Georgia Tech’s offense won the first quarter and Virginia Tech’s defense won the last three.
The Yellow Jackets contributed to their downfall. Guard Trey Braun’s false start and B-back Marcus Allen’s drop of a would-be first-down pass on the penultimate drive and guard Errin Joe’s unsportsmanlike penalty were killers. The Jackets were too often unable to get a body on linebacker Andrew Motupuaka, who had 12 tackles, 2.5 for loss. The three lost fumbles were obviously costly.
What Virginia Tech did well, among other things, was limit big plays. Georgia Tech has struggled to play consistently, even over the course of one series, and the Jackets couldn’t do it Thursday night. The first drive was aided by the 58-yard pass play to Ricky Jeune, the longest pass play of the season. The Jackets had a short field on their third series,when they scored their second touchdown. Every other drive started inside the Georgia Tech 40-yard line, and the Jackets weren’t capable of going that far without the aid of a chunk play, which they didn’t get. Aside from Jeune’s 58-yard pass, the Jackets’ longest play went for 16 yards.
“The mike linebacker (Motupuaka), nobody ever touched him, so he was out there on the option pretty much every play,” coach Paul Johnson said. “We tried to make an adjustment to that and then we missed the read and then it’s second-and-10 again. Right now, we’re just not very good.”
The Jackets defense did enough to win.
Freshman linebacker Brant Mitchell scored a touchdown off an interception. The defense picked up a takeaway to set up the second touchdown and held the Hokies to 6-for-15 on third down. When the Hokies got in the red zone in the third quarter, the Jackets held them to a field goal.
The Hokies aren’t world beaters – they are 103rd in the country in yards per play – but it was still a level of defensive play I wasn’t sure the Jackets could attain without defensive tackles Adam Gotsis and Jabari Hunt and linebacker P.J. Davis in the second half.
“I thought they gave us a chance in the second half,” Johnson said. “They went out and got some stops and made some plays. That was encouraging.”
In the end, though, it mattered not.
What else is left to say?
A bowl game, barring getting in through the back door as a 5-7 place filler (which would require two more wins), is out of the question. The Jackets are bound for their first losing regular season since 1996.
The Jackets give effort and can put themselves in position to win. They just find ways to lose.
“We bring the effort each and every game,” safety Demond Smith said. “We just can’t put it all together now.”