Despite never leading the game in regulation, the Georgia Bulldogs (8-4) recorded a stunning overtime win against the rival Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-5) Saturday. Georgia Tech led the Bulldogs 20-0 early, but Georgia backup quarterback Hutson Mason found his footing, Georgia's running game finally got traction, and the Bulldog defense bottled up Tech's option attack in the second half.
The game started with the usual display of clean old-fashioned hate that we have come to expect.
Georgia Tech stormed to a 20-point first half lead, with Yellow Jackets quarterback Vad Lee running for one score and throwing for another. The run was set up by a 3rd and 8 bomb that Lee completed despite a taking a brutal hit from a blitzer.
The passing touchdown, Lee's first since mid-October, hit DeAndre Smelter off a perfect play fake. The Tech offense was hitting on all cylinders, Georgia looked lost on both sides of the ball, and the apparent rout was on.
With two minutes left before halftime and Georgia still scoreless, backup quarterback Hutson Mason finally found his form. He connected with running back Todd Gurley on a last-minute score, finishing a seven-play, 86-yard drive in just over one minute The touchdown, scored on an impressive dive by Gurley, gave Georgia some momentum heading to the break.
The Bulldogs then took the second half kick and went 63 yards in 15 plays, setting up a field goal when an apparent Gurley touchdown was called back for an illegal block. Mason found Michael Bennett for another touchdown seven minutes later, and the fourth quarter opened with the Bulldogs back within three points.
Tech ended the Georgia scoring streak early in the fourth, when Lee's second touchdown pass of the day to Smelter extended the Yellow Jackets' lead back to ten points. Needing two scores, Mason led the Bulldogs on a 77-yard scoring drive, converting a 4th and 6 from his own 39 and completing five passes for 59 yards. With less than seven minutes left, Gurley dove in from the two yard line to make it 27-24.
On the second play of the ensuing drive, Vad Lee threw a floating pass down the sideline. Josh Harvey-Clemons picked it off and returned it to the Georgia Tech 25, and a 32-yard field goal tied the game with 4:17 to play.
With the game on the line, Georgia Tech returned to the triple option. The Yellow Jackets quickly moved across midfield, but two short runs left them with 3rd and 7 at the Georgia 40 yard line. Lee threw incomplete, and Johnson opted to punt and play for overtime.
Overtime was a study in smashmouth football. Georgia Tech methodically covered the 25 yards in the first overtime possession, with Lee running in a touchdown from two yards out. The Bulldogs turned to Todd Gurley, who needed just three bruising runs to tie the score. On the next series, Gurley covered the 25 yards in just one run, giving Georgia its first lead of the game at 41-34. Tech again used the option to drive inside the Georgia 10 yard line, but the Yellow Jackets faced a 4th and 5 after Georgia stuffed a pitch play. The Yellow Jackets were finally forced to the air, Lee's fourth down pass attempt was incomplete, and Georgia recorded an improbable win.
Box Score Hero: While he struggled early as the Georgia Tech defense keyed on him, Georgia halfback Todd Gurley is your man of the match. Gurley ran 20 times for 122 yards and three touchdowns, including both Goergia scores in overtime. He also caught four passes for 36 yards and a fourth touchdown.
Rankings Ramifications: Neither team is ranked, though Georgia still continues to receive votes in the AP and USA Today polls. The Bulldogs could sneak back into the poll this week with the win.
But Did They Cover? Georgia, a three-point favorite for Saturday's game, managed a miraculous cover.
For More On This Game: For more on UGA football, visit Georgia community Dawg Sports, plus SEC community Team Speed Kills. For more on Jackets football, visit Georgia Tech community From The Rumble Seat.
Next Week's Schedule: Both teams are done until bowl season.