Washington, Yellow Jackets trounce Cavaliers
Georgia Tech amasses 470 yards rushing in 56-20 rout
Fueled by the dazzling play of quarterback Tevin Washington and a vaunted triple-option offense, Georgia Tech throttled Virginia 56-20 Saturday to hand the Cavaliers their first defeat of the season.
A week after surviving a 17-16 heart-thumping contest against Penn State, Virginia (2-1, 0-1 ACC) sputtered badly in its first game outside the friendly confines of Scott Stadium. In stark contrast to last year’s 24-21 triumph, in which the Cavaliers limited the high-octane Georgia Tech offense to just 296 total yards, the Yellow Jackets (2-1, 1-1 ACC) flummoxed coach Mike London’s defense all afternoon. Georgia Tech finished with 470 yards rushing on only 48 carries and scored the most points of a Virginia opponent since Illinois put up 63 on the Cavaliers in the 1999 Micronpc.com Bowl. Running back Orwin Smith led all rushers with 137 yards and a touchdown on six carries, while Washington finished with a team-high three rushing touchdowns to punctuate his 218 total yards.
From the outset, Washington and his cadre of speedy running backs raced past a Virginia defense that looked lively and tenacious just a week ago. The Yellow Jackets’ first offensive snap resulted in a 70-yard touchdown pass from Washington to running back Zack Laskey on a wheel route, and Orwin Smith took an option pitch 76 yards on their third play to stake the home team to a 14-0 lead just 4:29 into the action.
Thanks to one of junior quarterback Michael Rocco’s most impressive drives of the year, Virginia was able to respond to the early body-blow just minutes later. Rocco lobbed a 19-yard touchdown pass to emerging star sophomore tight end Jake McGee to cap an eight-play, 71-yard drive and pull the Cavaliers within seven at the 6:27 mark. Rocco finished 5-of-6 with 67 yards and the score on the drive.
Virginia would never get any closer, however, as Rocco and company failed to keep up with Washington and the relentless Georgia Tech attack. Washington sprinted 60 yards up the middle on the first offensive play following the McGee touchdown before finishing the drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge on fourth and goal to make it 21-7 at the end of the first quarter. Two more rushing scores from Washington and backup quarterback Vad Lee in the second quarter made it 35-7 at the half and effectively extinguished any lingering hope for the Cavaliers.
With the second half arrived more of the same for the Virginia defense. After Rocco’s second interception led to Washington’s third and final rushing score, Lee assumed control of the offense and led the Yellow Jackets to touchdowns on each of his final two drives. Even backup fullback Matt Connors tortured the Cavaliers, scampering 32 yards to the end zone at the end of the third quarter.
One bright spot in the second half for London and the coaching staff involved the play of junior quarterback Philip Sims. The highly-touted transfer looked sharp in relief of Rocco, going 6 for 8 for 56 yards and two fourth quarter touchdown hurls. Overall, Virginia finished with 297 yards of total offense and 31:23 of possession — numbers skewed by Sims’ exploits with the game well in hand.
Next week may inflict an even more arduous challenge on the Cavaliers when they travel to Fort Worth, Texas to face No. 16 TCU. The Horned Frogs, newly-anointed members of the Big 12, defeated Kansas 20-6 Saturday.