With 1:11 left on the clock in the game on a chilly Fall night at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Yellow Jackets fans were ecstatic.
Cheers rang through midtown Atlanta as Jamal Golden intercepted Miami’s Brad Kaaya in their last ditch effort, down by 11. The Canes never had a chance this time.
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Georgia Tech possessed the ball for 40:45 — yes, that was not a typo! Over 40 minutes, a 21+ minute advantage, which is almost unheard of these days in college football.
Chances are, any football team in the country down that much in time of possession against Georgia Tech would have almost a 0% chance of winning, especially with no turnovers by the Jackets. Oh by the way, there were ZERO turnovers for Tech.
For over a week we heard how Miami’s speed would once again “dominate” the Jackets and slow down Justin Thomas. We constantly heard about the 5-game winning streak in the series, and we heard about how Georgia Tech struggled in their previous four games to start this season.
What you obviously didn’t hear from Canes fans was how close some of these recent losses to Miami were, and the fashion in which the games were lost. Because that’s the bottom line, the games were lost by Tech more than won by Miami.
Turnovers have plagued the Jackets recently in this series, most especially the past three seasons.
The loss in 2010 was delivered to a Jackets team missing star QB Josh Nesbitt. Not only that, but dreadful defensive play has doomed the Jackets against Miami recently as well, and that was emphatically addressed Saturday night on the flats.
Possess the ball, don’t turn the ball over, get a few defensive stops, and make key plays and reads at QB when it counts. That’s the Paul Johnson formula for success. It’s always been!
This team did just that Saturday, and put a big exclamation point on the end of the frustrating drought against Miami. Justin Thomas continued to run the offense masterfully, and Senior B-back Zach Laskey ran for 133 yard on 29 carries with 4.6 yard per carry.
Oct 4, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets safety Isaiah Johnson (1) celebrates a victory against the Miami Hurricanes at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia Tech defeated Miami 28-17. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
The first half was somewhat tight, as Duke Johnson looked solid, which you would’ve expected him to.
He finished the game with 100 yards rushing on 14 carries, but that total is considerably lower than his last outing against the Jackets where he amassed 184 yards.
The problem for Miami was, when Georgia Tech holds on to the ball and plays keep away while also putting points on the board, you can’t rely on the running back to get you back in the game when you finally get the chance to drive and score.
That’s when the pressure began to be dialed up on the freshman QB Kaaya.
In the 4th quarter, Kaaya was sacked twice. Once by Paul Davis, the hero with the pick-six against the Hokies two weeks ago, and another by Keshun Freeman with 1:42 to play.
Then came the aforementioned interception in the endzone to end the game by Golden.
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY had the Jackets pegged for 5-0 this season.
Are there areas that still need improvement for Tech heading into another important game in the Coastal division against Duke on Saturday? Absolutely.
But right now after entering this week’s AP Poll at #22 (#23 Coaches), one thing is for sure. Georgia Tech has earned the respect of not only the ACC, but the rest of the nation as well.
This football team seems to get better and better each week. Maybe having the three non-conference games to start the season for games 1, 2, and 3 was the best thing for the team this season to find its young footing.
Maybe the defense has finally taken that critical step forward and can now compliment the potent spread option attack. Maybe, just maybe, the Yellow Jackets have only just begun their march forward in what looks to be a very special season.