Nov. 7, 2009
ATLANTA, Ga. - Josh Nesbitt's three-yard touchdown run in overtime allowed No. 10-ranked Georgia Tech to escape with a 30-27 win over Wake Forest on Saturday evening at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
With the loss, Wake Forest drops to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the ACC. Georgia Tech improves to 9-1 overall and 6-1 in conference play.
The Deacons were looking for their first victory over a top 10-ranked opponent since 1946 and nearly pulled off the feat. Wake Forest led 17-10 at halftime and pulled even at 24-24 late in the fourth quarter. The Deacons' final drive of the fourth quarter stalled at the Georgia Tech 40-yard line, sending the game into overtime--Wake Forest's second OT game of the year.
After the Deacons were forced to settle for a field goal on their opening possession of overtime, the Jackets responded with the game-winning touchdown. Tech converted a fourth-and-one at the five to set up the winning score by Nesbitt.
In the team's first meeting since the 2006 ACC Championship game in Jacksonville, Georgia Tech started out fast taking a 10-0 lead after the first quarter. However, the second quarter was all Wake Forest as the Deacons scored 17 unanswered points to take a 17-10 advantage into halftime.
The Jackets tied the game with a third-quarter score and then reclaimed the lead with a touchdown in the fourth. However, Wake Forest tied the game at 24-24 when Riley Skinner hit Devon Brown for an 11-yard touchdown pass.
Skinner and Brown hooked up for two touchdowns on the day, marking the first multiple TD game of Brown's career. Skinner hit Brown on a 20-yard scoring pass in the second quarter, giving Wake a 14-10 advantage.
Skinner completed 26 of 40 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns. He moved to within one TD pass of the school's season record, as he now has 20 on the year.
Marshall Williams led the receiving corps with eight catches for 111 yards--his second 100-yard receiving game of the season and the third of his career.
Brown caught seven passes for 62 yards, while Chris Givens finished with four catches for 52 yards.
Brandon Pendergrass led the Deacon rushing attack with 30 yards on 11 carries. Wake finished with just 28 yards rushing as a team.
Shane Popham had an outstanding day punting the ball for the Deacs. Popham punted seven times for an average of 46.1 yards per punt. He had two punts of 50+ yards and put four balls inside the Tech 20-yard line.
Brandon Ghee and Boo Robinson led the defense with nine tackles apiece. Cornerback Kenny Okoro recorded his team-leading third interception of the season in the second quarter. Okoro, who has defended a team-high 10 passes this season, returned the pick 28 yards.
Georgia Tech got on the board first, driving 50 yards on 10 plays for a 45-yard field goal by Scott Blair on the Jackets' first possession of the game.
After holding the Deacons to a three-and-out on their first offensive possession, the Yellow Jackets increased their lead to 10-0 when Preston Lyons ran it in from 31 yards out.
Wake Forest would find its rhythm from there, as the Deacons drove 82 yards on 13 plays before Kevin Harris scored on a one-yard touchdown run. The TD was set up by a Georgia Tech penalty. Wake was stopped at the Tech two-yard line and attempted a 19-yard field goal.
The attempt by Jimmy Newman was good, but the Yellow Jacket ran into Newman, giving Wake a first-and-goal at the one. Harris, who had missed the previous six games due to injury, took it in from there.
After a defensive stop, the Deacons took the lead when Skinner hit Brown for a 20-yard scoring pass. The TD capped an eight-play, 69-yard drive and gave Wake a 14-10 advantage.
Wake Forest increased its lead to 17-10 when Newman hit a 35-yard field goal with 2:22 remaining in the first half. The scoring drive was set up when the Deacon defense stopped the Yellow Jackets on a fourth-and-one at the Wake Forest 38-yard line. The Deacons took the 17-10 lead into halftime.
Georgia Tech wasted no time in evening the score in the second half. After stopping Wake on three-and-out, Tech's Jonathan Dwyer ran up the middle of the Deacon defense for a 59-yard score on the Jackets' first offensive play of the third quarter.
The teams played to a stalemate through the rest of the third stanza before the Yellow Jackets reclaimed the lead on a 12-yard scoring run by Nesbitt, giving the home squad a 24-17 advantage with 8:19 to play in the game
The Deacons quickly responded, driving 74 yards on seven plays for the game-tying 11-yard touchdown pass from Skinner to Brown. The TD was set up on a 27-yard completion from Skinner to Brown that put the ball at the Tech 23-yard line. A Yellow Jacket personal foul tacked on another 11 yards to put the Deacons at the 12.
Wake Forest got the ball back with 1:50 to play after Hunter Haynes sacked Nesbitt on fourth down at the Deacons' 41-yard line. However, the Deacons were forced to punt when their drive stalled at the Georgia Tech 40-yard line. Shane Popham pinned the Jackets inside their three-yard line, eliminating a chance of a final drive.
Playing an overtime game for the second time this season, Wake Forest went on offense first and put a 34-yard field goal from Newman on the board.
Georgia Tech responded by driving down to the Wake five-yard line before facing a critical fourth down. Instead of going for the game-tying field goal, Tech used a QB sneak to pick up the first down. On the next play, Nesbitt ran it in on a quarterback keeper to the right side.
The Deacons fell to 2-6 all-time in overtime games. Wake Forest also lost in overtime at Boston College earlier this season, suffering a 27-24 setback at the hands of the Eagles.
Wake Forest was gunning for its first defeat of a top 10-ranked team since beating No. 4 Tennessee, 19-6, in 1946. Wake was facing its first top 10-ranked opponent since falling to No. 5 Louisville in the 2007 FedEx Orange Bowl.
Georgia Tech finished with 463 yards of total offense, including 412 yards on the ground. The Jackets' rushing total was the most by an opponent during the Jim Grobe era, topping the previous high of 339 rushing yards by Maryland in 2003.
Reigning ACC Player of the Year Jonathan Dwyer rushed for a career-high 189 yards on 23 carries to lead the Jackets.
Nesbitt completed just four of 14 passes for 51 yards with an interception.
The Deacons were able to take advantage of a number of Yellow Jacket miscues, as Georgia Tech committed seven penalties for 78 yards on the night.
Tailback Kevin Harris and defensive end Kyle Wilber both returned to the field after missing extensive time due to injury. Harris missed the previous six games, while Wilber had missed the previous seven contests. Both entered the season as starters.
Linebacker Lee Malchow suffered a broken leg when making the tackle on the opening kickoff of the game. Tight end Cameron Ford also left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.
The loss was Wake Forest's second straight in Atlanta (2005) and moved the Deacons to 8-21 all-time against the Yellow Jackets.
Wake Forest returns to action next week as the Deacons host Florida State on Senior Day at BB&T Field. Kickoff and television broadcast information will be released by the ACC office tomorrow afternoon.