Oct 27, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Grant Wells (6) runs for a touchdown during the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium.  The Wolfpack won 22-21. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech meet amid fading bowl hopes

The battle of the Techs in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division often has had championship implications.

But those days are in the past.

On Saturday, when Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3 ACC) travels to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech (2-6, 1-4), the only stakes are the flickering bowl hopes of the struggling teams.

While Georgia Tech enters the game on a two-game skid, Virginia Tech has dropped five in a row in its longest losing streak in 30 seasons.

With two games left vs. ACC teams who have losing records, and another against Liberty, Hokies coach Brent Pry is looking for a “reboot,” as he called it Tuesday.

“We have four games left, a good chance to go 4-0, achieve a lot of objectives and finish this thing on a good note,” Pry said.

The Hokies are coming off a 22-21 loss at North Carolina State in which they incurred a staggering 10 false-start penalties.

Virginia Tech quarterback Grant Wells ran for two touchdowns and threw for a score in a dizzying span of 8:49 in the third quarter. The splurge put the Hokies up 21-3 late in the third quarter. But over the final 17 minutes, Tech surrendered three touchdown passes by Wolfpack true freshman quarterback MJ Morris.

The Yellow Jackets had their moments this year. Since Geoff Collins was fired as head coach, interim coach Brent Key has guided the team to an upset of then-24th-ranked Pitt, 26-21, followed by a 23-20 victory in overtime against Duke.

But last week’s 41-16 loss at Florida State was a humbling reality check. On a day when the Yellow Jackets’ defense surrendered 642 yards, their offense gained only 24 in the first half.

In his first college start, freshman Zach Pyron recovered in the second half to finish 18-of-28 passing for 198 yards and a touchdown.

Pyron will be back on the bench this week because starter Jeff Sims will return from a sprained foot. Key declared Sims good to go on Tuesday, explaining that his running ability forces opposing teams to defend more of the field, which can open Tech’s running attack.

“Creating those lanes and creating those spaces with Jeff is obviously a huge advantage for us,” Key said.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Jeff Sims (10) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ga. Tech scores huge upset over No. 24 Pitt

Jeff Sims threw for 102 yards, rushed for another 81 yards and a touchdown to lead Georgia Tech to a 26-21 road upset over No. 24 Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Hassan Hall rushed for 157 yards on 20 carries for Georgia Tech (2-3, 1-1 ACC).

Georgia Tech opened the scoring with 11:14 left in the first quarter, taking a 3-0 lead on a 37-yard field goal by Gavin Stewart.

With 2:50 remaining in the second quarter, Stewart connected on a 33-yard field goal to give the Yellow Jackets a 6-0 lead.

Kedon Slovis hit Gavin Bartholomew on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 1:04 left until halftime to give Pittsburgh (3-2, 0-1) a 7-6 lead.

Georgia Tech regained the lead in the third quarter, going up 9-7 with 8:36 left in the third on a 40-yard field goal by Stewart. He then made a 30-yard field goal to give Georgia Tech a 12-7 lead with 12:40 remaining in the game.

On the first play of Pittsburgh’s next possession, Georgia Tech recovered a fumble by Pittsburgh’s Vincent Davis at the Pittsburgh 34-yard line.

The Yellow Jackets cashed in on the good field position, taking a 19-7 lead with 10:30 remaining on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Sims to E.J. Jenkins.

After stopping Georgia Tech on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Pittsburgh drove 99 yards and cut Georgia Tech’s lead to 19-14 on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Slovis to Jaden Bradley with 1:57 remaining.

Taking over at its own 28, Hall took a handoff and ran 63 yards to the Pittsburgh 9-yard line. Sims then scored on an 18-yard touchdown run with 1:25 remaining to make it 26-14 Georgia Tech.

Slovis hit Bradley for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left to round out the scoring.

Pittsburgh running back Israel Abanikanda did not return to the game in the second half after suffering an arm or shoulder injury in the first half. He had his right arm in a sling on the Pittsburgh bench.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels tight end Michael Trigg (0) catches the ball against Troy Trojans defensive back TJ Harris (8) during the second half at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Ole Miss’ level of difficulty rises at Georgia Tech

After cruising to two victories against overmatched opponents, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin will take his Rebels to Georgia’s capital this weekend for their first test against a Power Five school.

Kiffin hopes it won’t be Ole Miss’ last trip to Atlanta.

The No. 20 Rebels (2-0) will visit Georgia Tech (1-1) on Saturday in the first meeting between the schools since the 2013 Music City Bowl, a 25-17 Ole Miss triumph.

Last Saturday, the Rebels scored 28 points in the first quarter in rolling up Central Arkansas 59-3 on an evening when Ole Miss quarterback Luke Altmyer suffered an upper-body injury. He was removed late in the first half after an interception and replaced by Jaxson Dart, who was the first-game starter in Kiffin’s plan to alternate their starts at the beginning of the season.

Dart has completed 28 of 42 passes (66.7 percent) for 336 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, while Altmyer has completed 7 of 15 (46.7 percent) for 103 yards, three TDs and an interception.

Kiffin said Monday he wasn’t sure who would take snaps in Atlanta.

“(Altmyer) was out there today,” Kiffin said. “I think he’ll be all right. We’re just going to push forward the way we’ve been going. We’ll figure out who goes first at some point later in the week.”

Tight end Michael Trigg, who transferred with Dart from USC, tied a school record with three touchdown receptions against Central Arkansas. The 56-point margin of victory was the largest for Ole Miss since a 76-3 rout of UT Martin in 2015.

Regardless of who leads the offense, the Rebels will trot out a strong rushing attack. After two games, they rank 11th nationally in rushing with 249.5 yards per game led by Quinshon Judkins and Zach Evans.

Judkins, a true freshman from Pike Road, Ala., paces the group with 191 yards on 24 carries (8.0 average) with a score. He recorded his first career 100-yard game Saturday.

“I knew he was special, but his vision …” Kiffin said of Judkins. “We knew he was physical, but his vision is really unique.”

Evans is averaging 5.9 a game, gaining 183 yards on 31 carries.

The Yellow Jackets had some good and bad Saturday night in their 35-17 win over Western Carolina.

Coach Geoff Collins’ group fell behind 14-7 as the visitors scored on their first two possessions. But Georgia Tech’s defense regrouped as the offense outscored the Catamounts 28-3 the rest of the way. Running back Dontae Smith had a stellar outing with 102 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries.

“I thought that we were getting a good push all night, and Dontae had a heck of a game, and I am just really proud of him and all three of those guys. Dylan (McDuffie) and Hassan (Hall) helped us out a bunch, too,” Collins said.

McDuffie and Nate McCollum added scores.

Jeff Sims struggled — 8-for-17 for 100 yards with an interception — but Collins said the mediocre numbers were due in part to the running game’s success.

“The big thing was that we wanted to establish the run — that was a big point of emphasis all week — and take our shots when we needed to,” said Collins. “I thought Jeff did a good job of getting us into the looks for us to have success in the run game as well.”

Though Ole Miss and Georgia Tech were charter members of the SEC, they have met just four times, splitting the games. They will play again next year in Mississippi.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back Jahmyr Gibbs (1) runs the ball against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Ga. Tech all-purpose standout Jahmyr Gibbs commits to Alabama

Former Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs committed to Alabama on Tuesday.

Gibbs, who entered the transfer portal late last month, made his announcement on social media in a 20-second video collage.

As a sophomore this past season, the 5-11, 200-pound Gibbs carried the ball 143 times for 746 yards with four touchdowns, and he added 470 yards and two touchdowns on 36 receptions. With kick returns, he averaged 150.4 all-purpose yards — third most in the country — and was named to the all-ACC first team as an all-purpose player.

In his two seasons in Atlanta, Gibbs accounted for 1,979 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns. The Georgia native was a four-star recruit and ranked No. 8 in the nation at his position in the Class of 2020.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins gestures on the field during the third quarter against the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Ga. Tech kicks off crucial stretch against Va. Tech

Georgia Tech will likely learn exactly where it stands in the next three weeks, beginning with Saturday’s home game against Virginia Tech in Atlanta.

The Yellow Jackets (3-4, 2-3 ACC) have lost two of their past three games after a 48-40 loss at Virginia last week. They are running out of time to show they’ve made progress toward no longer being in the bottom tier of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division.

Georgia Tech has yet to win back-to-back games this season, but the Yellow Jackets opened as 3.5-point favorites against the Hokies (3-4, 1-2).

When coach Geoff Collins took over for Paul Johnson prior to the 2019 season, the Yellow Jackets were coming off a 7-6 season that ended with a loss to Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl.

But they’ve gone 9-20 overall, including 7-15 in ACC play, under Collins, who has the team in danger of not playing in a bowl game for the third straight season, something that hasn’t happened at Georgia Tech since the early 1990s. Prior to Collins’ arrival, the Yellow Jackets had played in a bowl game in 17 of the previous 19 seasons dating to 1999.

But Collins insists the Yellow Jackets are getting better, even if their record doesn’t show it.

Georgia Tech has lost three games by a combined 15 points after a 48-40 loss to Virginia last week. The Yellow Jackets’ other setback was a 52-21 hammering by Coastal Division-leading Pittsburgh.

“The biggest thing we talked about is just creating margin in the program,” Collins said on Tuesday. “When we first got here there was a big margin and now that margin is really small.”

How big are the Yellow Jackets’ next three games, which include a trip to Miami (3-4, 1-2) and home against Boston College (4-3, 0-3)?

A team must have six wins to be eligible for a bowl game. If the Yellow Jackets don’t win their next three games, they close the season at No. 11 Notre Dame (6-1) and at home against top-ranked Georgia (7-0).

“In this game, when you are playing in this league, you are playing against quality opponents and we’ve become a really good competitive team,” he said on Tuesday. “But that margin is so small and you leaving one play to chance, that is the margin from our record being what it could be to what it is.”

The Yellow Jackets couldn’t have picked a better time to play Virginia Tech, which is reeling after three straight losses. The Hokies gave up two touchdowns in the final 2:28 in a 41-36 loss last week to visiting Syracuse, which amassed 550 yards of total offense, including 314 on the ground.

The Hokies have become the ACC’s epitome of mediocrity, having gone 22-22 in their past 44 games and 15-14 in their past 29 ACC contests. The teams didn’t play last year and there are very few key returning players from the Hokies’ 45-0 win at Georgia Tech in the teams’ last meeting in 2019.

Against Virginia, the Yellow Jackets played their best game offensively of the season.

Quarterback Jeff Sims threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns and an interception, while Jahmyr Gibbs rushed for 132 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown run, on just 13 carries. Kyric McGowan had seven catches for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“A tremendous challenge this week,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “We’re going on the road to Georgia Tech, which has an explosive offense with really good skill players.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back Jahmyr Gibbs (1) runs the ball against Northern Illinois Huskies cornerback Zhamaine March (20) during the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jenn Finch-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech out to avoid wreck as Kennesaw State eyes upset

Georgia Tech attempts to rebound after opening with a loss to Northern Illinois.

Visiting Kennesaw State arrives in Atlanta for a nonconference game on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets were an 18 1/2-point favorite against the Huskies, who used a Rocky Lombardi touchdown pass and ensuing two-point conversion with 38 seconds remaining to pull out a 22-21 win. The Huskies blocked Georgia Tech’s 60-yard field goal attempt with one second remaining to secure the win.

The Yellow Jackets (0-1) don’t have much time to make changes, considering they open their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule at Clemson, the league’s six-time defending champion, on Sept. 18.

Saturday’s game will be the first for Kennesaw State (1-0), an FCS school about 20 miles north of Georgia Tech, against a Power 5 team in school history.

Georgia Tech is likely turning to quarterback Jordan Yates, who opened the season as the backup to Jeff Sims. But Sims injured his left (non-throwing) arm in the first half against the Huskies while trying to recover a fumble. He watched the rest of the game in street clothes with his arm in a sling.

Yates rallied the Yellow Jackets when he scored on a 4-yard run with 6:32 remaining to give Georgia Tech a 21-14 lead. But Georgia Tech’s defense couldn’t hold the advantage. Yates went 12-for-18 passing for 135 yards and a touchdown and had nine carries for 27 yards. Sims completed 3-of-8 passes for 21 yards and added 34 yards rushing before getting injured.

Jahmyr Gibbs rushed for a team-high 99 yards on 20 carries and Malachi Carter had a team-leading six catches for 92 of Georgia Tech’s 156 receiving yards.

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins remains confident the Yellow Jackets can be an elite team.

“One hundred percent,” he told reporters. “It’s not if, it’s when. And we’ve just got to continue to build and continue to grow. The strides that we’ve made, you can see them. The improvements on defense, the improvements on offense. We’ve just got to score when we cross the 50.”

Kennesaw State, a member of the Big South Conference, amassed 407 yards in a season-opening 35-25 win over the Reinhardt Eagles, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school in Waleska, Ga.

Quarterback Jonathan Murphy (18 carries, 98 yards, two TDs), running back Kyle Glover (16 carries, 80 yards) and quarterback Xavier Shepherd (eight carries, 60 yards, two TDs) powered a rushing attack that ran for 335 yards on 65 carries. Murphy went 3-of-7 passing for 40 yards and in interception, while Shepherd was 1-for-2 passing for 32 yards.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack running back Ricky Person Jr. (8) celebrates after a touchdown run against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

NC State earns first home win over Ga. Tech in 20 years

Quarterback Bailey Hockman recorded his second straight 300-yard passing game and NC State defeated visiting Georgia Tech 23-13 on Saturday, giving the Wolfpack their first home win over the Yellow Jackets since 2000.

NC State (8-3, 7-3 ACC) put the game away when Chris Dunn kicked a 39-yard field goal with 3:14 remaining. It was the third field goal of the day for Dunn and the 55th of his career, setting a school record.

Hockman completed 23 of 36 passes for 309 yards, four shy of matching the career best he set last week. His favorite target was Emeka Emezie, who caught six passes for 91 yards. Ricky Person rushed 15 times for 58 of the team’s 88 yards and scored one touchdown.

Georgia Tech (3-6, 3-5) hung tough despite being hobbled by injuries. The Yellow Jackets were missing 10 players who had been listed on the team’s midweek depth chart, including two starting cornerbacks and two defensive linemen.

The Yellow Jackets were led by quarterback Jeff Sims, who completed 13 of 27 passes for 151 yards and rushed 17 times for 93 yards and one touchdown. Jordan Mason carried 21 times for 99 yards. Adonicus Sanders had seven catches for 105 yards, both season highs.

Dunn opened the scoring with a 40-yard field goal and Person gave the Wolfpack a 10-0 lead on a 20-yard run.

Georgia Tech answered when Sims raced 34-yard for a touchdown, but NC State’s Zonovan “Bam” Knight got it back with a 5-yard touchdown run. It was Knight’s ninth touchdown and sixth over the last three games.

Dunn finished the first-half scoring with a 20-yard field goal, which gave the Wolfpack a 20-7 lead.

Georgia Tech drove for a field goal to open the second half. Gavin Stewart kicked a 26-yarder, the first of his career and first for the Yellow Jackets since the season opener against Florida State.

The Yellow Jackets stopped the Wolfpack on fourth-and-1 at the 10 and responded with a season-long 16-play drive to set up a 22-yard field goal by Stewart that cut the lead to 20-13 with 11:32 left.

–Field Level Media