Wake Forest Edged by Georgia Tech, 24-20
Oct. 2, 2010
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - All things considered - and the pileup of injured quarterbacks offered a lot to ponder - the Wake Forest Demon Deacons couldn't have been too upset about life with 2:21 left Saturday night. They led allegedly ground-bound Georgia Tech by a field goal and had 69 yards of turf to play with as the Yellow Jackets took over.
In the end, however, Tech's improbability - a passing-based drive concluding with 15 seconds left - beat the Deacons' odds-buster as Joshua Nesbitt hit third-string wide receiver Correy Earls on a slant pattern that defeated Wake 24-20 at BB&T Field. The Deacs, who nearly won with a gimpy fourth-string quarterback, fell to 1-2 in the ACC.
"It's disappointing," Deacons coach Jim Grobe said. "The thing that would have been disappointing is if they had gone down the field to kick a field goal and tie. But to go the entire length of the field to win it is more disappointing."
Ultimately, two moments that looked hopeful for Wake turned out to spell its loss.
Down to redshirt junior Skylar Jones, for whom the Jackets had not prepared, the Deacs owned a 17-6 lead early in the fourth quarter and for an instant thought they might expand on it. The game may have turned on one that didn't get away.
When Tech punter Sean Poole dropped an acceptable snap from center early in the fourth, the ball went into a tantalizing spin on the Jacket 10. Would Poole be forced to eat the ball on that spot? Would his punt be rejected and claimed for a Deacon touchdown? Neither.
Poole had time - barely - to get the kick away, and although it was far from beautiful, the 10-yard effort at least got the ball to the Tech 36. Wake would have to do something offensively to add to its lead, but that didn't materialize. The Deacs' subsequent possession resulted in a punt.
"I think we had opportunities during the game," Grobe said. "We had pretty good field position more than one time that we didn't do anything with and came away with no points. You can't squander opportunities. You get late in the game and then you realize that you missed some opportunities earlier and everything has to be perfect down the stretch."
To its credit, the Wake offense didn't turn the ball over. Generally speaking, there's no greater fear with an inexperienced QB than a risky pass or a botched option pitchout, but if Jones didn't excel, he didn't do in his team, either.
That came at the hand of a Jacket passing game that had completed 15 of its 45 attempts in the season's first four games. And curiously enough, a vital play was one that went Wake's way.
On the first play of the final possession, Nesbitt had Tyler Melton open down the right sideline, and he threw a perfect pass. Melton dropped it. Moments later, the Jackets faced fourth down.
They wouldn't have drawn it up any other way. Melton's drop meant the nation's most experienced fourth-down offense - the Jackets disdain the punt because they can pick up four or five yards on virtually any option rush - simply required more time to score. They converted a fourth-and-4 situation and two subsequent third-down plays, the last of which was the game-winner.
The Deacs were left with 15 seconds to do something. They'd have preferred two minutes.
"I'm still flabbergasted," Earls said 20 minutes after it was over.
Just how odd was this? In the previous 71 games, Paul Johnson's teams at Georgia Tech and Navy had attempted 20 or more passes only four times. They were 0-for-4 in those contests. Now they're 1-for-5.
Scoring Drive Recaps
Georgia Tech 3, Wake Forest 0 (10:54, 1st quarter)
Wake Forest 3, Georgia Tech 3 (3:51, 1st quarter)
Wake Forest 10, Georgia Tech 3 (1:22, 2nd quarter)
Wake Forest 10, Georgia Tech 6 (0:27, 2nd quarter)
Wake Forest 17, Georgia Tech 6 (0:42, 3rd quarter)
Wake Forest 17, Georgia Tech 9 (10:23, 4th quarter)
Wake Forest 17, Georgia Tech 17 (6:50, 4th quarter)
Wake Forest 20, Georgia Tech 17 (2:21, 4th quarter)
Georgia Tech 24, Wake Forest 20 (0:15, 4th quarter)