No. 12 Georgia Tech loses to Virginia 24-21

Tevin Washington tried to take the blame for Georgia Tech’s

offense bogging down after one signature drive to open the second

half.

It wasn’t all on him, not by a long shot.

Washington had an 85-yard touchdown run and a 66-yard pass to

Orwin Smith to Virginia’s 14 yard-line in the second half both

wiped out by block in the back penalties, and No. 12 Georgia Tech

lost for the first time this season, falling 24-21 to Virginia on

Saturday.

”The penalties killed us,” Washington said after trying to

accept the blame for failing to put together a go-ahead drive in

the fourth quarter. ”Georgia Tech killed Georgia Tech.”

The defense didn’t help much, allowing the Cavaliers to rush for

272 yards, outgain them 407-296 and hold the ball for the final 6

minutes while driving down the field.

”I’m frustrated, just as frustrated as I am with the offense,”

coach Paul Johnson said of the 3-4 defense, which has former

Virginia coach Al Groh as its coordinator. ”We are not good enough

to have penalties and kill ourselves and they did exactly what they

needed to do.”

Perry Jones ran for 149 of Virginia’s 272 yards, including a

pair of 11-yard first-down runs on the final drive, which ended

with Michael Rocco taking a knee on the game’s final play.

Kevin Parks also had a 10-yard run on the drive, helping the

Cavaliers convert after a penalty put them into a first-and-16

situation at their own 39. Virginia converted the first down when

Rocco hit Jones with a short pass he turned into an 18-yard gain on

third-and-6.

”That’s the way everyone is going to play us,” Johnson said.

”They are going to run the ball and hold the ball. They were able

to get ahead and, in the end, it worked.”

The Cavaliers (4-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) made five

first downs on the final drive, and when Rocco took a knee,

thousand of fans surged onto the field at Scott Stadium.

Georgia Tech (6-1, 3-1), off to its best start since 1966, came

in with one of the nation’s top offenses, but it was held to just

two pass completions and a season-low 296 yards by a Virginia

defense that made the most of an extra week to prepare for the

tricky triple option.

Kevin Parks ran for one touchdown for Virginia, Rocco hit Tim

Smith for a 37-yarder and Clifton Richardson had a 22-yard run, all

in the first half, as Virginia built a 24-14 lead.

Georgia Tech almost struck very quickly to start the second

half, with Tevin Washington running 85 yards on the first play from

scrimmage, but the play was called back by a penalty.

The Yellow Jackets then did it the hard way, using 19 plays and

converting two fourth-and-1 plays and a fourth-and-5 before

Washington scored on a 1-yard run. The fourth-and-5 was initially a

fourth-and-10, but defensive tackle Nick Jenkins was called for

being offsides, and Washington ran for 23 yards on the next play to

the Cavaliers’ 5 and scored two plays later.

The teams traded punts the rest of the way until Virginia took

over at its 23 with just under 6 minutes left. Jones started with

runs of 11 and eight yards, caught an 18-yard pass from Rocco to

convert a third-and-6 from the Virginia 49 and the Cavaliers never

gave it up.

Virginia gained 407 yards against former coach Al Groh’s 3-4

defense.

Washington finished with 115 yards on 26 carries, but was

2-for-8 passing for 24 yards.

The Yellow Jackets erased a 14-0 deficit with two touchdowns in

98 seconds in the second quarter. Washington capped an 80-yard

drive with a 7-yard touchdown run, and Rod Sweeting intercepted a

Rocco pass three plays later and returned in 32 yards for the tying

touchdown.

Freshman David Watford came on at quarterback for one series for

Virginia, and led a 72-yard scoring drive with a big assist from

Richardson, also a freshman. He bulled his way for a first down on

third-and-1, and also carried it the last 22 yards for the go-ahead

touchdown.

When Chase Minnifield intercepted a deep pass by Washington on

the ensuing series, Rocco came back and led them 41 yards in eight

plays to Robert Randolph’s 36-yard field goal.

Virginia struck quickly at the start with two touchdowns in the

first 8:20.

The Cavaliers drove 73 yards after the opening kickoff, a drive

kept alive by Rocco’s 14-yard pass to Jones on third-and-4 from the

Yellow Jackets’ 42 and his 8-yard pass to Tim Smith on third-and-3

from the 23. Two plays later, Parks took it in from the 6, his

seventh score.

The Yellow Jackets were penalized twice on their opening series,

riling up the small crowd at Scott Stadium, and when Rocco hit

Smith for 37 yards and a 14-0 lead, it got really loud.