No. 16 Georgia Tech fends off No. 9 Georgia 30-24 in overtime

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In a game filled with wild swings of momentum, costly fumbles and blocked kicks, No. 16 Georgia Tech held off No. 9 Georgia 30-24 in overtime, giving the Yellow Jackets their first win in this heated series since 2008.

We’ll start in the first half, where Georgia moved the ball to within the doorstep of Georgia Tech’s goal line three times, but fumbled the ball away twice, settling for a 7-7 tie. The first fumble came right at the 1-yard line, as Nick Chubb lost the ball while heading in for a score that would have given the Dogs a 14-0 lead. Sony Michel then compounded the mistake with a fumble of his own, this time on a 13-yard dash after the ball was popped out by Georgia Tech’s Quayshawn Nealy and recovered by Isaiah Johnson in the end zone.

Georgia Tech controlled most of the second half, but committed two charitable acts of its own, both by quarterback Justin Thomas. The first came in the third quarter with the Yellow Jackets threatening to take a 14-7 lead; Thomas was piled up at the goal line and the play kept going and going and going and eventually Georgia’s Damian Swann ripped the ball from his hands and raced 99 yards for a touchdown. Watching the play on replay, Thomas’ forward progress was stopped for more than four seconds – an eternity in that situation – but the officials’ collective whistles were swallowed in their small intestines.

Georgia Tech stormed back to take a 21-17 lead on two Zack Laskey runs – the Ramblin’ Wreck ran for 280 yards in the second half alone – and appeared to have the game salted away after hopping on a kickoff at the Georgia 27 with 4:22 to go. But after rushing for a first down, Paul Johnson got cute. Georgia Tech pounded Georgia up the middle continuously in the second half, but he called for Thomas to take the ball around the end on a second-and-nine, which lost three yards, and then on a third-and-12, where he lost his second fumble of the half, this time on a play where he pump-faked but lost control of the ball.

Georgia recovered and marched down to score a go-ahead touchdown on a three-yard pass from Hutson Mason to Malcolm Mitchell with 18 seconds left, but the Bulldogs left juuuust enough time for Harrison Butker to knock in a 53-yard field goal as time expired to send the game to overtime. (Adding salt to the wound? Mark Richt called an ice-the-kicker timeout on a play where it appeared Georgia Tech wouldn’t have gotten the snap off in time.)

Georgia Tech opened overtime by rushing five times – four by Laskey – for a touchdown, but the ensuing extra point was blocked, Georgia’s second blocked kick of the day.

Now with a second chance to win the game with a touchdown and extra point, Georgia moved the ball to the Georgia Tech nine, but Mason was intercepted by D.J. White, sealing the win for the Yellow Jackets.

Chubb rushed 25 times for 129 yards and a touchdown and Mason threw for 194 yards, but Georgia couldn’t handle Georgia Tech’s onslaught running game. The Yellow Jackets pounded and pounded and pounded the Dogs to the tune of 70 carries for 399 yards and three touchdowns. Laskey was the star, rushing 26 times for 140 yards and three touchdowns.

Georgia Tech has beaten Georgia five times since 1991 – and four of those wins have come in Athens.

Georgia Tech improves to 10-2 on the season, and will prepare for No. 3 Florida State in the ACC championship. Georgia, meanwhile, has a month to reconcile a terrible 24-hour period; yesterday’s Missouri win knocked the Bulldogs out of the SEC championship, and today’s loss drops them to 9-3, costing them any shot at a New Year’s Six bowl.

Middle Tennessee State brings back ex-Blue Raiders RB Shane Tucker as grad assistant

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There will be a very familiar face in the Middle Tennessee State football building when the Conference USA school reconvenes.

Memorial Day, Middle Tennessee State announced that Shane Tucker has been added to the extended football staff.  Specifically, Tucker will serve as a graduate assistant for Rick Stockstill.  Tucker will work on the offensive side of the ball for the Blue Raiders.

From 2013-2017, Tucker was a running back at MTSU.  And a wide receiver as well.

In 39 appearances, Tucker started 17 of those games.  He started contests in 2013 (three), 2014 (two), 2015 (four) and 2017 (eight).  The Memphis native’s 2016 season ended before it started because of an offseason injury.

During his time in Murfreesboro, Tucker ran for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns on 271 carries.  He also caught 67 passed for 869 yards and another seven touchdowns.

In 2014, Tucker earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.  As a fifth-year senior in 2017, he was named a permanent captain.

Middle Tennessee State is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  That was the program’s worst record since going 2-10 in 2011.  MTSU also saw its school-record streak of bowl appearances end at four in a row.

One of the players Tucker Will Likely work with?  Martell Pettaway.  The West Virginia running back transferred to the Conference USA school in January.

Ex-Georgia State RB Gerald Howse, 28, found dead in his home

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Georgia State is mourning the loss of a member of its football family.

Sunday, Georgia State announced the passing of former Panther football player Gerald Howse.  Howse was just 28.

According to one report, Howse was found dead at his home in Cookeville, Tenn.  A cause of death has not yet been released.

From GSU’s release:

Howse, from Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Siegel High School, lettered at running back for the Panthers in 2013-14 after transferring from NE Oklahoma A&M.

After graduating with his degree in sociology, he entered the coaching profession, beginning with stints at Oklahoma Baptist (2015) and NE Oklahoma A&M (2016-19). He was honored as the NJCAA Top Assistant Coach in 2017.

In January of 2020, Howse was named as the running backs coach at Tennessee Tech of the FCS.  The football program’s head coach, Dewayne Alexander, released a statement addressing his assistant’s passing as well.

Gerald was a first-class young man. He was highly thought of by so many people. His coaches at Siegel High School – Greg Wyatt and David Watson – always brought him up whenever we had positions come open. He displayed a very positive attitude. He was a man of character who lived out faith, family and football. He was so close to his family – his mom, dad and sister – that it was one of the biggest reasons he came here to Tennessee Tech: coach in the area, be back in Middle Tennessee and be close to his family. He was an outstanding coach and a man every coach would want on his staff. Gerald made a huge impact on our players in the short time he was here. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, as well as the Tennessee Tech football family. Anytime you lose a staff member, it affects a lot of people.

Pac-12 targets June 15 for return of players for voluntary in-person workouts

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The Pac-12 is the latest to contribute to the measured return of college football.

Last week, the NCAA announced that it would allow schools to bring its student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1. Friday, the SEC announced that it will allow players to return starting June 8.  That same day, the Big 12 announced its target date is June 15.

Monday, the Pac-12 followed the Big 12’s lead, with that Power Five confirming a return date of June 15 for voluntary in-person athletic workouts. The league came to its decision to allow student-athletes to return to campus following a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group earlier in the day.

The conference also made sure to note in its release that the universities will “determine whether and how to open its sporting facilities in accordance with relevant county and state guidelines.”

“As educational institutions, our highest obligation is to the health and welfare of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano in a statement. “As we considered the pros and cons of taking steps that can pave a path to returning to play, those considerations were foremost, guided by the advice of our own medical experts along with public health officials.”

“The Pac-12 is committed to the well-being of our student-athletes, and the decision to allow for voluntary workouts, subject to a determination by each school, is guided by the advice of our medical experts and will be supported by the detailed protocols established by our medical advisory committee in concert with our campus’ own safety guidelines,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “As states have either already opened or begin to open up access to parks, gyms and other training facilities, student-athletes should have the option at this time to be in, what for many, will be a much safer environment on campus, where they can have access to the best available health, well-being and training support.”

The ACC and Big Ten are the only Power Fives to not announce a uniform plan for a return.  Both Ohio State and Illinois, though, will allow players to return June 8, for example.  Ditto for Clemson and Louisville as well.

Arizona’s leader in receiving yards underwent surgery on a fractured foot earlier this month

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A key piece of the passing game for Arizona football is recovering from a health issue.  Fortunately, it doesn’t appear it will impact his availability for the upcoming season.

Prior to Arizona shuttering spring football practice because of the coronavirus pandemic, Jamarye Joiner suffered a fractured left foot.  It was reported at the time that the wide receiver was “believed to have suffered a Jones fracture, which is a break between the base of the foot and the fifth metatarsal.”

According to The Athletic, Joiner underwent surgery to repair the damage May 12.  The procedure was delayed as elective surgeries were scuttled because of the pandemic.

The same website reported that the receiver will be sidelined for a period of 6-12 weeks.  Such a timeline would extend, at the long end, to early August.  Arizona is scheduled to open the 2020 football season Aug. 29 against Hawaii.

Joiner was a three-star member of the Arizona football Class of 2018.  The Tucson native was rated as the No. 6 prospect regardless of position in the state of Arizona.

Originally signing as a quarterback, Joiner completed three of his four pass attempts for 17 yards in two games a true freshman.  Playing in less than four games allowed Joiner to preserve a year of eligibility.

Prior to the start of summer camp, Joiner made the move from quarterback to wide receiver.  In his first season at the position, the redshirt freshman led the Wildcats in receiving yards with 552 and receiving touchdowns with five.  His 34 receptions were third on the team, while his 16.2 yards per catch was second among the nine players with at least 10 receptions.

Arizona head football coach Kevin Sumlin this month became one of a handful of coaches to take a pay cut.