the Hokies early, and though they fought back to tie the game at halftime, an interception returned for a touchdown early in the third quarter gave the Yellow Jackets a 21-14 lead.

Virginia Tech committed two turnovers, with both leading to Georgia Tech touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets turned the ball over three times, but the Hokies couldn’t turn the first two fumbles into points. They finally broke through in the fourth quarter, turning the final turnover into the go ahead touchdown.

This wasn’t an easy game, and though they might have done more damage to themselves than Georgia Tech actually did, the Hokies stayed the course. They didn’t lead the game until the 6:58 mark of the fourth quarter, and they walked out of Atlanta with the win.

Virginia Tech outgained Georgia Tech 343 to 258. That’s impressive considering the Yellow Jackets held the yardage advantage 87-1 after their first two drives of the game. It was one of VT’s most impressive performances against Paul Johnson’s offense. It marked only the third time that the Hokies have held the Yellow Jackets to under 300 yards of total offense as long as Johnson has been the coach.

Once again, Travon McMillian had a big game for the Hokies. The r-freshman had 24 carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns. His last five games have looked like this…

NC State: 11 carries, 96 yards
Miami: 16 carries, 99 yards
Duke: 29 carries, 142 yards
BC: 33 carries, 105 yards
GT: 24 carries, 135 yards
Totals: 113 carries, 577 yards, 5.1 ypc

If McMillian keeps up the pace of the last three games, he will be Virginia Tech’s first 1,000 yard rusher since David Wilson in 2011. He currently has exactly 800 yards on 145 carries for an average of 5.5 yards per carry.

Recap

Virginia Tech did not get off to an auspicious start. The Yellow Jackets went right down the field and scored a touchdown on their first drive. A busted coverage by the Hokies allowed a 58 yard pass, and Georgia Tech punched it into the end zone shortly thereafter. It took them four plays and 1:49 to go 75 yards.

After the teams traded punts, Michael Brewer found Cam Phillips over the middle on third and one for what seemed like a big gain. Phillips made several defenders miss, but the ball was knocked free, and Georgia Tech fell on it at the Virginia Tech 45. Just when the Hokies were starting to get something going offensively, they handed the ball right back to the opposition.

Georgia Tech took advantage, going 45 yards in eight plays for a touchdown. Just like that it was 14-0 Yellow Jackets with exactly one minute remaining in the first quarter. It was not a good start for the Hokies, and it’s certainly not easy to come back from a 14 point deficit on the road against a team that likes the run the ball as much as Georgia Tech.

However, that’s exactly what the Hokies did. It wasn’t easy, but they outscored the Yellow Jackets 23-7 over the final three quarters of play. After their second touchdown drive, Georgia Tech’s offensive possessions looked like this…

5 plays, 19 yards, punt
4 plays, 16 yards, punt
1 play, 2 yards, 1st half ended
5 plays, 27 yards, fumble
3 plays, 4 yards, punt
10 plays, 45 yards, fumble
1 play, -2 yards, fumble
3 plays, 4 yards, punt
9 plays, 18 yards, turnover on downs

It’s rare that the Georgia Tech offense gets dominated that badly. The Hokie offense needed to take advantage, and though it took them awhile, they were eventually able to overcome the Yellow Jackets.

Virginia Tech’s first touchdown of the game came with 5:56 left in the second quarter. Travon McMillian capped a 10-play, 80 yard drive with a two yard touchdown run off the left side. The VT offense had spent most of the first half not accomplishing much, but the Hokies trailed just 14-7.

The Hokies weren’t done. After Georgia Tech went three and out, the Hokies got the ball back on their own 24 with 3:50 remaining in the half. Travon McMillian broke off a 24 yard run on the first play of the possession, and Michael Brewer and Isaiah Ford eventually capped the drive with a beautiful back shoulder throw and catch for a touchdown that tied the game at 14. The Hokies held all the momentum heading into the second half.

Unfortunately, they gave the momentum back to the home team early in the second half. Facing third and 10 from his own 25 on VT’s first possession after half time, Michael Brewer dropped back to pass. Bucky Hodges was open on a crossing pattern, but Brewer threw it behind him and the pass was intercepted by Georgia Tech’s Bryan Mitchell. He returned it 32 yards for a Yellow Jacket touchdown to make the score 21-14.

Virginia Tech promptly responded with a 10-play, 69 yard drive that resulted in a Joey Slye 29 yard field goal. With 8:42 left in the third quarter, Georgia Tech led 21-17. At that point, things started getting outta whack, to steal a Frank Beamer term.

The Yellow Jackets fumbled on two of their next three possessions, but the VT offense was forced to punt on both occasions. Slye also missed a 40 yard field goal during that span, and the score remained 21-17 Georgia Tech as the game progressed into the fourth quarter. The Hokies were outplaying the Jackets, but they were going to leave Atlanta with a loss unless something changed quickly.

Fortunately the Tech defense came up with another big play. Georgia Tech’s Marcus Allen fumbled the football, and Dadi Nicolas came up with the recovery at the Yellow Jacket 18 yard line. This time the VT offense was finally able to come through. After a critical (and obvious) pass interference call on third and seven, Travon McMillian rumbled into the end zone from four yards out to give Tech a 23-21 lead with 6:58 left in the game.

The adventure wasn’t over however, as the snap on the ensuing extra point hit the ground, and Joey Slye missed the kick. Georgia Tech was still a field goal away from winning the game.

However, the Virginia Tech defense held on for two more drives. On the final drive of the game, Georgia Tech penetrated to the Virginia Tech 39-yard line, but was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that turned a third and five into a third and 20. Justin Thomas was then sacked by Ken Ekanem, and the final fourth and 27 prayer fell incomplete.

It was a dramatic and gutsy come-from-behind win, though the Hokies will be the first to tell you that they could have won the game by a more comfortable margin, had they operated a little more smoothly.

Virginia Tech will face North Carolina in Frank Beamer’s final home game on Saturday, November 21. The game will kick off at noon in Lane Stadium. It will be televised on one of the ESPN networks, but which one is currently TBD.

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27 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. In your comments VT “could” play better, I would have said “should” have played better; with this coaching I am thankful other teams can play worst than VT. I wish our coaches could put our players in a better position to win, they just look out coached and not prepared too many times. No one on they sideline and up in the tower seem to be in charge, Coach Beamer looks lost on what is going on, but happily the defense at the end refused to loose. At least Coach Foster is in charge of his defense. I hope that he and the new head coach can work together, if not VT needs to clean house.

  2. Did anyone else notice Cam Phillips clapping when GT scored a touchdown? What was that all about? This was right after he fumbled and received a tongue lashing from CFB.

    1. Probably trying to shake off the negative, “woe is me”, out of himself. Trying to rally himself and to get back into a game mindset. Did you also notice that when he was tackled later in a game he locked his hands like a running back and it took a few seconds for a ref to get the ball from him. Nobody was going to strip him off the ball again, at least for that night, for sure.

      1. Not really, he had a catch on the sideline and he was waving it around like a loaf of bread again. He needs to realize that trying to fight to get another yard also allows more defenders to get there and knock the ball out.

    2. I had no problem with how he handled his error. He came back strong and determined and made plays down the stretch. That shows character.

  3. The last 4 games Travon has averaged 25 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown. Project those averages over our 1st ten games and that is nearly 1200 total yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Think our record might be a little better with those stats?

  4. I cannot imagine any other three teams I would rather see us beat to send our Coach off in style…..Georgia Tech, UNC, and Virginia. I would not be at all surprised if our coaches felt the same way. /

    Go Hokies!!!

  5. VT beat a team that has a record of 3-7 by two points. Congratulations and it counts.

    Next up is UNC which has more than a good record and toyed with Duke. Hope that we are ready; it is going to be a loud crowd that wants to express our thanks to Coach Beamer in his last home game. If will be a night to remember.

    Go Hokies.

  6. He’s still needs a few more carries and we still take him out of the game way too much. I would interesting to see Travon and Edmunds in the backfield at the same time. Might keep the defense guessing on which side we were running to. I’m glad we are using him more.

    Go Hokies beat the tarheels!

    1. I thought Travon looked tired in the 4th quarter. Glad he got that many carries, but I thought he needed a breather.

      1. Agree, I still think his carries are mismanaged. and what may be worse, the sweeps to Rogers is absolutely mind blowing. he has no business trying to get to the edge, especially the SHORT side of the field. love him, but he needs to run N-S. cant wait for SL to get gone.

  7. I’m not sure what GT was looking at, but we had a glaring weakness on defense which got totally exploited in the first quarter last night, and really all night long. But after the first quarter, GT really didn’t seem interested in continuing to exploit that weakness. Even though every time they ran a play where this position had primary responsibility or should have at least been involved, they had decent success. Strange. I’ll take it, but, strange!

  8. Brewer exudes confidence and competence. It’s a shame we’ve only had him for part of the season. Even after the ugly interception last night one still had the feeling he would march us down the field and make things right. Wish we could have Brewer for a couple more years. Has there ever been a 6th or 7th year senior (not really a question)?

    1. Brewer first game against OSU was his best game, then like Logan gets progressively worst under our great coaches. He was initially decisive and quick in decision making and now he holds the play too long. He has guts, but a lot of those hits are do to his inability to make a decision, even when he should throw the ball away he is indecisive and still gets drilled.

  9. An Ugly Win is better than a Pretty Loss. It seems to me that we rarely perform well after a bye or semi-bye week. Let’s stay focused and move on to a steadier game against UNC.

    1. You are exactly, exactly, exactly right about the bye. Other marquee programs and coaches like Saban or Meyer thrive after a bye as if 3 times more work gets done and the eye test for those programs will prove it. For Tech, its like Coach told everyone to take the extra week off and we return penalty riddled, sluggish, and barely motivated to win. I know some might consider the remark “homer” talk again and I don’t want to take away or perpetuate negativity at this point in time given the victory and the end of chapter coming for a Great man but poor bye-weeks, poor in-game adjustments, and poor big game performances were always frustrating headscratchers that I hope the program sees very less of in the unforseeable future. Good luck an Godspeed to all of us.

      Meanwhile, I was at the game last night, an although I REALLY thought a larger VT crowd would show out for Coach Frank’s last time in Atlanta than what I saw, I was impressed with how loud the VT fans were in the corner of the SouthEast endzone. Kudos to that group.

      1. Correction……I don’t think I like implying “barely motivated to win” because I know our players and coaches are motivated to win but maybe a better choice of words might be barely mentally sharp, focused and prepared to win.

        1. Well I guess you just have to fire him!,, Oops! You did!! By the way it was Thursday nite! And most of us Hokies have to work. Why didn’t more of your Atlanta Hokies show up? I believe negativity is your middle name ! So I don’t want to hear a word out of you when it comes to the selection of a new coach!!

  10. Travon could be an absolute beast by the time it’s all said and done. He’s still learning how to be an RB and will only get better and better. Let’s hope he stays healthy.

    1. What Travon has done in last 5 games compared to how he was used in first five games reflects on the ability of our offensive coaches.

    2. I haven’t heard him interview or anything but after the team ran onto the field at the beginning of the game he gave CFB a big hug around the shoulders. Seems like a great guy.

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