Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington dives on the ball to regain possession while under pressure during the first half of Monday night’s game. Washington threw a crucial interception in overtime, and Virginia Tech rallied to win the season opener, 20-17.
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Tevin Washington came very close to leading Georgia Tech to a dramatic comeback.
And when Cody Journell's field goal to end regulation and another in overtime gave No. 16 Virginia Tech a 20-17 victory, Washington knew how close the Yellow Jackets came to the upset.
"It was like an Ali-Frazier fight," he said. "We kind of got it together in the second half and started moving the ball. We were one play here and there from just busting the game open."
That might be a bit optimistic considering the Yellow Jackets' triple option managed 288 yards, but they almost pulled a stunning upset thanks to their quarterback, whose reputation has been mostly built as a runner, but who was pretty strong with his arm when his team needed him.
Washington hit Deon Hill with a 10-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds left in regulation, stunning the sellout crowd.
Four plays earlier, he'd been flushed from the pocket on a fourth-and-6 play from the Hokies 37, and after eluding a pass rusher, he found B.J. Bostic with three defenders around him for a 19-yard gain on the right sideline to keep the drive alive.
"He made some great plays on the last drive in regulation," Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson, who is 1-4 against the Hokies, said of his QB.
But he also made one that cost the Yellow Jackets the game.
Georgia Tech got the ball first in overtime, but Washington threw the ball away under pressure on third down and was intercepted by Kyle Fuller.
When Michael Holmes ran for 6 and then 18 yards on Virginia Tech's first two plays in the extra period, all that was left was to make sure they set the ball up in the middle of the field for Journell to knock it through. His 17-yard field goal won it 20-17.
"We kind of gift-wrapped it for them in overtime," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said of the game's only turnover.
The Hokies, who had gone ahead 14-10 on Thomas' 42-yard scoring pass to Demitri Knowles with 7:46 to play, got the ball back after Washington's touchdown pass and drove to the Yellow Jackets 24 with 6 seconds remaining.
Georgia Tech used a timeout to try to ice Journell, but his kick went through the uprights to tie it at 17.
Fans, most of whom came clad in orange, didn't even wait for the officials to signal the kick good, but took their cues from the reactions of those with a better view and were already celebrating having scored more points in the last 7:46 than the first 52:14.
Before the offensive flurry in the fourth quarter, the game was a punting contest that turned on a punt that went awry.
Georgia Tech had managed just two first downs when Hokies freshman punter A.J. Hughes set them up with a mistake.
Dropped back in punt formation near midfield, he let a snap go through his hands and scrambled to fall on it for a 22-yard loss.
That put the Yellow Jackets at the Hokies 24, and three runs tied it. On the 12-yard touchdown, Robert Godhigh went wide around the left side, dodged defenders, broke several tackles and scored easily, making it 7-7.
The mistake seemed to knock the Hokies off their stride, and neither team threatened the rest of the half.
The Yellow Jackets finally started moving the ball and went ahead 10-7 on a 34-yard field goal by David Scully to start the fourth quarter.
The score came after a 15-play, 56-yard drive that not only took 7:18 off the clock, but included three short third-down conversions and left the Hokies defenders looking as if the high humidity was finally starting to wear them down.
After falling behind, Thomas and the offense finally gave the defense a break, driving from their 23 to the Yellow Jackets 21 in 11 plays, but Journell missed from 38 yards.
The rested Hokies didn't let it keep them down long, holding the Yellow Jackets and forcing a punt.
This time, Thomas worked quickly. He hit Marcus Davis for 35 yards on second down, and when Davis fumbled the ball at the end of the run, Corey Fuller recovered at the Yellow Jackets 42.
On the next play, Thomas hit speedy wide receiver Demitri Knowles for the touchdown in the right corner, his first career reception.
Knowles beat Rod Sweeting, who also was called for pass interference on the play.