In this Tech-Tech slugfest, the Jackets are undone by a punch

Georgia Tech's Tevin Washington scored three touchdowns. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Georgia Tech's Tevin Washington scored three touchdowns. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Technically speaking, this wasn’t the ACC championship game, but you can’t go wrong assuming the winner between the Techs will play for the conference title. It has happened every year the league has staged a championship game, and it figures to happen in 2011, too.

But which Tech might it be this time? The one that was ranked in preseason and is ranked still, or the one that began play unranked, worked its way to No. 12 in the polls, fell out after two ugly road losses but wedged its way back after upsetting No. 5 Clemson? The former is officially known as the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the latter as the Georgia Institute of Technology. For purposes of space, we’ll call them Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.

For a series only in its ninth installment, this has become a corker. The past three meetings — those since Paul Johnson arrived here — had been decided by a total of 15 points. What transpired Thursday night at a not-quite-full Bobby Dodd Stadium was more of the same. One Tech got ahead. Then the other Tech did. Then the first Tech scored 16 consecutive points to retake the lead. Wild, wacky stuff.

Details? Sure. Georgia Tech led 7-0. Then Virginia Tech went ahead 14-7. Then Georgia Tech kicked a field goal to draw within four points. Then — shades of the Miami game — the Jackets allowed a touchdown inside the half’s final minute. The Hokies led 21-10 and seemed to have taken control. But no.

Georgia Tech drove 61 yards in 44 seconds to a catalytic field goal as the half expired. Then the Jackets, aided by a Virginia Tech personal foul, opened the second half with a drive to one touchdown. The Hokies’ lead was two points. Virginia Tech moved inside the GT 20, at which point Julian Burnett smacked the ball from David Wilson’s grasp. Soon Georgia Tech was ahead by five points and poised to throw a hammerlock on the proceedings, whereupon linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu threw a punch.

The Jackets had stopped Virginia Tech. Attaochu was about to complete a third-down sack of quarterback Logan Thomas. But Thomas, who weighs 254 pounds — 31 more than Attaochu — didn’t go down, and Hokies linemen rushed to his aid, and Attaochu wound up taking a swing at an opponent. He was flagged for a personal foul; he was lucky he wasn’t ejected, and he might yet face a suspension.

To his credit, Attaochu didn’t t dabble in denial afterward. “It was an overdose of adrenaline,” he said. “There’s no excuse for it.”

Said Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech’s coach: “The big penalty kind of changed the game.”

Handed its mulligan, Virginia Tech did what a good team is supposed to do. It fashioned a drive that changed the careening game yet again. The massive Thomas scored on, of all things, a 12-yard quarterback sneak, and the Hokies were back ahead. Then Paul Johnson did the Paul Johnson thing and went for it on fourth down on the wrong side of midfield — at the Tech 31, to be exact — and Tevin Washington was halted.

“Maybe we could have called a better play,” Johnson said. “But we didn’t execute the play that was called very well, either.”

Why had he gone for it? “I felt like we needed to score. From the second possession of the game, we couldn’t stop them.”

Again the Hokies took their windfall and cashed it in. A Thomas touchdown pass made it an eight-point game. Washington slipped and fell trying to pass on third down, and Georgia Tech had to punt. By now Virginia Tech’s offensive line was pushing the Jackets’ defense backward, just as had happened over the final 10 minutes of the first half, and a field goal with 3:02 to play pushed the Hokie lead to 37-26.

And that was that. A crackling game had, at least for the home side, fizzled at the end. The winning Tech is again in playing-for-a-championship mode, while the losing Tech has been eliminated from the division race. To be blunt, Virginia Tech seemed the more talented team for much of the game, but Georgia Tech will long wonder what would have happened had Jeremiah Attaochu kept his hands to himself.

By Mark Bradley

534 comments Add your comment

Nelson Muntz

November 10th, 2011
11:15 pm

First for once?

Hilarious

November 10th, 2011
11:17 pm

What if I told you there was a UGA grad who was a lawyer

All Cupcake Conference

November 10th, 2011
11:17 pm

Going for it on 4th down was dumb.

But because CPJ is a genius I guess he gets a pass.

some hokie

November 10th, 2011
11:17 pm

throwing a punch at a qb, really? that guy should have been ejected

south

November 10th, 2011
11:18 pm

CPJ needs to be fired at season end.

The punch wasn’t as big as the 4th down call from the 31.

G

November 10th, 2011
11:18 pm

That one play did not cost GT the game. That is ridiculous to insinuate that. It was a big play but there was a lot of time left. VT recovered from the Wilson fumble inside the 15 but GT could not recover… That is the story

NewnanDawg

November 10th, 2011
11:18 pm

I was pullin’ for Tech. #45 is an idiot

Hilarious

November 10th, 2011
11:18 pm

And joked about his mormon boss.

CPJ Stinks

November 10th, 2011
11:18 pm

Yes the punch was bad .. BUT … home CPJ blew it .. going for it on 4th down at own 30 with defense tired from previous series? … stupid, ignorant decision … CPJ is just not a winner. For $2M a year we deserve a winning coach.

NewnanDawg

November 10th, 2011
11:18 pm

Georgia Tech that is

North Ave Killer Beez

November 10th, 2011
11:18 pm

I guess we should just join Conf-Usa or the WAC where 280lb noseguards can stop the run…. is VAD LEE on campus yet :(

yellow fever

November 10th, 2011
11:19 pm

Fire CPJ or expect to never win the ACC again!

CPJ Stinks

November 10th, 2011
11:19 pm

Been saying for years .. CPJ is JUST NOT A WINNER. HE MUST GO!!!!!

hand solo

November 10th, 2011
11:19 pm

to all the bulldog trolls on here allready, please go straight to hell

JP

November 10th, 2011
11:20 pm

Please fire this coach and get a real one…he calls the same plays over and over…the most boring offense and coach in the country.

Hilarious

November 10th, 2011
11:20 pm

And took pictures from inside his office.

still a jacket fan

November 10th, 2011
11:20 pm

we’re not good enough to beat teams that don’t help us by beating themselves. Go back and look at the NC St, Maryland, and Clemson games. wide open receivers dropping passes, turnovers, penalties by our opponents kept us in those games. VT kept us in this game with a big fumble. once they realized they didn’t have to do anything fancy, it was all over.

North Ave Killer Beez

November 10th, 2011
11:20 pm

Yea that peronal foul was horrific, was he really that pissed because he couldn’t sling him down… some one slit my throat please wtf????

CPJ Stinks

November 10th, 2011
11:21 pm

CPJ … IGNORANT IRGNORANT IGNORANT … alumni its time to rid of this guy .. NOW. empty seats, boring football and STUPID coaching .. he MUST go

fbGuy

November 10th, 2011
11:21 pm

CPJ is a nutcase. Tech is a synonym for loser.

ty webb

November 10th, 2011
11:21 pm

so Bradley is scapegoating a college kid? last I checked that punch didn’t rush for 170+ yds…or throw for 200 yds…or go for it on 4th down on it’s own 30…who knew PJ needed his water carried so much?

Hilarious

November 10th, 2011
11:21 pm

A lawyer who frequently makes homophobic comments and tells people to eat a _____

Supersize that order, mutt

November 10th, 2011
11:21 pm

And here come the vultures to feast on this mess. See you losers later.

All Cupcake Conference

November 10th, 2011
11:22 pm

Hey guys ,,,

When is the next whiteout?

Nelson Muntz

November 10th, 2011
11:22 pm

I’m sure there’s some arrogance behind CPJ’s 4th down recklessness, but his probable rationale for it tonight – my offense has a much better of chance of making this yard than my defense has of stopping their offense – is one that I wish more coaches would follow.

G

November 10th, 2011
11:22 pm

That one play did not cost GT the game. It’s ridiculous to insinuate that. There was still a lot of time left. VT bounced back from the Wilson fumble. GT did not bounce back from that mistake… That’s the story

JP

November 10th, 2011
11:22 pm

I agree #45 is an idiot and lost us the game tonight. I guess he’s really a VT player in disguise!

fbGuy

November 10th, 2011
11:22 pm

Tech fans at least know how to spell Shreveport.

Paul in NH

November 10th, 2011
11:23 pm

Mark,
Good write up. I am sure that there are going to be plenty of posters that blame a SO OLB for the loss, but mistakes are part of the game and VT earned the win.

GT Joe

November 10th, 2011
11:23 pm

Attaochu single-handedly cost us the game, the title game, and the Orange Bowl.

Idiot.

Hilarious

November 10th, 2011
11:23 pm

A lawyer who talks about getting hookers and call girls.

The Ghost

November 10th, 2011
11:23 pm

Mark,

I’ve been a life long CPJ supporter. Honestly, what I saw tonight was embarassing. It was not a slugfest. Vtech exposed us for the soft, fundamentally un-sound bunch of powder puffs that we are! How many missed tackles? Like 50? How many times did Vtech keep moving, all the while, dragging one or more of our guys who were holding on for dear life (usually holding on to their shoulders or above)? Like 25? I mean the 3 QB sneaks were a damn joke! Something has to give. CPJ, as much as I hate to admit it, will blame the players. What we saw tonight is ALL on the coaches. Poor coaching, poor recruiting, poor play calling…..just a joke!
Man I hate to finally give in on this issue, but this is as good as it will get with this staff of coaches. Something has to give. I CAN HONESTLY SAY THAT TONIGHT I AM EMBARASSED TO BE A JACKET.

yellow fever

November 10th, 2011
11:24 pm

I am sick of the same crap every year. Now nothing to play for except a slim chance of beating UGA and that is very very slim at best.

CPJ Stinks

November 10th, 2011
11:24 pm

GT fan here .. are there ANY GT fans going to defend CPJ’s 4th down on own 30 decision? .. he BLEW THE SEASON with that .. he should be fired … boring, losing GT football … time for change; NOW

GT Joe

November 10th, 2011
11:24 pm

the 4th down call wasn’t a big deal to me. Tevin not reaching for the 1st IS.

Hilarious

November 10th, 2011
11:24 pm

A lawyer who graduated from UGA who contributes to sociopathic websites.

Tech Guy

November 10th, 2011
11:24 pm

Dawg trolls – bite one. Wasn’t tonight the first chop block call of the season? I don’t remember one before. BTW, 7-3 in a “rebuilding year” ain’t too shabby.

JP

November 10th, 2011
11:25 pm

#45 lost us the game tonight…along with the coach…send him back to one of the service academies or lower tier football, he does well there…but not at this level.

SE GA Fan

November 10th, 2011
11:25 pm

Will be this as big an event with the ACC officials as it was with the SEC? I seriously doubt it will be as big with you AJC guys, but you obviously are headlining it so you don’t look like you are playing favorites between UGA and GaTech. This punch was hard enough to make the opponent’s head jerk back, but the UGA punch was mainly a tap in comparison. How are you AJC writers going to play this?

Eric C.

November 10th, 2011
11:26 pm

There is no doubt, that punch knocked the Jackets out of the race

Michael M.

November 10th, 2011
11:26 pm

I watched most of 2 half…………….2 game changers , one was the Roughing the passer call on defense of Tech and the 4 down 1 call to go for it on Techs side of the field………….those two were the ultimate outcome to the loss but also the way VT was power running the ball through Tech’s D-Line it was inevitable that they would score…Tough loss but still got to be Proud of the way the College Team has played this Season thus far !

Alabama Jack

November 10th, 2011
11:26 pm

Wasn’t tonight the first chop block call of the season?

Eric C.

November 10th, 2011
11:27 pm

Attaochu just punched VT’s ticket to the Orange Bowl

Hilarious

November 10th, 2011
11:27 pm

A lawyer who is clearly sexist (and that’s being nice in regards to his remarks about women), racist, and hates on other religions. Did I mention he graduated from UGA?

SE GA Fan

November 10th, 2011
11:27 pm

link to JP…boring was the Alabama/LSU game.

Ever Read a Resume'

November 10th, 2011
11:27 pm

You folks that are calling for Paul Johnson’s head and saying he is “not a winner” have no clue what you are talking about. He won two National Championships at Georgia Southern (should have won four actually) and turned a very average team into a great team in a very short time. He did more of the same at Navy and he’s done well at Tech also. If you can do a better job, go ahead and apply. I don’t think you’ll have any luck with that.

kb

November 10th, 2011
11:28 pm

Attachou should be suspended for a game , and PJ should be suspended for being a dumbass.
Beating Clemson was a fluke. PJ shows his minor league mentality. -18 yards offense in 4th quarter.

DMac

November 10th, 2011
11:28 pm

Dear AJC,

Let me start with this: I love Coach Paul Johnson. I love his attitude and his scowl. Having written that, I’ll write this: He can’t call a two minute drill to save his life. The game tonight was a perfect example. When faced with that final drive, and some short outs off of a three step drop or a roll out were called for, he called what his QB and offensive line cannot do; seven step drops and downfield patterns. It seems that he panics when the team is trailing with less than two minutes, and he’s done it more than once. The Georgia game two years ago was another example.
I’d love to see some short slants and skinny posts up the seam in these situations where our speedy receivers can cut loose and gain some yards after the catch. But instead, he calls either a running play, or has Tevin throw the ball deep. I know CPJ is renowned for his encyclopedic grasp of his own playbook, but it’d be nice to see him add some short to medium pass plays to it.
We’ll have to see next week whether the Jackets can regain their swagger. I certainly would hope they can do that. It’s Duke, for God’s sake. And then…well then..TO HELL WITH GEORGIA.

Thank you,
David McLeod

Hilarious

November 10th, 2011
11:28 pm

A lawyer who graduated from UGA who thinks raping girls is funny.

The Ghost

November 10th, 2011
11:29 pm

Going for 2???? Going for it on that 4th down play??????
When is it gonna stop?