Virginia overwhelmed in 56-20 loss to Georgia Tech
CHARLES ODUM,AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Mike London said there would be no finger-pointing after Virginia’s lopsided loss to Georgia Tech.
Virginia was held under 300 yards for the second straight week while giving up the most points the Cavaliers have allowed in 13 years, since a 63-21 loss to Illinois in the 1999 Micronpc.com Bowl.
“It’s a humbling experience when you come in and get beat like that,” London said. “When you don’t execute well on defense or offense, things like that happen.”
Virginia (2-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) was held to 98 yards rushing and 297 total yards. One year ago, the Cavaliers ran for 274 yards and held the ball 30 minutes in a 24-21 win over the Yellow Jackets.
“There’s a lot to look at,” London said. “We’re not going to point fingers or blame anybody. That’s a good football team. They ran their style of offense, and they came out ready to play.”
Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington, who ran for three touchdowns, threw a 70-yard scoring pass to Zach Laskey on Georgia Tech’s first snap.
Laskey, who plays the “B-back” running back position who lines up like a fullback behind Washington, slipped past Virginia outside linebacker Henry Coley and then had open field for the quick-strike touchdown.
The Yellow Jackets quickly added two more big plays.
Smith had a 77-yard touchdown run on the second play of Georgia Tech’s next possession. Washington started the third possession with a 60-yard rush to set up his 1-yard touchdown run.
The Yellow Jackets stretched the lead to 49-7 before backup quarterback Phillip Sims led Virginia to two fourth-quarter scores.
“They just seemed to keep going faster and faster and stronger,” said London of the Yellow Jackets. “And it looked like we kind of wore out.”
Georgia Tech scored 50 or more points in an ACC game for the first time since beating Wake Forest 52-20 on Oct. 14, 2000. The 56 points were the third-highest total for the Yellow Jackets in an ACC game.
“We didn’t play well; we played terribly, and that all starts with me,” said Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid. “We gave up some big plays early. We didn’t play with as much speed and intensity as we had before.”
Washington’s backup at quarterback, Vad Lee, added to the rout with two touchdown runs.
Virginia’s first touchdown came on Michael Rocco’s 19-yard pass to tight end Jake McGee in the first quarter.
Rocco completed 15 of 25 passes for 143 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Sims’ fourth-quarter scoring passes were a 22-yarder to E.J. Scott and a 1-yarder to Zachary Swanson on the final play of the game.
Sims completed 6 of 8 passes for 56 yards and two touchdowns.
Another bright spot for Virginia was sophomore tailback Khalek Shepherd, who had a 72-yard kickoff return, a 22-yard catch and four carries for 33 yards.
Perry Jones, who had 149 yards rushing against Georgia Tech last year, had five carries for 15 yards.
Kevin Parks led Virginia with 13 carries for 53 yards.
Washington and Lee each had 1-yard scoring runs in the second quarter as Georgia Tech (2-1, 1-1) rolled to a 35-7 halftime lead.
“I don’t think it really confused them,” said Georgia Tech’s Orwin Smith of the Cavaliers‘ defense. “I think it just shocked them. They weren’t thinking about a B-back going out onto the flats on to the sideline. I think that play gave us more confidence the rest of the game.”
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said his players responded to last year’s loss the way he hoped.
“We challenged our guys this week and they accepted the challenge,” Johnson said. “I had a long memory from a year ago, and they did too. … I heard a long time ago that revenge is a great motivator for those who care. They care. They were embarrassed the way we played up there a year ago.”
Smith had six carries for 137 yards.
Laskey’s long touchdown came on his first career catch. He ran for 43 yards and did not return after suffering a shoulder injury in the first half. Johnson said Laskey could have played if needed.
With Lee at quarterback, Matt Connors had a 32-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter. The 49-7 lead gave the Yellow Jackets their most points in the series with Virginia.
Lee added a 41-yard touchdown run with 5:56 remaining.
Washington completed 6 of 8 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. He had 11 carries for 93 yards and matched his career high with the three scoring runs.