No. 11 Georgia Tech Runs to Victory Over the Cavaliers
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) –Georgia Tech ran around in the pouring rain. They also ran over, under and through the Virginia defense, breaking tackles and burning up the clock.
The No. 11 Yellow Jackets dispatched the last team with an unbeaten record in Atlantic Coast Conference play Saturday, rushing for 362 yards and taking charge of the Coastal Division with a 34-9 win over the Cavaliers.
Josh Nesbitt ran for 82 yards and threw for 85, but he attempted only two passes in Georgia Tech’s four touchdown drives: a 10-play, 60-yard march in the second quarter; a game-draining 18-play, 82-yard marathon that took up the first 10:47 of the third quarter; an 11-play, 66-yard put-the-game away possession in the fourth; and a didn’t-really-matter 10-play, 71-yard drive near the very end.
Georgia Tech (7-1, 5-1) broke an eight-game Charlottesville losing streak, winning at Virginia for the first time since 1990, the year the Yellow Jackets claimed a share of the national title. The Cavaliers (3-4, 2-1) had a three-game winning streak snapped, a run that followed an 0-3 start that had fans calling for coach Al Groh’s job.
The Yellow Jackets entered the game second in the nation with an average of 286.1 yards rushing, and the option churned out even more against the Cavaliers. Penalties and bobbled balls stymied the offense in the early going, but Nesbitt, Jonathan Dwyer (125 yards) and Anthony Allen (103) ultimately proved too quick and too strong for Virginia’s defense.
Nesbitt and Allen each had a 1-yard touchdown run, Allen also scored on a 20-yard scamper and Nesbitt on a 2-yard run, and Scott Blair kicked two field goals for the Yellow Jackets.
Virginia’s scoring came on three field goals from Robert Randolph. The Cavaliers failed to make the most of excellent field position in the first half, setting for three points instead of seven on back-to-back drives that began in Georgia Tech territory.
The wet day made for messy football. Georgia Tech had three penalties and had burned two timeouts before the game was seven minutes old. The Yellow Jackets also fumbled three times in the first quarter: a muffed punt they were lucky to recover, a dropped snap to the upback that doomed a fake punt attempt, and a no-one-touched-him bobble by Nesbitt that was recovered by the Cavaliers.
The failed fake punt and the Nesbitt fumble gave the Cavaliers the great field position on back-to-back drives, but they could only convert them into field goals.
A holding penalty killed the first drive, which ended in Randolph’s career-long 49-yard field goal in a downpour – the ball hit the curved part of the goalpost support as it went through. The next drive stalled after the Cavaliers had first-and-goal at the 2, forcing them to settle for a 19-yarder from Randolph.
Georgia Tech capitalized on muffed punt for its first score, a 24-yard field goal by Blair, and an out-of-bounds kickoff gave the Yellow Jackets good field position to start the only touchdown drive of the first half. The used 10 plays – all runs – to go 60 yards, with Nesbitt’s 1-yard run putting Georgia Tech ahead 10-6.
The Yellow Jackets dusted off the passing game with a 52-yard pass from Nesbitt to Demaryius Thomas to set up a 24-yard field goal on the final play of the half, giving Georgia Tech a 13-6 lead at the break.