By Adesina O. Koiki
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuan Marshall accounted for four touchdowns, including a game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Jeune midway through the fourth quarter, as the Yellow Jackets held on to defeat No. 17 Virginia Tech 28-22. The win is a huge boost for Georgia Tech’s bowl hopes, as it now only has to win one of its two remaining games to become bowl eligible.
Three of Georgia Tech’s four losses this season, to Tennessee, Miami and Virginia, have come by a combined six points, and it looked as if the Yellow Jackets (5-4, 4-3 ACC) were going to find themselves on the short end of another close game after Virginia Tech cornerback Greg Stroman intercepted a Marshall pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth to give the Hokies a 22-21 lead.
Just two plays from scrimmage after Virginia Tech took that lead, Marshall lobbed a deep pass down the middle to a wide-open Jeune, who outraced the Hokies secondary to the goal line to give the Yellow Jackets the lead again with 6:30 left in the game
On its final drive, Virginia Tech converted two fourth downs and moved the ball to the Georgia Tech 32. Another fourth down situation – a 4th-and-1 from the 32 – faced the Hokies, and instead of running the ball, quarterback Josh Jackson looked for his top target, wide receiver Cam Phillips, on a deep pass into the end zone. However, the pass was knocked away by redshirt freshman safety Ajani Kerr, preserving the Yellow Jackets’ lead.
Marshall’s game-winning touchdown pass was just one of two completions he had in the entire game; His other completion also went for a touchdown, a 60-yard pass to Brad Stewart on a 3rd-and-18 to give Georgia Tech a 21-9 lead with 12:10 to go in the third quarter.
Virginia Tech responded with 13 unanswered points to take its first lead since the Hokies’ 3-0 advantage after the game’s opening drive. Running back Jalen Holston ended the third quarter with an eight-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 21-16.
Stroman’s pick six in the fourth quarter then gave the Hokies the lead.
Georgia Tech’s first two touchdowns of the game came on short runs by Marshall. His three-yard run on an option play in the first quarter gave the Yellow Jackets a 7-3 lead.
After a successful fake punt kept a second-quarter drive alive for Georgia Tech, Marshall scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak to give the Yellow Jackets a 14-3 lead.
Georgia Tech ends its ACC portion of the schedule next week when it travels to Durham, N.C. to take on the Duke Blue Devils (4-6, 1-5 ACC).