In a game of streaks, Georgia Tech both overcame a 19-point first quarter deficit and gave up a 17-point second half lead to Miami at home in a thrilling overtime game. Miami started the game strong, scoring 19 in the first half and dominated Tech at the line of scrimmage.
The Canes started off with a bang, scoring on their third play of the game on a 65-yard touchdown strike from Stephen Morris to Phillip Dorsett. Miami kicked a field goal on their next possession. On the ensuing kickoff, Orwin Smith tried to kneel down, but he had already allowed the ball to cross the plane of the goal line giving Miami an unforced safety. Miami would score at the very end of the quarter on a Mike James touchdown run, his first of three, to go up 19.
Tech rallied in the second quarter to score 22 and took a three-point lead into halftime. The Tech offense hit its stride and created huge holes to run through, and even had some big pass plays off of play-action as the Jackets dominated the middle portion of the game. Tech had 340 total yards in the second and third quarters, a huge portion of their 419 total yards for the game.
The rushing attack found space to run both inside and outside hitting big rushes from Orwin Smith and Tony Zenon on the outside and Tevin Washington and Zach Laskey exploiting the middle of the Miami defense. Tech’s offense was rolling and the defense completely shut down the Miami offense which had been torching the Jackets in the first quarter. Miami’s offense had 191 yards in the second and third quarters and turned the ball over twice.
Miami finally stopped the bleeding near the end of the third quarter, kicking a field goal to cut the Yellow Jackets lead to 14. The fourth quarter belonged to the Hurricanes, who found an answer for the Tech option. Miami held the Jackets to just 38 yards in the fourth quarter, which gave the Hurricanes three possessions with which to cut into the 14-point Tech lead. James’ second touchdown of the game came on a 15-yard run just over a minute into the fourth quarter. Jake Wieclaw missed a 22-yard field goal with just over seven minutes to go in the game that would have gotten Miami to within four.
Tech ran out five minutes of clock and was able to down a punt on the Miami nine with exactly two minutes to play. Miami matriculated the ball down the field thanks to four straight passes from Morris to Davon Johnson that got the ball to the Tech 41. Two big Tech penalties helped get the ball down the Jackets’ 10. Morris threw a screen to James for a touchdown with 27 seconds remaining to take the game to overtime.
Miami won the toss and chose to defend for the first overtime possession. Georgia Tech quickly moved the ball down to the three-yard line in just three plays. On third-and-two, Tech was stopped just short, and in vintage Paul Johnson fashion, the Yellow Jackets went for it on fourth-and-one. Tevin Washington tried to keep it on a quick QB Trap to the right, a play that Tech got touchdowns on twice, but Miami was wise to it and stuck Washington at the line of scrimmage.
Only needing a field goal to win, Miami put the ball in the safe hands of James, who ran for his third rushing touchdown, and fourth overall, on third down to clinch the improbable comeback victory for the Hurricanes.
The loss is a hugely disappointing one for the Yellow Jackets, who have seen two ACC rivals comeback in the fourth quarter to tie it and then beat the Jackets in overtime. As Miami took the ball down the field on that final drive, there was an eerie similarity to the Virginia Tech loss in the Jackets opener. Al Groh’s defense has struggled against top competition thus far, especially in crunch time. The Hurricanes offense put up a gaudy 609 total yards including 436 passing yards from Stephen Morris. Tech’s secondary was unable to keep up with speedster Phillip Dorsett, who went wild with 184 receiving yards on nine receptions, including that 65-yard touchdown on the opening possession. In the redzone, Miami used its size advantage to allow James to punch it into the end zone three times.
The Yellow Jackets offense continued to play sporadically, at times looking like a juggernaut, but other times looking completely inept. Tech flashed brilliance in the middle of the game, but when they needed to eat clock and pick up first downs they were unable to do so. On the biggest play of the game, Tech was unable to run the ball for one yard. Johnson will get criticized for going for it in that situation, but in an offense predicated on picking up consistent chunks of yardage, Johnson had to feel confident that his guys could get him that yard.
Tech is now stuck in a deep hole in the ACC with two conference losses to their biggest rivals. With Clemson still lurking later on in the season, the Yellow Jackets will need to play much more consistently and also hope for some help if they are to get back in the conversation for competing for the division.