Nov 13, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins shows emotion against the Boston College Eagles in the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech ‘hurting’ at end of difficult season

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins didn’t delve too far into his team’s mindset after its disastrous 55-0 loss at then-No. 8 Notre Dame on Saturday.

“The locker room is the first and foremost thing I’m concerned about,” he said. “There are some hurting guys in there … That’s all I’m concerned about right now. We’ll just keep it there.”

But what could Collins say, at least publicly, after the Yellow Jackets (3-8) were dominated in front of a national television audience en route to their fifth straight loss? And in a game in which they would have wanted to build some momentum with a home game against top-ranked Georgia looming this week to conclude a forgettable season?

Georgia Tech mustered just 224 yards of offense, had a fumble and an interception returned for touchdowns, gave up six sacks and were gashed for 514 yards.

The defensive breakdown continued a trend that has turned a promising 2-2 start into a season that very well could be defined by the Yellow Jackets losing their final six games.

Georgia Tech has given up an average of 539.7 yards in the past seven games. The Yellow Jackets have failed to hold any of those seven opponents to under 489 yards, while three have amassed at least 563 yards.

While two of those opponents — No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 20 Pitt — are currently ranked and have a combined record of 19-3, the others — Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College — have a combined record of 26-29.

And now the Yellow Jackets face their best opponent of the season: Georgia (11-0), which averages 40.3 points per game and hasn’t been held under 30 points since a 10-3 win over Clemson to open the season.

Georgia and Georgia Tech didn’t play last season due to pandemic-related scheduling, but the Bulldogs hung 52 on the Yellow Jackets in 2019 and 45 on them a year earlier.

Georgia Tech has struggled to find continuity under center, as injuries have taken a toll on second-year starter Jeff Sims, who lost his starting job to redshirt freshman Jordan Yates the past two games.

“We’ve all got to be better,” Yates told reporters. “It’s really plain and simple, we’ve just got to be better.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart said the Yellow Jackets have made strides since the teams last met, even if it isn’t reflected in Georgia Tech’s record.

“The biggest thing is they’ve got more talent,” he said. “They’ve had injuries at the quarterback position, it’s been in-and-out, back-and-forth, but they always do a good job in the kicking game.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins shows emotion against the Boston College Eagles in the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Reeling Georgia Tech faces two giants to close out season

If Georgia Tech is going to show any improvement under third-year coach Geoff Collins this season, the reeling Yellow Jackets are going to have to pull off at least one of the biggest upsets in all of college football.

The Jackets (3-7) have won three games in each of the past two seasons under Collins. If they don’t find a way to win nonconference games at No. 9 Notre Dame (9-1) on Saturday or at home against top-ranked Georgia (10-0) on Nov. 27, they will have another one.

The Yellow Jackets finished with a losing record just three times in 11 seasons under Paul Johnson, whom Collins replaced after the 2018 season. They are already guaranteed their third one in as many seasons under Collins, as they’ve sunk toward the bottom of a very mediocre Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Yellow Jackets have gone 9-23 overall, including 7-18 in ACC play, under Collins. They won’t be 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 only missed out on bowl season twice since 1997.

“It’s frustrating, it hurts,” Collins told reporters. “But we’re just going to keep working.”

Georgia Tech has five losses by nine points or fewer and three by six or fewer this season.

“We’ve been so close,” safety Tariq Carpenter told reporters. “That’s the part that hurts.”

The past three weeks have been especially disheartening. After opening 3-4 that included losses to three of the ACC’s best teams — Clemson, Pittsburgh and Virginia — it appeared Georgia Tech could regain its footing against the league’s lesser teams.

Georgia Tech followed with losses to Virginia Tech and Miami before falling 41-30 on Saturday to visiting Boston College, which had won just once since September before rolling into Atlanta and amassing 505 yards of total offense.

Georgia Tech jumped out to a 21-7 lead after Jordan Yates’ two-yard run just over a minute into the second quarter. But the Eagles (6-4) scored the next 21 points to take a 28-21 lead at halftime they wouldn’t relinquish.

“We’ve just got to find a way, when we get up 21-7, we’ve got to shut the door on people,” Collins told reporters. “We just need to keep gaining momentum and gaining ground and not let go of the rope.”

Georgia Tech’s Jahmyr Gibbs, who scored on a 98-yard kickoff return in the first quarter, scored on a 4-yard run to pull the Yellow Jackets to 31-30 with 8:59 remaining in the game, but Brent Cimaglia missed the extra point. Boston College scored the next 10 points to put the game away.

Again, Georgia Tech’s defense was torched. Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec ran for three touchdowns and went 13-for-20 passing for 310 yards and two touchdowns.

The Yellow Jackets have given up an average of 337.3 passing yards, in addition to 11 touchdown passes, during their four-game losing streak.

The Yellow Jackets’ previous three opponents are a combined 16-14 and none has a winning record in league play.

Now, Georgia Tech closes against Notre Dame, which has won five straight and whose lone loss is to unbeaten Cincinnati. Georgia hasn’t been beaten this season and hasn’t lost in Atlanta to Georgia Tech this century.

“We have a lot of good players in that locker room,” Collins told reporters.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins walks on the sideline during the second half against the Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech narrowing gap, still in danger of missing bowl season

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins had said his Yellow Jackets have closed the distance between themselves and the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference, but that doesn’t make the losses easier to handle.

The Yellow Jackets’ 33-30 loss at Miami last Saturday was their fifth defeat by nine points or less and third by six points or less this season.

“We are showing progress,” Collins told reporters on Tuesday. “The team that you see out there competing every single week has grown and developed. I think that is obvious, the growth and development in this program. If you can’t see how much we have grown, how much we have developed, you don’t want to see it.”

The heart-breaking setbacks have pushed Georgia Tech (3-6, 2-5 ACC) to the brink of missing out on bowl eligibility. The Yellow Jackets must win their final three regular-season games, beginning on Saturday against Boston College (5-4, 1-4), to reach the six-win total required to be invited to a bowl game.

“We want to win every game,” Collins said. “Having Boston College — a really good ACC opponent — coming into town, our focus will be to find a way to win the game.”

The Yellow Jackets play at No. 10 Notre Dame (8-1) on Nov. 20 before hosting top-ranked Georgia (9-0), which they haven’t beaten in Atlanta this century, on Nov. 27 to close out the season.

The Yellow Jackets, who have lost three straight games and four of their past five, haven’t had the turnaround they envisioned under Collins in his third year as coach.

When 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 9-22 overall, including 7-17 in ACC play, under Collins. The team is in danger of not playing in a bowl game for the third straight season, something that hasn’t happened at Georgia Tech since the 1990s. Prior to Collins’ arrival, the Yellow Jackets had played in a bowl game in 20 of the previous 22 seasons dating to 1997.

The Yellow Jackets had their chances against Miami. Georgia Tech led 28-24 entering the fourth quarter before Andres Borregales’ 31-yard field goal cut the lead to 28-27 with 13:20 remaining. The Hurricanes took a 33-28 lead they wouldn’t relinquish on their next possession on Tyler Van Dyke’s third touchdown pass of the game, a 15-yard strike to Key’Shawn Smith with 10:27 remaining. Van Dyke completed 22 of 34 passes for 389 yards and no interceptions.

The loss was especially disheartening for the Yellow Jackets, considering they seemingly did everything that was needed to win. Jordan Mason had a 71-yard rushing touchdown, Jahmyr Gibbs added a 29-yard scoring run, Jaylon King returned a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown and the defense forced three turnovers.

But just like in its 26-17 loss to Virginia Tech a week earlier, the Yellow Jackets were burned by a receiver’s big game. Charleston Rambo had seven receptions for a whopping 210 yards and a touchdown a week after Virginia Tech’s Tre Turner torched Georgia Tech for 187 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.

–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

Oct 23, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Virginia Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) carries the ball as Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back Juanyeh Thomas (1) tackles during the first quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Brennan Armstrong totals 6 TDs as Virginia tops Georgia Tech

Brennan Armstrong passed for 396 yards, rushed for 99 and accounted for six touchdowns as Virginia held off Georgia Tech for a 48-40 win in Atlantic Coast Conference action Saturday night in Charlottesville, Va.

The Cavaliers (6-2, 4-2 ACC) won their fourth consecutive game. Armstrong, the FBS leader in passing yards coming into the weekend, completed 29 of 43 passes with four TDs and carried the ball 12 times with two scores.

Dontayvion Wicks had six catches for 168 yards and two TDs, Keytaon Thompson added 154 yards from scrimmage and Virginia rolled up 636 yards of offense.

Jeff Sims passed for 300 yards with three TDs and one interception and Jahmyr Gibbs rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown to lead the Yellow Jackets (3-4, 2-3), who finished with 570 yards of offense.

Georgia Tech led by 13 early, but Virginia scored 20 unanswered points spanning the second and third quarters to build a 27-16 lead.

Gibbs ended the drought with a 71-yard run and the Yellow Jackets added the two-point conversion to pull within 27-24.

Armstrong answered with his legs, rushing for TDs (4 and 14 yards) on Virginia’s next two possessions to take a 41-24 lead into the fourth quarter.

After a Georgia Tech field goal, Armstrong’s 20-yard scoring strike to Ra’Shaun Henry capped a 96-yard drive and made it 48-27 with 3:50 remaining.

Sims and the Yellow Jackets’ special teams made things interesting late.

Sims threw a 37-yard TD pass to Kalani Norris with 1:16 left and, after a successful onside kick, he completed a 5-yard TD to Kyric McGowan with 22 seconds to go to make it 48-40.

Another well-executed onside kick gave Georgia Tech a final possession at midfield. Sims’ heave into the end zone on the final play was batted down by Virginia’s Joey Blount.

The Yellow Jackets were rolling early. They struck first with Sims’ 36-yard pass to McGowan just 1:40 into the game, and made it 13-0 on a 3-yard run by Dontae Smith with 6:28 left in the first quarter.

Billy Kemp IV put the Cavs on the board late in the first quarter with a 1-yard pass from Armstrong.

After a field goal put Georgia Tech up 16-7, the rest of the second quarter belonged to Armstrong and Wicks.

Wicks’ first score was a leaping 13-yard grab over two defenders in the end zone. His second, after an interception by Blount, was a 77-yard catch-and-run that gave the Cavaliers their first lead at 21-16 with 6:36 left in the half.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Josh Downs (11) is tackled by Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets linebacker Charlie Thomas (25) in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

QB Jeff Sims, Georgia Tech demolish No. 21 North Carolina

Reserve quarterback Jeff Sims ran for three touchdowns and passed for another as Georgia Tech knocked off No. 21 North Carolina 45-22 on Saturday night in Atlanta.

Georgia Tech (2-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), which flirted with an upset a week earlier at Clemson, produced its first signature victory under third-year coach Geoff Collins.

Sims gained 128 yards on 10 carries as part of Georgia Tech’s 261-yard rushing attack. He capped it with a 50-yard touchdown run.

North Carolina (2-2, 1-2) has lost both its road games, this time despite Sam Howell’s 306 yards on 25-for-39 passing for two touchdowns. He lost fumbles three times.

Jahmyr Gibbs scored on a 4-yard run with 5:39 to play in the third quarter as Georgia Tech extended its lead to 27-7.

The Tar Heels struck back less than two minutes later on Howell’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Kamari Morales.

On Georgia Tech’s next possession, one play after converting a fourth-and-3 on Sims’ pass to Kyric McGowan, Malachi Carter made an incredible catch on the side of the end zone on a 27-yard pass. The Yellow Jackets tacked on a two-point conversion on a trick play.

Again, North Carolina wasted little time finding the end zone. Howell connected with Josh Downs on a 4-yard scoring play and a two-point conversion.

Georgia Tech then ate up more than seven minutes before Brent Cimaglia’s 31-yard field for a 38-22 lead.

North Carolina began the game much better, scoring first on Howell’s tackle-breaking 23-yard run. That came after Gio Biggers blocked a Georgia Tech punt, so the Tar Heels needed to go only 40 yards.

A pair of Cimaglia field goals in a span of less than a minute got Georgia Tech going. Then the Yellow Jackets went ahead when Sims scored on an 11-yard quarterback keeper.

Those last two scoring possessions of the half came after North Carolina turnovers gave Georgia Tech possession inside the Tar Heels’ 20-yard line.

Howell was sacked five times in the first half.

The game was played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, rather than at Georgia Tech’s campus stadium.

–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