Georgia Tech Football: Jackets fall to The Citadel in OT 27-24

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 9: The Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets leads the team on to the field before the game against Jacksonville State Gamecocks on September 9, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 9: The Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets leads the team on to the field before the game against Jacksonville State Gamecocks on September 9, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Georgia Tech’s offense sputtered again while the defense struggled to stop the triple-option in their 27-24 loss to The Citadel on Saturday.

Prior to Saturday afternoon, Georgia Tech had never lost a game to an FCS opponent. That all changed on Saturday when The Citadel came to The Flats. The Jackets offense once again struggled to find an identity and the Jackets defense just couldn’t hold on against a scrappy and gritty Citadel triple-option offense.

The game started out looking like the Jackets were finally going to open up their offense but that was not the case. In the Jackets first series, Lucas Johnson hit Malachi Carter with a nice back-shoulder throw. The Jackets would complete just six passing attempts following that as they completed 7-of-13 passing attempts for 118-yards on Saturday including one for a touchdown.

Following that completion, it would become an early first quarter and first half for the Georgia Tech offense. The first score of the game on Saturday would come from The Citadel, as a nice play-action pass from quarterback Brandon Rainey fooled everyone and The Citadel would take an early 7-0 lead. It was the only pass completed on the day for The Citadel.

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Overall, The Citadel on Saturday was able to run the option effectively on the Jackets especially in the pitch game where they gouged the Jackets defense in yardage. It was not all bad however in the first half as linebacker David Curry played a huge role in trying to slow down the Citadel attack even a little bit. He had a beautiful interception in the first half where he read the quarterback perfectly and made a catch on a ball that was tailored for him.

The Jackets lone touchdown of the first half came on a four-yard Jordan Mason touchdown, however, Wesley Wells who had never missed a kick before this week, missed the extra point. He was not seen again on Saturday. The Citadel would score one more time before halftime, giving them a two-score lead heading into the break. The first half would end with the Yellow Jackets trailing 13-6.

The second half would have to be half of the adjustments and it didn’t start great taking a timeout before the first snap. For Georgia Tech, it seemed the offense was in a constant state of confusion on motions and maybe even beyond that. Nobody ever got on the same page and it was evident for the most part. They’ll need to clean that up fast if they hope to have a chance against Geoff Collins’ former program next week, the Temple Owls.

Jalen Camp would make his presence known in the third quarter when he and Lucas Johnson connected for a 33-yard touchdown pass following a bad punt by Citadel. The 2pt conversion would tie the game at 14. Giving the Jackets some new hope but that hope wouldn’t answer long. Over the course of the next several minutes, the  Citadel would answer that drive with a big drive of their own from QB Brendan Rainey who ran for a 20-yard score to put Citadel back in front. Rainey was a problem for the Jackets defense the entire game until leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.

The Jackets suffered several injuries of their own on Saturday including a critical loss when Lineman Jahaziel Lee was carted off with a lower-body injury. Both teams would wish Lee luck as he was carted off the field but it certainly did not look good for the senior two-way player.

The fourth quarter would have to be a big one for the Yellow Jackets but it just didn’t seem to be in the cards. They would catch a break early on in the fourth when Citadel quarterback Brandon Rainey left the game with a left leg injury. Luckily for The Citadel, they would only have one drive in the fourth quarter but it was a long one and a strong one, as they drove down the field and kicked a field goal to make it a 24-21 game.

When the Jackets got the ball back after the field goal that put The Citadel up 24-21, they were able to get a huge return out of Tobias Oliver, getting into Tech territory, setting up a potentially game-winning drive.

The most controversial moment of the game would come just a little over a minute late. It’s a moment that will be talked about for the remainder of the season and possibly beyond, happened in the final 15 seconds of regulation. As time was rounding down, Tobias Oliver, in at quarterback was able to take a classic option play and take it all the way to the house for the would-be game-winning touchdown. The issue? Geoff Collins had called a timeout right before the ball was snapped and the refs didn’t blow the whistle in time. The touchdown would be wiped off the board and Brenton King would send the Jackets to overtime with a 34-yard field goal a few seconds later.

In overtime, Brenton King would get a chance to give the Jackets a 27-24 lead but would miss the 46-yard attempt. On The Citadel’s next drive, they easily set up kicker Jakob Godek who hit a 37-yarder to win the game. It was a disappointing ending to a disappointing afternoon and performance from the Yellow Jackets.