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Georgia Tech Putting it All Together

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Over the game's final 39 minutes and change, Georgia Tech outscored its visitors 21-0. The real measure of separation might have been even more one-sided.

We like that. We like having those long drives getting the defense tired and letting our defense rest on the sidelines.
~Robert Godhigh

In last season's 68-50 triumph over North Carolina, Georgia Tech needed an offensive performance that was off the charts to get the win. Saturday's outcome just needed time. Though much less dramatic, this past weekend's 28-20 victory ultimately fit the grand design for a team built to function as one. Despite falling behind two scores early, everybody, for the Yellow Jackets, was on the same page. A detailed look inside the Georgia Tech box score shows just how together the home team truly was.

For the final two-and-half quarters, game three was close to perfection for Paul Johnson. The debilitating, demoralizing nature of his triple-option offense was on clear display, as was the corresponding impact it can have on a well-rested defensive unit. Over the game's final 39 minutes and change, the Yellow Jackets outscored their visitors 21-0. The real measure of separation might have been even more one-sided.

Georgia Tech, on its final half-dozen offensive possessions, did not have a single three-and-out. North Carolina, on its last six, did not score a single point. The Yellow amassed 319 total yards during that span. The Tar Heels, their final play before the half included, compiled 58. 

A 12-play, 80-yard drive at the end of the second quarter stands as the stretch that turned the game around for the Yellow Jackets. Quarterback Vad Lee was 4-of-4 passing for 56 yards and a touchdown. After a third-down conversion run by B-back David Sims, Lee found receiver Darren Waller on a 21-yard strike. The score trimmed the GT deficit to just six points.

"I thought the momentum changed when we were able to take that last drive right before half and go down and score. That cut it to one score and we knew that we were getting the ball first," Johnson acknowledged. "And once we got the lead we found a renewed energy and we played a lot better defensively and offensively for that matter."

Over the final two quarters, Georgia Tech's two units played equally well. The offense had drives of nine, eleven and 13 plays, with the game's final score coming on a 92-yard march. The defense allowed North Carolina to cross over midfield just one time, and that drive ended in an interception. Including penalties, the Tar Heels had zero total yards in the third quarter. The Yellow Jackets held UNC quarterback Bryn Renner to just four second half completions.

"I think we just got a lot more aggressive instead of waiting to give a punch to them," explained cornerback Louis Young, who intercepted Renner. "There were a couple of balls in the air early that I thought we could have made plays on and I think in the second half we dug deep, leaned on each other, and got aggressive in the pass game."

As the game progressed, Georgia Tech's consistent offensive play allowed their defense time to refresh. End Jeremiah Attaochu, who had a key 10-yard sack, was one of multiple front seven players who seemed to get stronger as the afternoon went on. With limited opportunities, North Carolina's offense was left tense and hurried. All but one of their second half drives were either three or four and outs.     

The final possession for the Yellow Jackets was one that left the Tar Heels helpless. Taking over at their own 28-yard line with 6:27 to play, Georgia Tech ran out the clock with a dominant 13-play drive where not a single pass was thrown. Lee, Sims, A-backs Robert Godhigh and Tony Zenon and B-back Zach Laskey drove the football down to inside the North Carolina redzone. The game finished just as the Yellow Jackets had hoped.  

"We like that," nodded Godhigh. "We like having those long drives getting the defense tired and letting our defense rest on the sidelines."

To date, the Yellow Jackets are the only team in the ACC with two conference wins. Come Thursday night in Atlanta, Georgia Tech will look for their third league victory of the season as rival Virginia Tech visits town. Either the Yellow Jackets or Hokies have represented the ACC Coastal Division in each ACC Championship Game played. The winner here will join Miami as the early favorite. Georgia Tech, as a team, has already joined hands.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports