On the wildest night imaginable, Tech shows its tenacity

Tallahassee — We learned something about Georgia Tech last night/this morning. We learned several things, actually, and not all of them were good. But this part was:

Georgia Tech will fight until the last dog dies.

Georgia Tech will not bend to sentiment, to its own ineptitude, even to a fumble inside the red zone with the game on the line. Georgia Tech will fight to the end even if the end comes way past midnight. Georgia Tech might not be the nation’s best team, but it has as big a heart as anyone.

We flash forward. We flash past the five first-half Florida State touchdowns and the 78-minute delay for lightning. We gloss over the 403 yards the Seminoles amassed in 30 minutes and we move to the fourth quarter, to the bad Josh Nesbitt pitch that became the signature play of a screwball game.

Josh Nesbitt throws the ball away. Florida State’s Nigel Carr picks it up. Josh Nesbitt snatches — no other verb applies, really — it back. Soon Josh Nesbitt scores the touchdown that gives Tech an 11-point lead in a game that had been as tight as a tick all night/morning.

And right there it was: The fire that Paul Johnson didn’t see after the Jackets fooled around and yielded 17 points to Jacksonville State in the opener. The ferocity that wasn’t on display that lost Thursday night in Miami. The heart that might just yield a championship for these Jackets before it’s all said and done.

Said Johnson: “I’m proud of our team. They found a way.”

Yes, yes. We can quibble about the defense, and the lack thereof, and when you yield five touchdown drives and 403 yards in a half it’s more than quibbling. It’s doubts on the order of Willie Martinez doubting. But here was the thing. Trailing five times by a touchdown, Tech answered every time. It never let the game become a Bobby Bowden call-back-the-years testimonial. It kept playing. It kept scoring. And ultimately it claimed the game itself.

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You can say Tech will never win anything with a defense like this, but it just won a game of some importance with a defense like this. It won because the defense bowed up, as coaches say, and yielded only nine points in the second half while Tech was scoring 21, and the second half was the one that mattered. The first half, as wild as it was, was just for show. The second half was the measure of these teams, and we saw in the final two periods why FSU is doomed to fail and Tech is dressed for success.

The Jackets are turning into — pardon the expression, Tech folks — a junkyard dog of a team. They nearly blew a game against Clemson but took it back. They nearly were blown out of Doak Campbell Stadium on Papa Bowden Night (unofficial) after a week of uproar and a released statement of support by Florida’s governor — really! — for Bowden on Saturday. But they beat Clemson at the end and they ran down Florida State in the second half because these Jackets are turning into the feisty bunch PJ demanded they become.

The first half was ridiculous: Nine possessions, nine touchdowns. The second half was closer to real football, and the second half was no contest. Tech ran the ball and pushed FSU backward and made, wonder of wonders, the occasional stop, and when finally the game was on the line and the ball was there to be grabbed Josh Nesbitt grabbed it last and tightest.

And now Tech comes home, tired but buoyed, to face Virginia Tech in a game that could decide the ACC Coastal. The Hokies are a tough bunch. But these Jackets are rather salty themselves. They didn’t roll over for Papa Bowden. They won’t roll over for Brother Beamer.

338 comments Add your comment

Bobby Colton

October 11th, 2009
1:01 am

Georgia Tech will beat Virginia Tech next Saturday!

James in Smyrna

October 11th, 2009
1:02 am

Josh Nesbitt – wow!!!!

Ernest

October 11th, 2009
1:02 am

This was an EXCITING game. It is GREAT to BEE a Yellow Jacket!

sharecropper

October 11th, 2009
1:03 am

Thank god I had my annual physical Wednesday and not tonight. I would have been hospitalized.

Cuz

October 11th, 2009
1:03 am

Go Jackets. Now go to bed. And go win the ACC.
From a Dawg.

zgoldatl

October 11th, 2009
1:03 am

Go Jackets!! Fight! Win! Drink! Get Naked!

SamInAtlanta

October 11th, 2009
1:03 am

I hope our 2nd half defense shows up next week…the offense will do fine.

Mark Bradley

October 11th, 2009
1:04 am

Bowden: “The main problem is the wishbone — we couldn’t figure it out.”

Alabama Jack

October 11th, 2009
1:04 am

5-1 is better than 3-3. What a team, what a game, what a heart.

Now all we need is some Bud Carson style defense. Hope Dave Womack and the guys have it in them.

Can there be any other Coach of the Year besides PJ?

George P Burdell

October 11th, 2009
1:04 am

Josh Nesbitt is the best QB in the state. What a Warrior.

CarRamRod

October 11th, 2009
1:04 am

Just Awesome

GO JACKETS

Supersize that order, mutt

October 11th, 2009
1:04 am

Great article, Mark

Mark Bradley

October 11th, 2009
1:05 am

Bowden on what would benefit FSU: “Don’t play the Wishbone anymore — that’s the best thing we can do. We can’t stop them.”

Supersize that order, mutt

October 11th, 2009
1:05 am

Maybe he couldn’t figure out the wishbone because we don’t run the damn wishbone. LOL

TechDan

October 11th, 2009
1:05 am

FIRST!!!

GO JACKETS!!

Ernest

October 11th, 2009
1:05 am

Mark, it isn’t it something when everyone in the stadium knows who will carry the ball yet nothing can be done to stop them consistently? Who said this offense will not work?

TECH

October 11th, 2009
1:06 am

I don’t know if we can beat VT, but that was a BIG WIN. So proud of Nesbit and the boys and proud to be a JACKET

GameTime

October 11th, 2009
1:06 am

Outstanding effort and heart!! So many great contributions by many players – a great team effort. Josh Nesbitt is a warrior that hates to lose. And tonight he made it happen. What a wonderful effort and great leadership.

TechDan

October 11th, 2009
1:06 am

Damn. I shouldn’t have stopped to actually read. No even close on that first.

DMWC

October 11th, 2009
1:06 am

“Georgia Tech will fight until the last dog dies.”

Awesome.

Mark Richt

October 11th, 2009
1:06 am

I shore wish I had sumbody who could run the dang ball like that tech. I thunk Hurshall still has a year of eligibilty lefft. I wunder how many yards theyll get against us?

ExecutiveStinger

October 11th, 2009
1:06 am

A signature win for Paul Johnson and Co.

Way to fight, way to claw, way to snatch!!!!

Defense needs work like Caleb King’s grades, but we’ll get there, he won’t….

GOOOO JACKETS!!!!!

5-1 GT

October 11th, 2009
1:06 am

Josh Nesbitt is one smart TOUGH dude.

Bebe's Kids

October 11th, 2009
1:07 am

Mark, great piece but did you really have to use the junkyard dog reference?? When was the last time we had this big of a game at Grant Field like we have this saturday? I really thought we were going to let this one slip away. THWG

mrb

October 11th, 2009
1:07 am

Great article Mark. You just sealed it. No way I’m getting to sleep tonight. Josh Nesbitt is the man…and he’s flying up the charts of favorite Jackets of all time. He flat-out took over that game, just like Mississloppie State last week and Carolina the week before.

Mark Bradley

October 11th, 2009
1:07 am

Bowden on why he ordered the onside kick in the first half: “We couldn’t stop them — why give them the dadgum ball?”

George P Burdell

October 11th, 2009
1:07 am

Paul Johnson is the best college coach in the state also

Joe Schmoe

October 11th, 2009
1:07 am

Coach Paul Johnson is the man!!! GT will be around the top of the leauge for as long as Johnson is here. I hope we can find a new D coordinator in the offseason thought.

Paul Johnson's Thought Balloon

October 11th, 2009
1:08 am

Are these real Bowden quotes?

Tom

October 11th, 2009
1:08 am

Shades of many a performance by Tracy Ham-led Eagle teams……but with D-1A talent.

GTOldSchool21

October 11th, 2009
1:08 am

As a frosh, 17 years ago in Atlanta, Tech was up by 19 points against FSU with 6 min left (that’s how the story remains in my head). A legend was born that 4TH quarter with the “shotgun offense” as Charlie Ward and FSU came back to win. Tonight…sweet redemption…the “dadgum wishbone” offense puts the nail in the coffin of a legend, Bobby Bowden. GO TECH 49-44!!!!!!!

rocket

October 11th, 2009
1:08 am

going to be a great night at Homecoming…..BZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!

Mark Bradley

October 11th, 2009
1:08 am

Bowden said he didn’t think the distractions affected his team. He said the captains wanted to do the solidarity walk during introductions with him in the middle. He said he tried to get away from them but they picked him up and wouldn’t let him go.

HATS OFF TO JOSH NESBITT

October 11th, 2009
1:08 am

Folks-

Got to cheer for this kid Nesbitt on every play. He busts his tail, all the while many criticize him on talent… Love this kid. He is a model for college players. Let’s beat VA TECH next week!!!!!!!!!!

Mark Bradley

October 11th, 2009
1:09 am

Yes. These are Bowden quotes. They were piped into the press box via TV.

Ernest

October 11th, 2009
1:09 am

Joe Schmoe, in fairness we need more ‘beef’ on the defensive line. I trust that PJ and company will ‘coach up’ the players we have to overcome that, though.

Mark Bradley

October 11th, 2009
1:09 am

What? You thought I was making them up?

SamInAtlanta

October 11th, 2009
1:10 am

Mark. What were PJ’s comments on our defense?

Paul Johnson's Thought Balloon

October 11th, 2009
1:10 am

Well he does have predictable vernacular.

Not Disappointed!

October 11th, 2009
1:11 am

Cuz, you’re a classy act. I wish there were more Jackets and Bulldogs like you. Have a good nite. You will see me on the dawg blog to encourage not bash.

Great Game Jackets. Wife kicked me out of the bed because Wes was loud on the radio.lol

Ramblin Wreck tired!

Supersize that order, mutt

October 11th, 2009
1:11 am

I knew you weren’t making them up. Bowden and the two stupid announcers tonight are the only people on earth who think we run the wishbone.

Coastal Division

October 11th, 2009
1:11 am

The Hokies better be ready to rumble with Nesbitt ,,,,,, THE MAN

fatdawg

October 11th, 2009
1:11 am

My gawd Bobby….get in the bed. Get in the bed Bobby, you’re nearly 80 years old. Munson has long been sleeping by 1 AM.

Mark Bradley

October 11th, 2009
1:11 am

Bowden didn’t mention Tech’s D. He just trashed his own D.

Tampa Wreck

October 11th, 2009
1:12 am

I agree with everything except the junkyard dog comment.. That was a low blow. Thanks for staying up with us all night Mark.

And yes Josh was definitely the man tonight.. He doesn’t alway make the best reads. His passes are not always accurate. He’s a little sloppy with the ball sometimes, but the guy definitely has a heart as bid as a watermelon. I’ll take that any day.

Jon

October 11th, 2009
1:12 am

Wow, what a great game. Didn’t think it would be this close but whew….

Joe Schmoe

October 11th, 2009
1:12 am

Ernest, too true! No pass rush whatsoever.

Cuz

October 11th, 2009
1:12 am

I think the junkyard dog reference was a compliment. Except he spelled Dawg wrong. Heck Mark is tired. I will cut him some slack.

21

October 11th, 2009
1:12 am

A great win. After watching games from noon past midnight, the only defensive players from Georgia that I saw make any great or even good plays were playing for Tennessee or Florida. At least we have a great offense with a great plan.

Rocket City Jacket

October 11th, 2009
1:12 am

GO JACKETS, spread option and CPJ! THWG! THWVT! THWF$U!