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ATLANTA (HokieSports.com) – Virginia Tech used great defense and a timely touchdown in the fourth quarter to rally from a 14-0 deficit and knock off Georgia Tech 23-21 in an ACC game played at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday night.
With the win, the Hokies moved to 5-5 overall, 3-3 in the ACC, and need one more win to become bowl eligible for the 23rd straight season. Georgia Tech fell to 3-7 overall, 1-6 in the ACC.
Following the game, a huge throng of Virginia Tech fans in the corner of the stands started chanting, “Beamer, Beamer, Beamer” in honor of longtime head coach Frank Beamer, who is retiring at the end of this season and coached in his last Thursday night game.
In the locker room afterward, the team presented Beamer with the special teams game ball – and he broke out some dancing moves.
“I’ve said many times that this is a business, and that man, what he’s done for the university, has been outstanding,” Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “The thing I feel for the most is the people that have been around the most and what they’ve done to contribute and help Virginia Tech and our department, and our kids. I’m really excited for our head coach and our kids. We’re going to find a way to go out and send him out the right way.”
Georgia Tech’s third lost fumble of the game put Virginia Tech in prime scoring position in the fourth quarter. Virginia Tech defensive tackle Woody Baron forced Georgia Tech’s Marcus Allen to fumble, and Dadi Nicolas recovered at the Georgia Tech 18 for the Hokies.
Travon McMillian took advantage, scoring a touchdown on a 4-yard run with 6:58 left that gave the Hokies the lead. Joey Slye missed the extra point, but Virginia Tech still led 23-21.
Virginia Tech’s defense did the rest. Georgia Tech twice had chances to take the lead, but the Hokies held both times. On the Yellow Jackets final drive, they drove into Virginia Tech territory, but an unsportsmanlike penalty pushed them back and then the Hokies’ Ken Ekanem came up with a big third-down sack of Georgia Tech’s Justin Thomas. On fourth-and-27, Thomas’ pass fell incomplete, enabling the Hokies to secure the win.
“The emotions were high and a lot was on the line,” Ekanem said. “We were able to push them back on that last drive. Just a great job by our whole defense. I’m very proud of us, and I’d say we executed well.”
Virginia Tech’s defense was outstanding after the first quarter. It gave up 130 yards in the first quarter, but just 128 in the final three quarters. The Hokies forced three turnovers in the win.
In fact, Georgia Tech finished with just 258 yards. That marked the fewest by a Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson squad against a Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster defense.
“They did a couple of unique things in the running game that we had to catch up to, and we did,” Foster said. “Our kids did a great job after that. It was something that they had not shown blocking, and I was really proud of how our kids worked the game and handled the adjustments. It’s just not easy, particularly when you’ve got some young kids, so I’m really proud of them.”
McMillian paced Virginia Tech’s offense with 135 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Quarterback Michael Brewer threw for 178 yards and a score.
The Hokies fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter, but came from behind to tie the game at 14 at halftime following two long second-quarter scoring drives. The first one ended with a McMillian 2-yard touchdown run and the second one ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Brewer to Isaiah Ford.
Georgia Tech’s lone score in the second half came when Brewer threw a pass that was intercepted on Georgia Tech’s Brant Mitchell on third-and-10. Mitchell took it 32 yards to the end zone for a touchdown that gave the Yellow Jackets a 21-14 lead with 14 minutes left in the third quarter.