Georgia Tech: 36
In a pivotal division matchup, the Yellow Jackets would host their third straight opponent at home in the Miami Hurricanes. After falling to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Labor Day night, Tech could ill afford to lose another game in the division if it hoped to keep its chances alive of playing in the ACC Championship game on December 1st. The Hurricanes entered at 2-1, having suffered their only loss two weeks prior to the then 20th ranked and eventual Big XII Champion Kansas State Wildcats. Tech had struggled with Miami of late, losing the previous three meetings in series while averaging just over 11 points per game.
Miami began the game’s opening possession at her own 25 and jumped out to a fast start against a sub-par Yellow Jacket defense. Two plays picked up a first down before Stephen Morris found Phillip Dorsett on a 65 yard touchdown pass with less than a minute gone in the game to put the Hurricanes ahead 7-0.
The Jackets quickly moved from their own 32 into Miami territory on the drive that followed, but faced a 4th and 3 at the Hurricane 43 yard line. Rather than punt, Paul Johnson elected to go for the first down and Orwin Smith was stopped for a 7 yard loss that put the ball back in Miami’s hands.
After the squads exchanged punts, Miami began from its own 13 with just under 7 minutes to play in the first quarter. The ‘Canes marched back into Tech territory, riding arm of Morris and the legs of Mike James before stalling at the Yellow Jacket 21 yard line. Jake Wieclaw then connected on a 38 yard field goal to put the visitors up 10-0.
The Jackets suffered a huge mental lapse on the ensuing kickoff when Orwin Smith caught the ball in the end zone, stepped out to return, and then retreated and downed the ball for a safety. The senior back believed that he was taking a touchback, but instead increased the Hurricane lead to 12-0 with 4:11 left in the opening period.
A poor punt on the free kick gave Miami great field position at Tech’s 48 to start yet another Hurricane scoring drive. It took ten plays to cover the distance with James scoring on a one yard run to make it 19-0 as the first quarter expired.
The Jackets began their first drive of the second quarter from their own nine after a poor kick return by Smith, but quickly pushed out to the 36 yard line. Tevin Washington then found Tony Zenon for a 57 yard pass to make it first and goal from the seven. Smith would score two plays later from 8 yards out to make it 19-7 for Tech’s first points of the game.
On the ensuing Hurricane drive, Morris hooked up with Dorsett for 36 yards on first down before the latter lost possession on a fumble to Jabari Hunt-Days at the Ramblin’ Wreck 43 yard line.
Tech pushed into Miami territory, advancing to the 44 before Robert Godhigh reeled off 37 yards to the Miami 7 yard line. An added personal foul on the Hurricanes placed the ball just within the 4 and Washington scored two plays later to the cut deficit to five at 19-14.
The Ramblin’ Wreck defense forced a punt two minutes later and Jamal Golden returned the boot 53 yards to the Miami 23 yard line. Washington found Zenon for 17 yards on third down to keep the drive alive at the Hurricane 7 and scored three plays later on a 10 yard run to put Tech ahead 20-19. The senior quarterback found Zenon again on a two point conversion attempt to put the Jacket ahead by three at 22-19.
The Yellow Jacket defense picked off Morris on the next drive, but eventually punted back late in the period and Tech would lead by three at the break.
The Tech offense opened the third quarter with a 4 play, 65 yard drive to increase the lead to ten in less than two minutes of play. Tony Zenon scored the Yellow Jacket touchdown on a 35 yard run to make it 29-19.
Solid defense put the ball in Tech’s hands just two minutes later and Washington hooked up with Jeff Greene for a 58 yard strike to the Hurricane two yard line. Tech’s senior leader scored on a two yard run one play later to increase the Yellow Jacket advantage to 36-19.
With ten minutes to play in the third, Miami took over at its own 20 yard line. The Hurricanes chewed nearly six minutes of clock while moving 74 yards in 17 plays before stalling at the Yellow Jacket 6 yard line. Wieclaw’s field goal from 23 yard was good and the ‘Canes cut Tech’s lead to 36-22.
The Jackets gained just one first down on the drive that followed and punted back to the Miami 18 late in the period. Morris led the visitors into Tech territory as the third quarter came to a close and then found Rashawn Scott for 25 yards on third down to advance to Tech’s 15 early in the fourth. James covered the remaining distance one play later to put Miami within 7 at 36-29.
Tech failed to gain much yet again, and Miami came back in a fury, pushing all the way to Tech’s 3 on a run by Duke Johnson. But the Ramblin’ Wreck defense held strong and forced a field goal attempt that Wieclaw missed wide right with roughly 7 minutes to play.
Washington led the offense to midfield on the ensuing drive, but again came up short on third down, forcing another Yellow Jacket punt.
Ryan Rodwell pinned the Hurricanes at their own 9 yard line with two minutes to play, needing a touchdown to force overtime. Morris completed four consecutive passes en route to Tech’s 41 yard line and found Johnson two plays later for a first down at Tech’s 25. Consecutive penalties for offsides and pass interference pushed Miami to Tech’s 10 before Morris found James in the end zone with twenty seven seconds to play to knot the contest at 36-all and force the additional period.
The Jackets lost the toss and would play offense first in overtime. Godhigh gained 14 yards on first down to advance to the 11 and Zach Laskey followed up with 5 yards to the 6. Zenon gained three on second and Washington picked up just one on a quarterback keeper to push the ball to the one yard line on third down. After calling a timeout to discuss, Johnson elected to go for the touchdown, but Washington was tackled just shy of the end zone on the midline option, ensuring that Miami need only a field goal to gain victory.
James was stopped for no gain on first down, but covered the entire 25 yards on second to end the contest in Miami’s favor at 42-36.
The loss handed Tech’s its second overtime defeat of the young season. With both occurring in divisional play, the Jackets now found themselves in a deep hole in the divisional race. While not yet mathematically eliminated, Tech would need solid play in its remaining conference games, as well as a bit of help from Virginia Tech and Miami to reach the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.
Miami would go on to split its remaining eight games at 4-4 before self-imposing a post-season ban in the wake of an NCAA investigation. The ban would eventually prove to be the deciding factor that earned the Jackets a trip to the ACC Championship Game.
MIA – 30
GT – 18
MIA – 173
GT – 287
MIA – 31-52-436
GT – 3-8-132
MIA – 1
GT – 0
MIA – 1-1
GT – 0-0
MIA – 8-66
GT – 5-35
Game Summary: http://www.ramblinwreck.com/sports/m-footbl/recaps/092212aab.html
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