Marshall, Jackets pin tough loss on Hokies
atlanta — TaQuon Marshall threw a pair of long scoring passes, including an 80-yarder to Ricky Jeune with 61/2 minutes remaining, and Ajani Kerr swatted away a fourth-down pass in the end zone to preserve Georgia Tech’s 28-22 upset of No. 17 Virginia Tech on Saturday.
It looked as if Georgia Tech (5-4, 4-3 ACC) was heading for defeat when Virginia Tech rallied from a 21-9 deficit in the second half.
The Hokies (7-3, 3-3) went ahead 22-21 when Greg Stroman returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown off a terrible pass by Marshall with 7:27 left.
But the Georgia Tech quarterback made up for his mistake just two snaps later, after the Yellow Jackets fumbled the kickoff but managed to recover after a wild scramble. Jeune got loose behind the secondary, hauled in the long throw and just managed to stick the ball inside the pylon before tumbling out of bounds.
It was the longest touchdown pass of the season for the Yellow Jackets, surpassing Marshall’s 60-yard scoring play to Brad Stewart early in the second half. The quarterback finished 2-for-8 passing out of the triple-option.
Marshall also had a pair of short touchdown runs.
On its final possession, Virginia Tech converted a pair of fourth-down plays and faced third and one at the Georgia Tech 32 with plenty of time to deal the home team another tough loss.
But Virginia Tech Coach Justin Fuente called a pair of passes rather than running for the first down. Both were incomplete, including a deep pass down the middle for Cam Phillips that Kerr knocked away.
“We got the best matchup we could possibly get,” Fuente said. “That was as good a look as we were going to get.”
The Yellow Jackets rushed for 261 yards, led by KirVonte Benson with 86 yards on 22 carries. Nathan Cottrell had a 69-yard run, setting up Georgia Tech’s first touchdown, a three-yard run by Marshall. The quarterback also punched it over from the 1.
Georgia Tech appeared to be driving for a clinching touchdown late in the third quarter. But a chop-block penalty against center Kenny Cooper knocked the Yellow Jackets back 15 yards, and Brenton King missed a 43yard field goal attempt.
The Hokies took advantage — with a big helping hand from Georgia Tech.
On third and 14, Josh Jackson threw a pass into heavy coverage. A.J. Gray and Lamont Simmons both had a shot at picking it off but wound up tipping the ball to Eric Kumah for a 26-yard completion.
Jalen Holston’s eight-yard touchdown run on the final play of the third quarter brought the Hokies within 21-16.
Trailing 7-3 in the second quarter, the Virginia Tech decided to go for it on fourth and two at the 8. Backup quarterback AJ Bush attempted to run right, spun back to the left and was thrown for a three-yard loss.
Later in the period, after Sean Savoy scored on a 14-yard run to pull the Hokies within 14-9, Fuente decided to go for a two-point conversion. Again, Virginia Tech was stopped, leaving Georgia Tech with a 14-9 halftime lead.