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.