Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington said bad luck derailed the offense in Saturday’s 49-28 loss to Middle Tennessee State at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets had four turnovers and allowed four sacks, hurdles high enough to trip them in what for a while was a point-for-point race with the Blue Raiders.
“We had a couple of bad breaks,” Washington said.
The stats would indicate that Tech played well. The Yellow Jackets finished with 425 yards and converted all four chances they had to score touchdowns inside the 20-yard line. The quarterbacks, Washington and Vad Lee, combined to complete 18 of their 26 pass attempts for 187 yards.
But turnovers were the problem, particularly two in the second half — one on downs and another on a bizarre interception — that sealed the defeat.
Trailing 28-21, Tech faced fourth and 12 on the Blue Raiders’ 36-yard line. Washington hit Orwin Smith coming across the field for 11 yards. His momentum taking him sideways, Smith tried to keep going around two defenders. Instead, they stopped him 1-yard short of the first down with 2 minutes, 10 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Blue Raiders flipped the quick-strike script Tech normally uses by hitting a 75-yard touchdown pass on the next play to take a 35-21 lead.
Tech responded with a touchdown to cut its deficit to 35-28 and then Tech’s defense, which struggled most of the day, forced the Blue Raiders to punt.
Washington dropped back on the next play and found a receiver running open down the middle of the field. As the ball got to the receiver, so did cornerback Kenneth Gilstrap, with all three colliding at the same time. The ball bounced high into the air while the receiver fell down. Oddly, Gilstrap landed on his feet, caught the ball and returned the interception 38 yards to Tech’s 15-yard line. The Blue Raiders scored a few plays later to take a 42-28 lead.
“The bottom line is we didn’t do anything very good,” coach Paul Johnson said. “We didn’t block very well on offense, we didn’t throw, we didn’t catch very well, we didn’t do anything very good. When you do that and turn the ball over you get beat.”
Sun Belt upset
Teams from the Sun Belt Conference, which Georgia State will play in next year, have beaten teams from BCS conferences three times this year:
Sept. 8: Louisiana-Monroe 34, Arkansas 31 (OT)
Sept. 15: Western Kentucky, 32, Kentucky 31 (OT)
Saturday: Middle Tennessee State 49, Georgia Tech 28
– Doug Roberson, AJC.