The Georgia Tech defense played well in the middle of the game, just not in the beginning and not at the end. After providing little resistance on a Virginia Tech touchdown drive on the Hokies’ second possession of the game, Georgia Tech held Virginia Tech on seven consecutive possessions, followed by a drive that ended in a missed field goal. That run included three three-and-outs.
During that stretch, the Jackets’ pass rush challenged quarterback Logan Thomas and the run defense had tailback Michael Holmes contained. For the game, Virginia Tech was 5 of 16 on third downs, a good number for the Jackets defense.
“I think we beat them upfront the whole of the game,” cornerback Rod Sweeting said. “The d-line did a good job of harassing the quarterback.”
Defensive end Izaan Cross, who also subbed for T.J. Barnes at nose tackle, had one of the best games of his career, providing good push and contributing half a sack and half a tackle for loss.
“I was just doing whatever I could to get back there,” Cross said.
However, Georgia Tech allowed scoring drives on the final two series of regulation, a 42-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to Demitri Knowles after he got behind Sweeting. Then, after the Jackets took a 17-14 lead with 44 seconds left, Virginia Tech responded with a 51-yard drive in six plays to set up the game-tying field goal. That drive included a 22-yard pass completion to Corey Fuller and a 23-yard reception to Fuller on 4th-and-4 with just 13 seconds left in the game.
“Played good up until the end,” coach Paul Johnson said of the defense.
The Jackets were playing without starting cornerback Louis Young and inside linebacker Daniel Drummond (out with suspensions) and safety Fred Holton (undisclosed injury). Jamal Golden played safety and cornerback, logging heavy minutes in his first start. Safety Coray Carlson played in a sub package and received his first extended playing time.
Starting for Drummond in his first career game, Jabari Hunt-Days played well, making nine tackles, second most on the team behind outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu’s 10.
“It didn’t take me long to get, I guess, focused for the game,” Hunt-Days said. “I was already ready for it. There were no nerves in my body. I was just playing, doing my responsibility.”