September 20, 2014
Field goal on final play lifts Georgia Tech past Hokies
By Jimmy Robertson
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Georgia Tech (4-0) 3701727
Virginia Tech (2-2) 3130824
  • Lane/Worsham Field - 62,318
  • Passing: Michael Brewer 297 yds
  • Rushing: Shai McKenzie 51 yds
  • Receiving: Isaiah Ford 114 yds

BLACKSBURG – Georgia Tech kicker Harrison Butker hit a 24-yard field goal on the final play of the game to lift the Yellow Jackets past Virginia Tech 27-24 at Lane Stadium on Saturday in the ACC opener for both teams.

The loss marked the second straight for the Hokies (2-2, 0-1 ACC), who saw their four-game winning streak over Georgia Tech end. The Yellow Jackets moved to 4-0 on the season, 1-0 in league play.

Too many big plays by Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas, too many penalties and too many turnovers proved to be the Hokies’ undoing.

“We’re just not playing Virginia Tech football right now,” Hokies head coach Frank Beamer said. “We’re not doing the things we know how to do, have done, should do … I don’t think it’s effort by any stretch of the imagination. We’ve just got to do some things better. We’ve got to step up and make plays when we need them.

“We need to take another look at this one and see how many times we could have won the football game. We just needed one more play.”

The Hokies appeared to be in control after quarterback Michael Brewer scored on a bizarre 21-yard run with 8:03 remaining. Following alertly behind a Marshawn Williams run, Brewer picked up a fumble by Williams at the Georgia Tech 21 and went the distance. Brewer’s two-point conversion pass to Bucky Hodges gave the Hokies a 24-17 lead.

But Georgia Tech answered by scoring the final 10 points of the game. A 67-yard drive ended when Thomas threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Smelter with 2:03 remaining that tied the game at 24. But arguably the biggest play came when Georgia Tech converted on fourth-and-15 after Thomas hit Smelter for a 19-yard gain to the Virginia Tech 31.

On the first play of the Hokies’ ensuing drive, Brewer threw a pass that was picked off by Georgia Tech’s D.J. White at the Virginia Tech 40, and that set up the Yellow Jackets’ winning drive. Georgia Tech drove to the Hokies 5-yard line and called a timeout with 2 seconds left after Thomas lost 2 yards while getting the placement of the football in the center of the field. Butker then came on and hit the game winner.

The Hokies lost despite racking up 424 yards of offense. Brewer threw three interceptions, and those three turnovers led to 17 Georgia Tech points. Brewer completed 28-of-39 for 297 yards for the game, with three interceptions and no touchdowns.

“The last interception was a bad decision,” Brewer said. “The corner came up and pressed on the hitch route and then bailed late. He baited me to throw it over top of him and made a good play.

“It’s something I’ve got to get better at. You take those three throws away, and we had a good football game. But the thing is I made those three throws, and it cost us the football game. It’s over with, and you’ve got to move forward.”

The Hokies also hurt themselves with penalties, committing 12 of them. Four were illegal substitution penalties on the offense in which players were going on or coming off the field late. Beamer described those as “awful.”

“We’re going to get that right,” he said.

Isaiah Ford caught eight passes for 114 yards for the Hokies, while Willie Byrn caught seven for 56 yards and Cam Phillips caught six for 79.

Thomas accounted for the majority of the Yellow Jackets’ offense. He rushed for 165 yards on 22 carries and scored a touchdown and he threw for 125 yards and a score. Smelter caught five passes for 101 yards.

“To me, you learn from your mistakes,” Beamer said. “We’re plenty capable. I think our side of the division is wide open, and right now, we’ve got to get back to playing the way we should. Then I think everything is going to be okay. We just need to be a better football team.”

The Hokies will look to stop their FBS losing streak at home – they’ve lost four straight dating back to last season – next Saturday when they take on Western Michigan. Kickoff is slated for 12:30 p.m.

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