If you look at the stat sheet, you would think that Georgia Tech (3-2, 2-2 ACC) had come out on top of their game with Miami (5-0, 1-0 ACC). The Yellow Jackets rushed for more yards, had fewer turnovers, won the time of possession battle, and had fewer penalties for much less yardage. Everything pretty much looks like the box score for a Georgia Tech win.
Everything except that minor detail of the 45-30 score in Miami’s favor.
Even from the start of the game, when the Jackets opened up a 17-7 lead on Miami and completely hushed he sparse (about 60% capacity) crowd at Sun Life Stadium, it looked like it was just going to be Tech’s day.
That didn’t last long.
The Hurricanes outscored the Yellow Jackets 38-6 over one stretch, and ‘Canes quarterback Stephen Morris (17/22, 324 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT) simply picked apart the Georgia Tech secondary. Miami running back Duke Johnson finished with 325 all-purpose yards, and was a thorn in the side of the Jackets all day.
This was the first time the Jackets’ defensive backs had faced a quarterback the caliber of Morris, and it showed. Breakdowns in coverage led to three separate pass plays of over 40 yards (two of them for touchdowns), and two others of over 25 yards. The big plays–including a 30-yard pick-six of a Justin Thomas pass by Hurricanes’ CB Ladarius Gunter–were what sunk the Jackets in the end.
Georgia Tech has a 34-4 record under Paul Johnson when they score more than 28 points, and two of those four losses have come in against the Hurricanes in the past two seasons.
Beyond the the fifth straight loss to the Hurricanes, and the second straight year of losing a double-digit lead to the ‘Canes, the defeat in Miami presents another problem for Paul Johnson’s squad – how do they possibly get back to the ACC Championship game now?
The Yellow Jackets sit at 2-2 in ACC play, but their two losses–Virginia Tech and Miami–are to teams who sit in the same division with them and are currently undefeated in conference play. Georgia Tech isn’t mathematically eliminated…not yet…but the path to the championship game is going to take a combination of the Jackets running the table, and a lot of help from other teams.
Behind the 8-ball? More like behind the entire rack.
Things don’t get any easier for the Jackets now, as they travel to Provo, Utah to take on the BYU Cougars, followed by a trip back to the east coast to welcome the Syracuse Orange to Bobby Dodd Stadium – all this in the midst of a grueling schedule of eight straight games without an open date.