Gambles fail, Virginia falls to Georgia Tech 35-25
Oct. 26, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Down 14-10, Virginia had the ball at the Georgia Tech 1-yard-line with six seconds left in the first half and no timeouts remaining.
Decision time for Mike London. Kick the chip-shot field goal or try to grab the lead? What do you say, Coach?
"We got down there and obviously we could have kicked the field goal, but this team is 2-5. We are trying to score a touchdown. We did a great job moving the ball down there and we wanted a touchdown."
OK. Run or pass, and maybe have a second or two left if a quick throw is incomplete?
"We can talk about play selection, but what we tried was a jumbo package play and we tried to show them something different and capitalize on that, but we didn't."
Didn't indeed. Kevin Parks was stopped for no gain as time expired, and the jubilant Yellow Jackets sprinted to the locker room while the Cavaliers walked off with their heads hanging — a scene that has become all too familiar for a Virginia team that has lost five in a row after Saturday's 35-25 loss to Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers would have to win out to become bowl eligible.
The late first-half failed gamble wasn't the first one for Virginia. On the Cavaliers' second possession, they lined up for a 32-yard field-goal try on fourth-and-6. An offsides penalty against Georgia Tech made it fourth-and-1, and the crowd pleaded with London to go for the first down. He obliged, but Watford overthrew fullback Billy Scrobacz in the flat.
Virginia got no points off five Georgia Tech turnovers, four of them in the first half.
"It's very disappointing to have had five turnovers and not be able to capitalize and score on some of those opportunities," London said. "Some of the players had career days, but you would rather have the W."
Those career days were by quarterback David Watford and receivers Darius Jennings and Tim Smith. Watford was 43-of-61 for 376 yards, setting school records for attempts and completions. Jennings caught 13 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns and Smith caught 10 for 151 yards, becoming the first Virginia duo to ever have at least 10 receptions in one game.
"It's cool to have a record, but I would rather have the record in a win rather than in a loss," Watford said. "Either way, it shows our progress. We are still fighting week in and week out without a doubt."
Zach Laskey and David Sims each ran for two touchdowns, Robert Godhigh ran for one and Georgia Tech (5-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) responded every time Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC) made it close.
Sims scored on the Yellow Jackets' third play of the game and sealed it with a 29-yard TD run with 1:55 left after Virginia had cut the lead to 28-25 on Watford's 12-yard touchdown pass to Jennings and 2-point conversion pass to Khalek Shepherd.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, Virginia had cut Georgia Tech's lead to 21-17 on Watford's 5-yard touchdown pass to Jennings. But the Yellow Jackets responded with a 65-yard touchdown run by Godhigh to again stretch their lead to double digits.
Georgia Tech got lots of big plays from its triple-option offense, rolling up 507 yards as three backs rushed for over 100 — Laskey with 133, Godhigh with 111 and Sims with 107.
Virginia had the ball nearly 10 minutes longer than Georgia Tech, which entered the game second nationally in time of possession, but the Yellow Jackets got six plays of more than 30 yards out of its triple-option offense as well as Sims' 29-yarder and a 59-yard kickoff return that led to a touchdown.
The Cavaliers finished with 32 first downs and 444 yards, more than 100 more than Georgia Tech's 12th-rated defense was allowing on average.
"We did a decent job with the score when you see how many plays they ran," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. The Cavaliers ran 93 plays to Georgia Tech's 61.