Ever since Georgia Tech hired Paul Johnson way back before the 2008 season, the Georgia Tech football program has seen just about everything you can imagine. From ACC Champions in 2009 (later vacated) to winning just 3 games in 2015 in one of the most injury filled seasons I have ever seen. Regardless if you like Paul Johnson or not, if you look at the stats, his decade at the Flats has been one of the more decorated ones in recent Georgia Tech history.
Over the course of the next few weeks leading up to Gameday against Alcorn State, we will be counting the top 10 moments over the course of Paul Johnson’s ten years walking the sidelines at Grant Field.
10. Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech 2014
To kick things off with the countdown we are going to take a trip back in time to Blacksburg, Virginia during the incredible and dramatic finish filled season.
Georgia Tech vs Virginia Tech had usually been a Thursday night game but in 2014 it was a Saturday afternoon game, which was a blessing to us Georgia Tech fans because we know how cursed this team seems to be while playing weekday games.
Georgia Tech had not won in Blacksburg since 2006 and were looking to improve on their 3-0 record at the time. Virginia Tech came into the game at 2-1 after losing to Eastern Carolina the week before but toppled #8 Ohio State the week before that. The bad luck in Blacksburg and vs Virginia Tech in general (had won 6 of the last 7 against GT then) was seeming to continue.
Georgia Tech fell behind 13-3 in the second quarter after a Marshawn Williams TD run. Georgia Tech closed the gap to 16-10 at the half but they did let the Hokies drive down the field in 45 seconds before the half to add on a field goal to their lead.
After each team was held scoreless in the third, pure chaos ensued in the 4th quarter. Linebacker PJ Davis intercepted VT quarterback Michael Brewer and returned it for a touchdown to give the Jackets the lead and seemed to give the Jackets all the momentum. Yet, Virginia Tech had one more bag in their trick and, at the time, Georgia Tech fans were feeling like their team just find new ways to lose to the Hokies. Virginia Tech was driving in GT territory until Shai McKenzie coughed it up but the ball bounded straight to quarterback Michael Brewer who was just following the play and he ran it in for the touchdown.
Justin Thomas and Paul Johnson still got the last laugh. After converting what seemed to be a do or die 4th and 15, Justin Thomas led a fierce drive that was capped with a 31 yard Deandre Smelter Touchdown with just over two minutes left in the game to tie things up.
The Jackets defense still needed to get that stop to at least force OT, but DJ White had other plans. On the first play that VT had the ball to try to win it, Big Play DJ White came up with an acrobatic interception that I can still remember today how he broke off his coverage to intercept that pass.
Justin Thomas and crew had the ball at the VT 45 after a false start with 1:55 left. Again, Georgia Tech fans were thinking that they may have missed their chance as the Jackets faced a 3rd and 7 at the VT 37, but again Justin Thomas made a play as he threw a dart to DeAndre Smelter for 18 yards.
Georgia Tech got the ball down to the 7 yard line with 3 seconds left and the game was coming down to the foot of the Georgia Tech all-time leading scorer, Harrison Butker. Butker sent the 24 yard FG through the uprights and a dog pile ensued on the field. As a GT fan it felt like a huge weight was off of our back but for this team it was a momentum building win that sparked an incredible 2014 run.
Throughout this series I will include an Honorable Mention at the end of a couple of the articles of moments/games that didn’t quite make my cut.
This moment took 4,000 miles away in Ireland. Georgia Tech and Boston College met up for an opening weekend showdown in Dublin, Ireland in 2016. A defense filled game between two teams coming off extremely unlucky 2015 seasons that desperately needed a win to build confidence.
Georgia Tech trailed late, 14-10, but the Jackets were driving against a top tier Boston College defense. After converting a 3rd and 10, the Jackets continued to drive deep inside Boston College territory and eventually found themselves at the 4 yard line. Paul Johnson trusted his true Freshman B-back with the game. Mills took the B-Back pitch from senior Justin Thomas and lowered his shoulder into a Boston College linebacker and powered his way into the endzone which proved to be the game winner after the GT defense forced a fumble on BC’s ensuing possession.
This game was a huge momentum builder for the Jackets which proved to be a nice bounce back season for Paul Johnson and crew.
Tune in next for when we release moment number 9 under Paul Johnson!
Bret Anderson: @Bret_A27