Georgia Tech was a mere 44 seconds away from a potentially season defining victory Monday night in Blacksburg. Tevin Washington engineered a masterful 13 play, 72 yard drive that ended with a 10-yard passing touchdown to Deon Hill that appeared to be the dagger in the heart of the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Logan Thomas, heavily aided by poor tackling by Georgia Tech, quickly lead the Hokies down the field, however, and Cody Journell avenged an early miss by nailing a 41-yard field goal with no time left in regulation.
The rest is history, as Georgia Tech will begin the 2012 season in the same way they ended 2011: with a heartbreaking, gut wrenching, defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory loss.
Georgia Tech's special teams showed monumental improvement to begin the 2012 season. Not only were the Virginia Tech kick and punt returners held in check, but the Yellow Jackets also converted on their only field goal attempt (David Sully's 34 yard yarder on the first play of the fourth quarter), while Georgia Tech punter Sean Poole averaged 40 yards per punt. Georgia Tech even turned Beamer Ball around on the Hokies, as the Yellow Jackets took advantage of a botched snap that was too high for A.J. Hughes. Robert Godhigh finished off a short 24 yard drive with a shifty 12-yard run to tie the game. Overall, it was a terrific debut for David Walkosky and his special teams unit. They were extremely solid and will only get better as the season progresses.
While watching the game and thinking about this article, I was positive that Al Groh's defense was going to go under the "great" category. Then, the fourth quarter happened. In what was a heroic effort by the Georgia Tech defense through three quarters, the Yellow Jackets kept Logan Thomas in check on the ground and through the air. Then, once again, the fourth quarter happened. It took only three plays once Virginia Tech got the ball at the 9:16 mark for the Hokies to find the end zone and retake the lead, thanks to a 42-yard touchdown pass from Logan Thomas to Demitri Knowles. That was, however, not the greatest falter accredited to the Yellow Jackets defense on a night in which it turned in an otherwise incredible performance. After Georgia Tech took the lead with 44 seconds to go and then proceeded to kick a touchback, poor tackling in the secondary, especially on a 4th and 4 play with 13 seconds to go, gave the Hokies a chance to tie the game, upon which they capitalized.
Overall, I was impressed with the defense for the majority of the night. It is crucial that Georgia Tech stop its opponents big play ability going forward, though, or it could end up costing the Yellow Jackets some closely contested games.
I am a die-hard Georgia Tech fan who will root for the Yellow Jackets regardless of the opponent or situation. I do believe, however, that calling last night's offense performance "bad" is a more than suitable assessment. The Yellow Jackets failed to eclipse the 200 yard mark on the ground, despite carrying the ball 55 times. The team averaged 3.5 yards per carry Tevin Washington was Georgia Tech's leading rusher with 63 yards on 19 attempts. Granted, Virginia Tech has a great defensive line that is guaranteed to be one of the best the Jackets will face all season. Still, Georgia Tech's performance on the ground was subpar, and with the exception of the Jackets touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, there was no sustained touchdown drive for the entirety of the contest.
On a positive note, it was not Washington's performance rushing the ball that caught the eye of those watching for once. It was, instead, his 10 of 16 night passing the football, including a brilliant completion in the fourth quarter to B.J. Bostic on a play in which Washington scrambled away from pressure in order to keep Georgia Tech's hopes alive.
There is a lot of promise for this year's edition of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football, despite the fact that the Jackets will begin the ACC Coastal race with a one game handicap. Offensive improvement will come for Georgia Tech, and with a sustained defensive effort, the Jackets will still have a chance to represent the ACC Coastal in the conference championship game.
In addition, the Jackets have four very winnable games coming up in Presbyterian, Virginia, Miami, and Middle Tennessee State. Expect a much-improved offensive performance against weaker defenses for the rest of this month, and Georgia Tech will end September on a four game winning streak.