Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas falls down as Miami linebacker Shaquille Quarterman (55) runs for a touchdown after he picked up Thomas’ fumble the ball in the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium Saturday. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Fumbles stagger Jackets against No. 14 Miami

The biggest plays belonged to No. 14 Miami, and so did the game.

Moving the ball with the pass and making two game-tilting defensive scores within a span of three plays, the Hurricanes gave Georgia Tech its second loss in a row, a 35-21 defeat at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Tech (3-2 overall, 1-2 ACC) gave up two fumble returns for touchdowns in the second quarter, giving Miami (4-0, 1-0) enough of an edge to secure victory. After gaining 124 yards of offense against Clemson — a team low in coach Paul Johnson’s tenure — the Jackets’ offensive production returned, as Tech amassed 361 yards against the Hurricanes. B-back Dedrick Mills scored three touchdowns, tying his career high, and ran for a career-best 99 yards.

However, the Jackets didn’t have enough answers for Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya, who led scoring drives of 85, 90 and 75 yards (possessions that required only a combined 21 plays) and threw for 241 yards on 13-for-19 passing.

The key plays of the game, though, were made by the Miami defense. After the Hurricanes scored to take a 14-7 lead with 6:42 to play in the first half, Justin Thomas was sacked by end Trent Harris and fumbled, and linebacker Shaq Quarterman picked up the ball and ran it in 17 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead. On the second play of Tech’s next possession, Thomas lost control of the ball pulling back an option pitch. End Joe Jackson scooped up the ball and ran uncontested for an 18-yard score and a 28-7 lead.

Tech challenged in the second half, closing the lead to 28-21 in the third quarter, but the Hurricanes answered with a four-play, 75-yard drive to push the lead back to 35-21, which proved the final score.

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