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.