Georgia Tech sends a message — loud and clear

As Morgan Burnett is indicating, everything is pointing up for Georgia Tech. (Johnny Crawford/jcrawford@ajc.com)

As Morgan Burnett is indicating, everything is pointing up for Georgia Tech. (Johnny Crawford/jcrawford@ajc.com)

You wanted a statement? This was it.

Something that screamed they’re a player in the ACC. Something that suggested that the faceplant in Miami last month was an aberration — “a perfect storm,” as Paul Johnson put it. Something that gave everybody reason to watch with at least some curiosity Sunday when the first BCS rankings come out, especially given the relatively soft schedule that lies ahead.

Georgia Tech is a team following its coach, a team following its quarterback, a team getting better every week — a team so unlike Georgia in every way.

You wanted a statement? Try this: The Jackets just drove Virginia Tech, the No. 4 team in the nation, into the turf. They danced on the sideline. They danced like they hadn’t danced since winning in Athens last season. And who would’ve thought after that dramatic victory over the Bulldogs that something could seem bigger this soon?

“This is by far the biggest win since I’ve been here,” quarterback Josh Nesbitt said.

Why?

“Because it’s the ACC. Because it’s over a top 5 team. That’s bigger than Georgia.”

When the Jackets dumped the Hokies 28-23 on Saturday night, it was their first win over a top-5 ranked team at home since a 7-6 win over Alabama in 1962. Tech had gone 0-17-1 since. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer didn’t take it any better than Bear Bryant did 47 years ago.

Fans stormed the field when the game ended. The goal posts officially fell at 9:16 p.m.

All lingering doubts about whether Paul Johnson’s offense could work against the nation’s elite fell with it.

“Their offense [was]  just hard to stop,” Beamer said. “Their quarterback was doing a great job, and we got into a little bit of a guessing game.”

Tech’s defense, mangled at Miami and Florida State, was the story in the first half, holding the ACC’s highest-scoring team to a field goal. Nesbitt and the offense took over in the second. The Jackets rushed for 258 yards in the second half. Nesbitt led everybody with 122 yards and three-touchdowns, including a Hokie-chokey 39-yard score with three minutes left to make it 28-16.

Not long after, they celebrated. They didn’t tear down the goal posts in Athens. But they did rip out chunks of the famed hedges.

This shot is a keeper. It's Demaryious Thomas catching a 51-yard pass from Josh Nesbitt, the quarterback's only completion of the night. (Johnny Crawford/jcrawford@ajc.com)

This shot is a keeper. It's Demaryious Thomas catching a 51-yard pass from Josh Nesbitt, the quarterback's only completion of the night. (Johnny Crawford/jcrawford@ajc.com)

When asked if he envisioned a bigger win was possible this season, Demaryius Thomas said: “Honestly, I didn’t think so until tonight.”

He was the Jackets’ leading receiver. He had one catch, the only completion of Nesbitt’s seven attempts.

“But we made it count,” Thomas said, laughing.

Yes — it went for 51 yards in the second quarter and set up a touchdown. Nesbitt’s 1-yard score gave them a 7-3 lead. They led the rest of the way.

They have won four straight since that 33-17 debacle at Miami. It may be a while before they lose again. The rest of the regular-season schedule: Virginia, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Duke, Georgia. Every game, winnable.

The Jackets have a chance for a special season, and Nesbitt is the biggest reason why. Earlier this season, it looked like quarterback would be a position that could hold Georgia Tech’s offense back. It doesn’t look that way anymore. Nesbitt is making plays. He’s making the difference. His 31-yard run to the Virginia Tech 4 in the third quarter set up his second t0uchdown for a 14-3 lead. When the Hokies answered with a 66-yard touchdown run by Ryan Williams, Nesbitt had two third-down conversions in the following possession to set up another TD — an improbable pitch, despite being sandwiched between two defenders, to Marcus Wright for a 13-yard touchdown. That made made it 21-10.

After the game, Johnson recalled how he talked to his players about Virginia Tech’s ranking, about the 0-17-1 streak, about the odds. He told them, “None of that mattered because you can’t get any points for that.”

They got the message. So did everybody else.

360 comments Add your comment

Jackets Keep Rollin'

October 17th, 2009
9:24 pm

First?

Truly gutsy victory.Great atmosphere. Still more to be done. GO JACKETS!

Go Dawgs

October 17th, 2009
9:25 pm

Let me be the first Dawg fan on this blog to say great win Tech. I didn’t think you could pull this off, but you did and looked impressive doing so. Here’s hoping you have at least one more loss in you. Good game guys.

U-no

October 17th, 2009
9:25 pm

U-no

October 17th, 2009
9:27 pm

OOPS! Dang it! Oh well! Hat’s off to you JKR! What a win! We should move up into the top 15 in the nation with no problem after tonight, maybe in the top 10!

Savannah fan

October 17th, 2009
9:27 pm

Great great win

Oldbush

October 17th, 2009
9:27 pm

This is a new day for Ga Tech. This much maligned triple
option offense will have a new respect. Va Tech stopped it for
the first half but with adjustments at half time, the offense proved
its value; but for some misjudgments by Nesbitt it would not have
been close in the second half. The GT teams gains confidence and
will get stronger the rest of the year.

F-105 Thunderchief

October 17th, 2009
9:29 pm

Ga. Tech is one hard, determined team. They keep playing like this and they should be a Top-10 team.

U-no

October 17th, 2009
9:29 pm

I can remember going to games at Tech with my dad back in the 60’s during the Bobby Dodd years. This is starting to feel like that again. We have a chance to win every time we play now! Awesome!

jlc

October 17th, 2009
9:29 pm

Please just let us beat UVA next week and start making travel plans to the Orange Bowl

U-no

October 17th, 2009
9:30 pm

Enter your comments here

David A

October 17th, 2009
9:30 pm

I’d hate to be N.C. State’s AD right now. They didn’t even interview Paul Johnson.

Ohio Jacket

October 17th, 2009
9:32 pm

Thanks Jeff for setting the scene well. Great win – enjoyed watching it from a long ways away.

collegeballfan

October 17th, 2009
9:32 pm

Biggest win for GT since the 1990 win at Virginia. No reason GT cannot run the table for the remainder of the season. 11 – 1. Damn!

GT GRAD

October 17th, 2009
9:38 pm

We need to stay focused and do everything possible to win our remaining games. An 11-1 record will put us in the Top 10 for sure. If we are lucky, Miami will lose to one of the ACC teams they have left and we play in the ACC Championship Game! Two wins later and we are set for serious talk about a potential NC run next season……….am I getting ahead of myself here……….probably so, but I am a TRUE GT FAN…….fanatical!!!

I have said it before & I will say it again…….The future of the GT Football Program is very Bright indeed!

Go GT!!

old Tech fan in NC

October 17th, 2009
9:39 pm

Warrior time again! Tech can win the ACC (with some luck) . Today could be the dawning of that day!

O'Brien

October 17th, 2009
9:39 pm

Jeff,

I’m still concerned about Nesbitt. His pitches have been erratic at times and once he makes up his mind to throw, he will throw, even if the receiver is double covered.

That being said, Nesbitt is a warrior, and this was a big win for GT tonight. Knowing Paul Johnson, he wont let Tech take anybdy for granted. Tech should win out, and hopefully make it to the ACC championship game.

Go Jackets!

Tech Tony

October 17th, 2009
9:41 pm

Nesbitt has that unmistakeable “something”, that’s for sure. Kind of fitting he’s at Tech because he’s become the engineer who drives the train, saying along the way, “follow me boys, I’m running this train and it’s destination is a win.”

gt76

October 17th, 2009
9:43 pm

win at virginia and the rest falls into place…clemson kicks thug u in south florida and we roll into the acc championship and the rose bowl…uf loses to ugla, beats bama, girls finishing school in austin loses big 12 championship to 8-3 Nebraska…fifth national championship…. go JACKETS!!!!!!!

Gt4ever

October 17th, 2009
9:44 pm

Good Win for the Jackets! Man, look out when this coach recruits a defense!!!!

Flag Boy

October 17th, 2009
9:45 pm

Aren’t these ACC tussles the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? I mean, really, those adorable little stadiums and those patty-cake opponents? Soooo sweet! And ACC teams go home at night and their Mommies and Daddies read them stowies about weal football teams in the big boy’s confwence like the SEC and the widdy biddy ACC teams shiver all night just imagining what it would be like to really have to play REAL college football. Pretending is so much FUN!!

willie martinez

October 17th, 2009
9:47 pm

yeah, yeah, yeah.. rave about tech. not a mention of how great a coach i am.

dbc

October 17th, 2009
9:49 pm

I’m a dog fan, but I’ll be the first to say I never thought the bees had a chance to beat Va. Tech. Great game and you obviously are for real. Enjoy the win. I hope we can at least give you a game next month.

Tech Tony

October 17th, 2009
9:49 pm

Athens High, Nashville High, Starkville High, Knoxville High, etc….there’s a tough road.

Brian

October 17th, 2009
9:49 pm

Miami moved into the top 10 after they beat a one loss okla team who was top 10 still. Why shouldn’t we be top 10?

CW

October 17th, 2009
9:51 pm

OK, huge plate of crow coming up for me. I had no faith in our D, but they sure did show up in the first half keeping the game close until Tech’s offense could crack the game open.

I agree with the comment above. This was Tech’s biggest win since beating Virginia in 1990. Huge win.

No reason to talk about any other team than the Virginia Cavaliers now. We owe them for last year’s loss.

Go Jackets!

Howie

October 17th, 2009
9:51 pm

Who’s that comin down the track…josh nesbitt and all his a backs. THWG! GO TECH!

What

October 17th, 2009
9:51 pm

FLAG BOY. There is a party in your mouth and everybody is cumming.

SC Jacket Fan

October 17th, 2009
9:52 pm

Congrats to all in GT Nation tonight. Paul Johnson has the boys believing & showed they can adjust from week to week and half to half. UVA always a thorn to GT (except 1990 classic game). Something tells me CPJ will keep them motivated. The man knows how to inspire and Nesbitt is going to keep getting better & more confident.

Brock

October 17th, 2009
9:52 pm

VT guy? where are you? you were SOOOOO SURE VT was going to win> What happened? Just for a reminder, here is whatyou said:

VTGuy
October 15th, 2009
8:15 pm
joey, I am not blind. I have seen GT play. Have you seen us play? Your precious little team was taken to the woodshed by Miami and we really had a lot of trouble with them now, huh? Your team came within a gnat’s patoot of getting whipped by the likes of Clemson so I really wouldn’t be projecting rediculous scores such as 35 – 21. I know you fans are high from the Nesbitt kool aide you’ve been chugging but please be objective. Your defense has some SERIOUS issues and you cannot fix that in a mere week. Face it – VT owns you and will rock your world on Saturday night. That’s just the way it is. Get mad, scream, kick your dog, punch the wall or whatever. VT owns you and will win the ACC. Period.

VTGuy
October 15th, 2009
9:55 pm
I’m really going to enjoy the game this weekend and I hope that Delbert and CJ will as well. My guess is that the GT blog will be eerily quiet on Sunday. VT wins huge in your own house and Nesbitt gets mugged by the VT defense. GT goes down by at least two TD’s. Go Hokes!!!!

Hope you enjoyed your weekend sucka!! Kick your dog you Mike Vick Lover!! Me and my dogs will enjoy a nice weekend…dog!!!! LOL!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

SC Jacket Fan

October 17th, 2009
9:54 pm

Flag Boy….45-42. Deal with it loser

osu fan

October 17th, 2009
9:54 pm

as a buckeye fan i will trade you PRIOR for NESBIT any day

Howie

October 17th, 2009
9:54 pm

Miami game is on channel 613 on dtv for those interested. they don’t look impressive at all

MightyQuinn

October 17th, 2009
9:55 pm

Awesome win! Roll on, Ramblin’ Wreck!

GT GRAD

October 17th, 2009
9:58 pm

Anybody out there think the presence of Coach Paul Johnson, this victory and the general success we have experienced the past two seasons will help recruiting efforts at GT?

Yeah Baby!!

gtne80

October 17th, 2009
9:59 pm

Georgia Tech’s toughest opponent for the remainder of the year will be Georgia Tech. At this point, the thing that we should fear most would be a loss of focus, overconfidence, scoreboard/poll watching, etc. This is still a young team. Look up and down the roster and see how many seniors you can spot. Paul Johnson will earn his pay if he can keep these kids on task. UVa will NOT be a cake walk. Tech should win, but the Cavs will not just give up when we run on the field.

Frank Beamer

October 17th, 2009
9:59 pm

We lost to a team that completed one pass against us. Now what’s that offense called again Bud?

Not Disappointed

October 17th, 2009
9:59 pm

HOME at last! Nothing like blogging in front of a fire. Made the wife and the mother-in-law a fire and blogging with my fellow jackets on the notebook, but no more Jack daniel this evening. Oh, and I’m tasting the vasity dogs now. wow!

It’s nice to blog from the game, but the Iphone typing sux.

Great game. Maybe more excitement last weekend, but I was glad to be there.

TechMD

October 17th, 2009
10:00 pm

What a great improvement by the defense and the offense continues to roll. Go Jackets! Sting em!

Not Disappointed

October 17th, 2009
10:03 pm

Oh yeah, didn’t foster seek advice from willie? Oh boy. I heard that from another fan. He claims to have listen to some sports radio show. That’s interesting if it’s true!

Where’s my buddy East Cobb Hokie? We are buds again…..

Not Disappointed

October 17th, 2009
10:04 pm

I’m watching miami vs ucf on cbs sports 109 on comcast.

Howie

October 17th, 2009
10:06 pm

How funny would it be for O”leary to give the Jackets a gift and beat Miami

Mark

October 17th, 2009
10:08 pm

To the stupid people on here who keep bringing up alabama vt. how about nc state south carolina??? huh? you barely won 10-7. nc state suuuucks. and sc is only down a td to bama. there is parity in college football. i’ve been saying this since week 3. watch for 2 teams you never expected to be in the nat champ game.

Mark

October 17th, 2009
10:09 pm

and yes that means i DO NOT expect fla and bama to be in the game. sc will beat bama tonight. watch. and bama will beat an OVERRATED fla team in the nat champ

Sean M

October 17th, 2009
10:10 pm

One game at a time that is the approach that Coach Johnson and then team will take. Tech fans should not be talking about making plans for the Orange Bowl or anywhere else until we find out whether or not we’ll even be playing in the ACC championship.

How is he?

October 17th, 2009
10:12 pm

We win out and we get to a BCS. That is a given.

Sean M

October 17th, 2009
10:13 pm

Howie-Miami losing to UCF wouldn’t matter as far the Coastal race is concerned. Tech needs Clemson to beat Miami next Saturday and GT needs to beat UVA then we’ll be alone in first place.

mowreck

October 17th, 2009
10:14 pm

Remember guys, we still got 5 games and 3 of them are away. Some take them ONE AT A TIME no matter what the schedule looks like. Virginia is next and they are waiting on us. Gonna be tougher and tougher as the season goes … GO JACKETS!

GT Facts

October 17th, 2009
10:14 pm

Mark- have you been drinking?

The Truth

October 17th, 2009
10:15 pm

Hey Flag Boy, yer Mommy is calling….telling you to go nite nite. Please move out of her house and get in the real world…now for the real stuff. Great win by the Jackets tonight but let us be careful…big win, some letdown inevitable and look who is next….our house of horrors…Virginia.
Get past these guys and we should cruise the rest of the way if we play the way we did tonight.

Jackets, YOU ROCK!!!!

Billy Jack

October 17th, 2009
10:19 pm

Sean M- you are incorrect. We have a 3 way tie for the Coastal and BCS ranking determines who goes to the ACCCG.