Fast Analysis: Georgia Tech vs Virginia

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Fast Analysis: Georgia Tech vs Virginia
Place kicker Wesley Wells #38 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets celebrates with teammates after kicking a field goal during the fourth quarter in their game against the Virginia Cavaliers at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

Georgia Tech and Virginia did not disappoint on Saturday evening in Atlanta. Each half was filled with big momentum plays that mark a great Saturday afternoon thriller. Fans were even treated to some free football on Senior Day at Bobby Dodd. And to top it all off, Georgia Tech won their fourth game in a row and guaranteed Paul Johnson a stay in Atlanta.

Fast Analysis: Georgia Tech vs. Virginia

So how did Tech perform in their 30-27 victory against Virginia? Let’s discuss in our eleventh edition of Fast Analysis: Georgia Tech 2018.

First Half

Offense

TaQuon Marshall and the Georgia Tech offense were efficient enough on Saturday to keep the Yellow Jackets competitive throughout the game. The starting offense only managed to produce field goals during the first half.

TaQuon Marshall was able to lead the offense on some promising drives, but Paul Johnson and team had to settle for three points. This, undoubtedly, was a disappointing half for the seniors on offense: TaQuon Marshall, Qua Searcy, Brad Stewart, Clinton Lynch and Andrew Marshall. This offensive unit has been special, and regardless of the first half woes, Georgia Tech fans should consider themselves lucky to have watched these players throughout the years.

Fast Analysis: Georgia Tech vs Virginia
Running back Qua Searcy #1 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets looks to escape a tackle by linebacker Jordan Mack #37 of the Virginia Cavaliers during the second quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

The offense would finish the first half with 161 yards. The second half trek to reach the 400+ yards the offense has averaged this season would prove difficult. The offense would enter halftime down by five, 21-16.

Defense

The defense provided all of the sizzle for the Yellow Jackets in the first half. Unfortunately, they also allowed the Cavaliers to score three touchdowns, and enter halftime with the lead. Fortunately, football games have four quarters. Some of them even go in to overtime!

The most exciting sequence of events in the first half occurred after Pressley Harvin III pinned the Cavaliers at their own one yard line. Two plays later, Brant Mitchell sacked Bryce Perkins in the end zone for a safety. Leave it to the senior defensive captain to make the big play on Senior Day.

The defense would allow the Cavaliers to gain 237 yards in the first half. The three touchdown drives looked like this:

  • Eight plays, 74 yards, TOUCHDOWN
  • Six plays, 75 yards, TOUCHDOWN
  • 10 plays, 77 yards, TOUCHDOWN

The Cavaliers averaged 75 yards on scoring drives in the first half. Nate Woody and the defensive unit only needed the halftime break to figure out how to stop the Cavaliers high powered offense.

Special Teams

Wesley Wells and Pressley Harvin III were busy men in the first half on Saturday. Wesley Wells successfully converted two field goals in the first half – keeping Georgia Tech within striking distance for the second half.

Pressley Harvin III set up the sack by Brant Mitchell in the first quarter. His second punt also pinned the Cavaliers within their own 20 yard line. Special Teams would not stop their influence in the first 30 minutes of the game on Saturday.

But the biggest special teams play came right after the defensive safety. During the ensuing punt, Juanyeh Thomas returned the punt 77 yards for a special teams touchdown. This would be the only touchdown scored by Georgia Tech in the first half.

Second Half

Offense

The first half woes would continue for the offense in the second half. While the offense would manage to score their first touchdown of the game, it would not come until the fourth quarter.

The second half offensive possessions looked like this:

  • Nine plays, 55 yards, TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • Three plays, seven yards, PUNT
  • 11 plays, 41 yards, TOUCHDOWN
  • Seven plays, 44 yards, FIELD GOAL

The Cavaliers offense would control the time of possession in the second half, keeping the ball out of the hands of the Georgia Tech offense. But when it mattered, Georgia Tech’s offense would come through in the clutch. The offense needed to score 11 points in the second half to tie, and the offense scored 11 points in the second half. They also converted a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter to put themselves within a field goal of tying the game.

Fast Analysis: Georgia Tech vs Virginia
Running back Clinton Lynch #22 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets runs the ball in for a 2 point conversion in front of cornerback Bryce Hall #34 of the Virginia Cavaliers during the forth quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

Ultimately, it would be special teams that saved the day, but Brad Stewart made the best catch of his career in the fourth quarter. Stewart’s 37 yard catch came on a third and six with less than five minutes left in the game. This would be the drive that put the Yellow Jackets up three with 64 seconds left in the game. *Sportscenter Top Ten Music*

The offense would finish the day with 305 yards – 132.5 yards shy of their season average. But, the Yellow Jackets came away with the victory, and that is what matters at the end of the day.

Defense

Nate Woody’s defense came up big in the second half. Thankfully the defense played with short memories and was able to hold the Cavaliers to six points in the second half.

The defense would hold Virginia to 139 yards in the second half. Unfortunately, 122 of the 139 yards would come during the Cavalier’s final two possessions. And when the Georgia Tech defense had an opportunity to end the game in regulation, they allowed Virginia to move the ball 52 yards and score a field goal with one second left in regulation.

That being said, the halftime adjustments made by Nate Woody and the defense gave the offense the opportunity to score just enough points to send the game into overtime. This writer would consider the second half a major victory for the Yellow Jacket’s defense.

The senior defensive players for the 2018 Yellow Jackets include: Brant Mitchell, Lamont Simmons, Anree Saint-Amour, Malik Rivera, Victor Alexander, Desmond Branch, Kyle Cerge-Henderson, Tre’ Jackson, Jalen Johnson, and Antonio Mallard. Needless to say, next years defense will look much different. This 2018 defensive crew showed so much grit and leadership all while learning a new defensive scheme.

 

Special Teams

Wow! That is the best way to describe Wesley Wells’ play during Saturday’s contest. Georgia Tech was begging for a clutch kicker after the first month of the season, after the failed Brenton King experiment, and Wells answered the call. Wells would account for 12 of the 30 points scored by the Yellow Jackets on Saturday. Wells would also kick the game-winning field goal in overtime for good measure.

How Fans Are Feeling Now

Optimistic and forgiving. Optimistic that the Yellow Jackets can beat the Bulldogs for the third straight time at Sanford Stadium next week. Fans are also feeling a great sense of forgiveness for their head coach, Paul Johnson, right now. Those disgusted glances and negative tweets from September have been washed away by the power of winning. Fans will definitely see Paul Johnson on the sideline next year, unless he retires.

Seriously, who would have thought at the end of September that Georgia Tech would be sitting in second place in the coastal division, behind Pittsburgh, and looking at a pretty descent bowl game in December? Not this writer. The level of play that fans saw in September was depressing, to say the least. But kudos to Coach Paul Johnson and this team for not giving up on themselves when it seemed that the rest of us had called it quits. My bad, team!

Win or lose next week, this team deserves respect.

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