Jackets lose seventh consecutive game to UGA, 31-17
By Jason Ossey / Student Publications
Tech lost its seventh consecutive game to rival Georgia last Saturday, 31-17.
Running back Tashard Choice led the offense, carrying the ball 25 times for 134 yards. He was one of 15 seniors playing on Senior Day, the last home game for the Jackets. It was his eighth 100-yard game of the season and the eighteenth of his career.
Despite the strong rushing performance, the team continued to have troubles in the passing game. On Tech's second offensive play, quarterback Taylor Bennett threw a deep pass straight into the hands of wide receiver Correy Earls, who bobbled the pass and then dropped it.
"When you don't get a couple of them, does it hurt your team? Sure it does. You think you've got a big play and then all of a sudden you don't...Everybody is excited, but all of a sudden you're down. It takes its toll," said former Head Coach Chan Gailey.
Bennett did not have a good day, finishing 9-for-27 for 137 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He did not start at the beginning of the second half because he was injured on the second to last play of the first half. After the game, he was taken in for x-rays on his hand.
"I thought he did some good things early. When he got banged up he fought through it in the second half," Gailey said.
The game was defined by the opportunities on which Tech failed to capitalize on. On two kick returns, a UGA player fumbled the ball into the end zone. On both plays, they recovered for a touchback.
On another play, Morgan Burnett picked up a botched backwards pass from Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford and ran with it towards the endzone. As he was rushing towards a sure touchdown, he was tackled and fumbled the ball into the endzone, leaving the ball up for grabs again. The ball was eventually kicked out of bounds and declared a touchback.
"I saw that the guy missed the pass and that it was a live ball, scooped it up and ran with it. I started to lose my footing, and should have done a better job of just holding onto the ball. That's my fault for not holding on to the ball," Burnett said.
Although the defense had constant pressure on Matthew Stafford, they produced only one sack. They limited star running back Knowshon Moreno to only 45 yards on 17 carries, but allowed several large rushing plays. During Georgia's first offensive drive of the second half, Stafford faked a handoff and ran straight up the middle for a 31-yard touchdown.
"I felt so slow on that. I was running, and I guess I had a decent fake and everybody took off with everybody else, so there was nobody there. It felt like it took me a month to get into the end zone," Stafford said.
Georgia running back Thomas Brown rushed for 139 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown. He was the first back since Virginia's Cedric Peerman to rush for over 100 yards.
"We focused on Moreno, and they snuck in Brown. He got a lot of yards," said Tech middle linebacker Philip Wheeler.
Tech was able to answer that touchdown with a drive that saw Bennett throw his seventh touchdown of the season and had the Jackets taking a 14-10 lead. Georgia came back to score a touchdown on a 51 second drive. The drive was sustained when a pass interference penalty was called on Burnett.
"I felt that it was a good play on my part. The referee didn't give me an explanation as to what I did....After the call, though, I just had to get it back together and play the next down and move on," Burnett said.
Stafford completed a 9-yard pass to wide receiver Mohammed Massaquoi for the touchdown. After a rare missed PAT by Georgia kicker Brandon Coutu, the two teams headed into the locker room with Georgia leading 16-14. The first half saw four lead changes, but Tech was unable to catch up in the second.
Though the game was in reach for most of the second half, the game was all but over when Brown ran the ball 32-yards for a touchdown and Georgia converted a two point conversion to give the team a 31-17 lead. On the next drive, Bennett was unable to get the ball to receiver Greg Smith on fourth-and-eight at the Georgia 20, effectively ending all hope of a comeback.
Tech falls to 38-59-5 in the series and has matched its longest losing streak at seven.
"Whenever you are playing a good team, and Georgia is always a good team, they always have talent on both sides of the ball. And, when you don't capitalize in certain situations, you will lose the game every time," Choice said.
The team now enters an uncertain period of waiting for a bowl selection. Many have indicated that it is likely Tech will go to one of three bowls: the Emerald Bowl in San Franciso, the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl in Nashville or the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise.