Tech rally falls short in ACC title defeat


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In a season in which order and sense have gone into hiding, Georgia Tech now found itself in a situation to set everything right.

The Yellow Jackets had 137 seconds to go 85 yards to beat Florida State, win the ACC championship, go to the Orange Bowl as a six-loss team and jab a thumb in the eye of their legion of doubters.

“I felt like we were going to go down and win the game,” quarterback Tevin Washington said.

It didn’t happen, and a season in which losses have been meted out either in brutally close fashion or by blowout added another of the former. Washington threw an interception from the Tech 37-yard line, closing out a 21-15 loss in the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium to the No. 13 Seminoles. A week after a humiliating loss to Georgia in which coach Paul Johnson called out the team for a “lack of competing,” the Jackets poured themselves into an upset attempt that gave a far better account of themselves but was ultimately unsuccessful.

“I thought they played with some heart and some intensity,” Johnson said. “And we just ran out of time.”

Tech was handcuffed by shoddy defense in the first half and inefficient offense that left it too great a deficit to overcome. Florida State’s power running game and Tech’s poor tackling fueled a 21-3 lead by the second quarter as the Seminoles drove for touchdowns in three of their first four possessions. Tech, meanwhile, found its gear on offense after punting on its first three series. Over the next five series, stretching from the second quarter to the end of the third, Tech advanced the ball three times to the FSU 30-yard line or past. Those three drives produced but nine points.

“The biggest thing was, when we got in the red zone, we got across the 30, we settled for field goals instead of touchdowns, where they capitalized early on their early red-zone trips,” B-back David Sims said.

That said, it was an impressive performance considering all that had preceded it this season. The team that played a physically superior Florida State team to within one possession of the Orange Bowl bore little or no resemblance to the one that lost by three touchdowns to Middle Tennessee State or was trounced by Georgia.

“Never happy when you lose, but I told our guys that I was proud of their effort, so we’ll take that and try to move forward,” Johnson said. “I thought our defense played their tail off, especially in the second half.”

The loss dropped Tech to 6-7, guaranteeing that the Jackets can finish no better than .500 for the second time in Johnson’s five seasons. The team will be required to use the bowl-eligibility waiver it received from the NCAA to gain a bowl invite, Tech’s 16th in a row. The Jackets will learn their bowl destination Sunday.

The ACC title-game loser can fall no lower than the Sun Bowl, which has the third pick of ACC teams after the BCS bowls. However, Tech officials have said they would be willing to drop past the Sun Bowl, where Tech played last year. If an agreement can be made, Tech’s likely destinations would be either the Belk Bowl, back in Charlotte Dec. 27 (possible opponent: Cincinnati) or the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 31 (Vanderbilt or Mississippi). USC has been projected for the Sun Bowl to face the ACC.

Tech will seek to arrest its seven-game bowl losing streak. A bowl loss would sink the Jackets to their first eight-loss season since 1994.

Offensively, Tech ran for 183 yards against the nation’s No. 4 rushing defense, more than doubling the Seminoles’ average yield of 85.1 rushing yards. With FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops placing the middle linebacker deep to help against the perimeter run game, Sims ran for 91 yards on 19 carries, charging low and hard through the middle.

However, Tech could have used a series of big plays to provide margin for error against the Seminoles’ agile and punishing defense. Besides a 20-yard scramble by Washington, Tech’s two longest runs went for 13 yards. Backup Vad Lee, who played the third and four series of the game in the quarterback rotation but did not return after that, completed a pass to wide receiver Darren Waller for 42 yards and Washington connected with A-back B.J. Bostic for 32 yards.

“When defenses can do that to you, where you have to do it five, six, seven yards at a pop, it’s hard to be consistent enough to get it down there and keep it going,” Johnson said.

At least offensively, Tech will rue perhaps three plays most. Near the end of the first half, on a 3rd-and-13 from the FSU 30-yard line, Washington threw into tight coverage to Greene near the goal line down the left sideline. Greene rotated and caught the ball with his back to the sideline, but as he touched down, his left foot knocked over the pilon at the front corner of the end zone. By rule, that put him out of bounds by inches. Kicker David Scully banged in a 47-yarder – the longest Tech field goal since the 2009 ACC title game – to cut the lead to 21-6.

On FSU’s second drive of the second half, inside linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days drove himself into wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin after a reception, dislodging the ball for a fumble that Rod Sweeting recovered at the FSU 48, which would be Tech’s best starting field position of the game.

Johnson dialed up a gadget play that looked similar to one that he tried to run against Georgia last week before a Bulldogs timeout whistled the play dead. A-back Synjyn Days – Hunt-Days’ older brother and a converted quarterback – took a toss from Washington, who slipped out of the backfield to the left. Days ran right and pulled up and threw back to Washington. However, cornerback Xavier Rhodes peeled back as he read the play and leapt for the interception.

The Tech defense forced a punt on the next series, giving the Jackets the ball back on their 25. Washington drove Tech into the FSU red zone as far as the 16. On 3rd-and-13 from the 19, Washington had A-back Robbie Godhigh open streaking to the end zone, but his pass missed long. Tech was left to kick another field goal, this time a 36-yarder from Chris Tanner that made the score 21-9. (Saturday was the first time Tech made three field goals in a game since the 2010 season.)

“That’s how it goes sometimes,” Washington said. “I wish they went our way, but it didn’t.”

Defensively, Tech played perhaps its best half of the season after halftime. The Seminoles had five possessions before its game-ending kneeldown, which finished with two punts, two fumbles and an interception. Florida State, which had failed to score in only four of its first 48 quarters and had the No. 14 scoring offense in FBS, was shut out in the second half Saturday night. The Tech fans who had traveled up I-85 were frenzied at the sight of a Tech defense making big stops and collapsing the pocket.

“That’s definitely something we can build off,” said outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, who recorded both of his sacks in the second half. “We have the ability. Our players can match up with anybody in this conference.”

Attaochu’s second sack of FSU quarterback EJ Manuel forced a punt that gave Tech the ball at its 30. Tech converted a 4th-and-1 with a Washington keeper, a 3rd-and-13 with a pinpoint pass from Washington to Bostic for 32 yards and a 4th-and-1 from the FSU 3 with a two-yard carry by Godhigh. Washington scored on the next play – Tech’s first touchdown of the game – for his 19th touchdown of the season.

Tech’s two-point try failed, but now the Jackets trailed 21-15 with 6:27 to play and FSU seemed to be teetering.

The Seminoles pushed out to the Tech 48, but safety Jemea Thomas made a leaping interception off Manuel to return the ball to Tech again at its 15 with 2:17 remaining. After falling short against Virginia Tech and Miami, Tech believed its moment had arrived.

So, however, did the Seminoles.

“We were, like, there’s no way in the world they’re getting in the end zone,” linebacker Vince Williams said.

He was proven correct when his younger brother Karlos intercepted Washington on a crossing route to Godhigh.

“I thought if I would have made a better throw and put it on his outside, he would have had a chance to catch the ball and get up the field,” Washington said. “I kind of left it inside and got undercut and they made a play on the ball.”

Said Karlos Williams, “I just broke on it and tried to tip it up and bat it down, but luckily it tipped up in the air and I just tried to make a sure catch and that’s what happened.”

Tech can take some consolation in pushing the Orange Bowl-bound Seminoles to the hilt. That said, the Jackets were in a 21-3 hole due to their own shortcomings. The Seminoles swamped the Tech defense in the first half, averaging 7.3 yards per play. Running back James Wilder Jr. gained 55 of his 71 yards in the first two quarters, shedding tacklers and bursting through creases for two touchdowns. He was named game MVP.

“The second half is the way that you’d like for them to play all the time,” Johnson said. “That’s the standard.”

Tech rebounded from its 42-10 capitulation to Georgia a week ago, but again was unable to deliver a complete four-quarter effort. A team marked by youth, inconsistent energy and its resilience was on full display in Charlotte. A seventh loss, albeit one against a top-flight team, was the result.

“I wouldn’t say we gave the game away,” Sims said. “I just think they made one more play than we did.”

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

93 comments Add your comment

GT Fan

December 2nd, 2012
12:18 am

Message for Synjyn …… when the PRIMARY receiver is not open (i.e. TW) is doesn’t mean you still throw the ball towards him.

On that play, even if the DB is 50 yds away, Tevin is still covered like a blanket!!

Find another receiver, or tuck-and-run!

GT Fan

December 2nd, 2012
12:18 am

Vad…Zero snaps in the 2nd half. Sad, PJ.

GT Fan

December 2nd, 2012
12:23 am

What a disappointing ending.

Off the top of my head, TW game-ending ints:

Ind Bowl vs. Air Force
2010 vs. UGA (and two really bad ints in the 3rd qtr of the 2011 game)
2010 vs VT
2012 OT vs VT
tonight vs. FSU

Frustrated fan

December 2nd, 2012
12:25 am

Ken, I think you’re being a little negative about the game. We were going against what might as well be a top ten team and took it down to the wire. We outplayed fsu in the second half and just got down a little too much to get back, kind of like uga in the sec championship:we just ran out of time to run offense. Very impressed by the game. Atmosphere was incredible at end of game.

Ken Sugiura

December 2nd, 2012
12:35 am

thanks for the feedback.

ACC Championship

December 2nd, 2012
12:43 am

All I remember is that victory formation.

Hayseed Dixie

December 2nd, 2012
12:49 am

Very proud of our defense tonight.

Those kids fought hard, and no-one on this planet gave them a chance.

And there they were- at the 4th quarter, still in it. Put a shiver down the spine of the Criminole nation.

Not easy being a football fan in the state of Georgia tonight.

Silly Mutts

December 2nd, 2012
12:49 am

Same ole song and dance!! Cant wait for the bowl beatdown!!! Lame as usual.

TechApp fan

December 2nd, 2012
12:51 am

Is Lee in the Johnson doghouse?

Note to Johnson, your O is boring with TW. FSU placed many near the line because they had no fear of TW….so that toss/sweep to a small A back was worthless. How can a”smart” coach not see that?

Other than that, great game..for the second half D.

GT Fan

December 2nd, 2012
12:54 am

Had the D that showed up tonight played the previous 12 games, GT would have a heckuva nice W/L record right now.

Hope this D accompanies the Jackets to their bowl game!

If do right, no can defense

December 2nd, 2012
12:59 am

GT Fan: Synjyn didn’t sell that play properly, imo.

Hayseed Dixie

December 2nd, 2012
1:01 am

@GT Fan

You’re right, this D was fantastic- they played good enough to win this game.

That is what is so tough right now: our guys could realistically be raising that trophy right now.

CloudmanJacket

December 2nd, 2012
1:17 am

It is time to RAISE our voices and demand CPJ is fired. 6-7 in a terrible conference including a loss to Mid Tn St and being embarrassed by in state rival. Time for CPJ to go. How many ACC teams in top 10? 0…in top 25? 2…and we cannot manage a winning record. Just simply embarrassing. If you are OK with just being mediocre than keep defending CPJ.

DawginNY

December 2nd, 2012
1:17 am

Congrats on a gutsy effort against an excellent opponent. Sorry you fell short. I feel your pain.

gt40pinhd

December 2nd, 2012
1:22 am

second half was a good defensive effort. play calling by cpj was …not good. too easily figured out. offense lacks variety. we missed orwin.

ibidGT

December 2nd, 2012
1:24 am

It annoys me how most everyone outside GT dismisses the second half GT defense and says FSU jut stopped trying. That was one great defensive stop after another, FSU got ouplayed by the defense in the second half, all there is to it.

Disappointing indeed that our offense laid an egg time after time…so many chances yet next to nothing to show for it. Let’s see this same defense in the bowl game.

Go Jackets!

gt40pinhd

December 2nd, 2012
1:28 am

hard to fire a guy who’s team averages 35 points a game.
why don’t we wait until we see who he hires a dc? lot of people thought al g. was a good choice. but a 34 doesn’t work with our size d line.

yeller bug

December 2nd, 2012
1:29 am

If the game was horseshoes or hand grenades, we might be undefeated—once again (actually two times) about 1 foot (inbounds near the end zone and a foot lower pass) and we have 14 points vice 6—alas we’re 6-7 because close don’t count. The team showed guts being smacked in the mouth early and not giving up. Don’t know if the D stiffened or FSU got conservative or both, but our D’s 2nd half performance was the best of the season.

Since CPJ decided on having/using 2 QBs, I would have had Vad practice the 2-pt conversion and the two minute drill all season long and then send him in—keeps him involved in the game and let’s the young gun focus on just a part of the game to get profficient. Second guessing CPJ here as I understand his desire for experience over raw talent, but our best passer is Vad. Heck, we could have run some delayed draws or shuttle passes—FSU LBs were 8 yds off the LOS. The pass to Godhigh was just too soft. TW ran the offense fairly well against a great D, but didn’t make the clutch passes when we needed them.

Maybe we can win a bowl game and salvage something from this season.

Biff Pocoroba

December 2nd, 2012
1:59 am

We needed to pass the ball on the final drive to win the game, and PJ puts Reggie Ball II back in the game. Reggie then throws a bad pass to a tiny running back which surprised no one. PJ should be fired for not playing Vad on that drive. Because PJ is so stubborn and would rather lose than admit he is wrong, the team won’t be much better next year since he wouldn’t let Vad play much because he did so well against UNC and made PJ look silly. Luckily, there will be plenty of empty seats next year, so PJ’s ego should still fit in the stadium unless we can get into the Big 10 and use that extra money for the buy out. DRad hired two Coach Johnsons – one for volleyball and one for football and both had the first losing season in years for their respective teams. DRad is gone and now we just need to get rid of his Johnsons to bring Tech back to respectibility. When our students at the game are doing the Gator chomp at FSU and cheering for Alabama to beat UGA because they can’t cheer for their own team to win anymore, it is sad. Get rid of Bohannon now and get a real QB coach that has heard of the forward pass and can teach someone how it is done and get rid of PJ next year and find someone who isn’t recruiting against Troy and MTSU for his top recruits. I hope PJ and his 47 supporters are out celebrating the “moral victory” tonight.

wreckmaniac

December 2nd, 2012
2:15 am

If PJ can’t bring in a defensive coordinator who is at least the equivalent of Ellis Johnson in the next 30 days, I’ll be ready to show him the road also.

wreckmaniac

December 2nd, 2012
2:20 am

At least FSU knows they were in a game which most of the country didn’t expect. FSU was expected to score 40-50 points. At the same time, FSU’s defense wasn’t ve

BBQ MAN

December 2nd, 2012
3:22 am

40+ years as GT supporter and I’ve never been more dissapointed than now. clearlyCPJ has lost control of the ship.

son's who?

December 2nd, 2012
3:42 am

Good luck to the kids. It’s been a tough year. They gave their all. Approach life in the same way and you will find success one day, on the field and off.

UGA = Yawn

December 2nd, 2012
6:05 am

Glad that’s over. I think the very few comments on here suggest that we have all given up on Johnson and don’t really care anymore. He does need to go but with no AD, how does he get fired? It needs to happen in the next day or two as they mentioned most of the vacant coaching jobs will be filled by the end of next week. I am just soooooo happy UGA lost. The only bright spot of our season – them not going to the NC game and not even going to a BCS bowl.

jojatk

December 2nd, 2012
6:32 am

I’m kinda proud of the effort, even if it came up short. The Jackets played a very good second half against a very tough defense, and never backed down. The future looks bright and I remain a CPJ believer. A really good DC would be a vast improvement, but even the change since AG’s departure has been noticed. Without their best A-back, they still carried the fight to FSU and nearly pulled off the upset, Go Jackets

TDone

December 2nd, 2012
7:25 am

We had a chance to win the game at the end. I do think Vad should have been in the game vice Tevin. My question for Ken, was Mark Bradley or Jeff Schultz at the game? I did not think so. The AJC must really be broke.

Yog

December 2nd, 2012
7:45 am

Good to see the pups lose! As a Tech fan I know uga has a much better program,but I like richt not because we can beat him and wont beat him with pj at our head,but because I dont have to worry about uga catching up to Tech with national champs record.So for at least another few years we have the most and the most recent.GO JACKETS!!!

BUZZ Fan

December 2nd, 2012
7:46 am

GT needs to accept Sun bowl invitation for opportunity to beat down USC!!!!!

realist

December 2nd, 2012
7:52 am

Tevin choked it up in the end just as usual. The program is in bad shape with little hope going forward as long as PJ is still around. I think we now know that he can’t win with his own recruits.

Blue Pants

December 2nd, 2012
7:55 am

I would have loved to see Vad Lee get his chance to have a “Charlie Ward” moment on the final possession. I just hope we can start a positive bowl streak versus a SEC team in Nashvegas.

Klaatu

December 2nd, 2012
7:56 am

Enter your comments here

Klaatu

December 2nd, 2012
7:59 am

Oops… empty post. Guess that shows I really am in the minority, but, here I go anyway: Congrtulations and big Thank You, to Tevin Washington. (Dr. Rice and the Total Person concept program are proud of you and look forward to you continuing to accomplish great things.)

Techster

December 2nd, 2012
8:03 am

Sort of encapsulates the season, doesn’t it? It’s tough to rally with a skill set we don’t possess. When the forward pass is more of a desperation play, than an integral part of the offense, it’s tough to overcome speed in the defense, especially when they sell out to stop the run. Yes, TW started the season with a game-ending INT and it is fitting that he ended the season with a game-ending INT. Passing is not his strength, so the results are not unexpected. Congratulations to the defense for finally showing up. Can you imagine what might have been this year with more second have defensive play like that? And, thank you, Jemea, for being a bright spot in the defense’s “body of work” this season.

yellowfever

December 2nd, 2012
8:20 am

Thinks cpj for getting out coached for the 13 time this season.What are they paying you all that $$$$ for again?

Jacket Dad

December 2nd, 2012
8:34 am

Proud that our guys did not give up. The defense stepped it up in the second half and gave us a chance. I’m majorly frustrated with CPJ – you sir, did not put us in position to win this game. Play calling falls on you sir. And why in the world was Vad not in the game????!!!!!!

If we go to a bowl, I know from experience you will fill our minutes with TW……and we will suffer another of your bowl defeats.

dry dirt road

December 2nd, 2012
8:46 am

CPJ made some personal calls that scored or got Tech a first down. Then again he made some that ran the pitchouts to the narrow side of the field with no field to run on, as opposed to runing toward the wide side of the field. He tried to force Tech to tight rope walk in traffic. FSU used to have a Flying Circus in the 60’s, and they would be the team who tight rope walked with narrow side pitchouts, not Tech. Also he played TW who once again threw wobbly passes that were intercepted. Since Lee did so well against NC, he should have played this game. The team took too long to warm up, waiting until the second half to make a game of it instead of a blowout.

BIGGUN

December 2nd, 2012
8:46 am

Toilet Bowl bound! WOW! Sign me up!

dry dirt road

December 2nd, 2012
8:51 am

Ol’ CPJ tries to gain yards in a traffic jam. Now just how would he accomplish that?

GTMAN

December 2nd, 2012
8:56 am

The kids played great. Unfortunately they can not overcome the worst coaching staff in history. TW is the worst passing QB in football. Every GT fan knows that Vad should have played more in the second half and definitely in the final drive. This coaching staff can not recruit, can not develop players, and can not make good crunch time coaching decisions. Time to send the high school coaching staff down the road and hire some real college football coaches.

dry dirt road

December 2nd, 2012
8:57 am

Tech needs the shotgun badly. Running to the sidelines is not toward the goal line, and runs toward the bench with eagerness to warm it up for another player on the field when he has to come out of the game. TW was again tackled by his jersey like a calf being roped out of the rodeo gate since he ran toward thwe side after a snap on the los. That’s exactly what I have pointed out here in the past as a flaw of not using the shotgun.

Born2Buzz

December 2nd, 2012
9:09 am

How many games did TW end with an INT for us? I know for sure we saw it in the first game he played and the last. Note to PJ and the new AD, why would I pay to come watch the same thing play out over and over. Change PJ, or go away.
Somebody please tell me a close game that TW ever won?

dry dirt road

December 2nd, 2012
9:15 am

Tech should have worn the white helmets. FSU does not wear garnet ever. Tech is disorganized as evidenced by no AD and no DC, and not wearing the white helmets. They need to get Curry as AD and Glanville as DC. Glanville said he wanted to coach again. Glanville was one of the D coaches when I went to Tech. I think he was a secondary coach. We had a different yj then, not Buzz, and my view of the jackets nest on the white helmets would exclude Buzz, so they would be acceptable for the team to wear in my opinion. Also Tech had an astronaut who walked on the Moon, and the white helmets are shaped like the Moon. I understand the astronaut left a Tech banner on the Moon. I believe the astronauts name was John Young. Tech is luny to not wear the white helmets.

dry dirt road

December 2nd, 2012
9:23 am

I don’t like the metal flake on the gold helmets this year. It looks cheap. It needs to be a solid satin gold like it used to be. The metal flake looks like a cheap hot rod, candy looking, candy ass looking. It needs to be the solid satin that the ramblin wreck is. The ramblin wreck is not a hot rod.

dry dirt road

December 2nd, 2012
9:26 am

The damage that has been done to Tech by Radikovich sure is apparent in the football program.

Dadgum.....

December 2nd, 2012
9:30 am

First off, congrats to Tech for showing great resolve last night. They put the Seminoles on ice. Very impressive defense in the 2nd half.

Now back to reality. When it is clear to anyone with football IQ over 1 that GT must change its offense to be a force again at a championship level why do we still have CPJ apologists on this blog. Johnson is proving every game that his offense can’t win games against any top tier program or meaningful game. Last night was a prime example. His “system” has now produced a grand total of 25 points in two meaningful games.

NC State just fired a coach with a record some would say is better than Tech because they weren’t satisfied with the future prognosis. They went out and got a coach with huge recruiting talents and a spread offense. Look out for the Pack! GT needs a change so badly the announcers last night indicated Tech couldn’t compete with Johnson’s offense if it fell behind. Duh! Now GT will win some games and if the new AD and president are fine and complacent with that fact then they see no reason to change. The people at GT need a better future vision or we are paying a coach a lot of money to run his boring offense. Get a recruiter and a better offense and you will get better players. Last night left me with a big fear of the future.

Rock on…..

Crazy Robert

December 2nd, 2012
9:40 am

After watching this game I have changed my mind about them going to a bowl with a losing record. I think they deserve another game so they can do something no other CPJ TECH team has done. WIN a bowl game. GO JACKETS!!!

BEAT UGA on Tuesday!!!!!!!!!!!

Dadgum.....

December 2nd, 2012
9:48 am

Just so we are all clear, the Sun Bowl has said they don’t want GT. the Jackets and Sun Bowl are looking to switch with another bowl. The Belk Bowl is out as Duke has already been unofficially invited. No idea why that bowl keeps getting mentioned. Just forget that. The Sun Bowl is trying to pair up VT and USC with GT going to the Music Bowl. Problem is Music Bowl wants VT too and they are in the drivers seat as the Sun Bowl is mandated to Tech if they can’t work out a switch. The Russell bowl may take VT ahead of the Pack which would make the point moot.

My guess is GT will play in the Sun Bowl and just get shredded by USC and Barkley. GT may be forced to fire Johnson just like they were forced to fire Hewitt. Eventually the apathy in the program’s direction will grow so great that the buyout amount won’t matter. Very sad days await the program until that day happens. Trust me it will happen.

Dadgum.....

December 2nd, 2012
9:55 am

Crazy Robert….appropriate moniker sir. After watching last night I came to the conclusion that offense can’t beat any team. Against USC in the Sun Bowl we will lose by 24. I would never want us to lose but if it will bring the dismissal of CPJ then that would be acceptable.

If I was the new AD the very first thing I would do is fire Johnson. He is arrogant (just research the pre game interview). He is boring. His system doesn’t work. Fan base is upset. No reason to be optimistic about the future. Sooner or later the buyout will seem like a deal.

dry dirt road

December 2nd, 2012
10:16 am

dry dirt road is my pen name, not dry dirty road

dry dirt road

December 2nd, 2012
10:19 am

I wrote dry dirty road by mistake, sorry