Ga. Tech notes: Preston Lyons breaks out in finale

EL PASO, Texas — Georgia Tech B-back Preston Lyons’ last game as a Yellow Jacket turned out to be his best.

Starting in place of the injured David Sims, who had a hamstring injury, Lyons ran for a game-high 138 yards with a touchdown on 18 carries. He got the Jackets going in the first half with a 58-yard run up the middle, Tech’s longest run play since the Kansas game. He kept it going on a 36-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that tied the game at 7.

The carries, yards and long run were all career bests, which previously were nine, 42 and 36, respectively.

“He ran hard [Saturday],” quarterback Tevin Washington said. “He did a good job hitting the hole when he had a chance to make a play.”

Lyons and Tech exploited Utah’s scheme, which had its linebackers running laterally and opened up lanes. In the second half, Lyons said, the Utes linebackers began to “squat” and stay in the middle. Lyons gained all but 9 of his yards before halftime.

It was the first 100-yard game for a B-back this season and the first 100-yard game for any running back since the Kansas game. Lyons was hampered by an ankle injury originally suffered against Virginia Tech.

“It was my last game, so I just had to put it all out there because after this, I’ve got a lot of time to heal,” he said.

After struggling in the second half of the season, Washington likewise had a strong passing game, completing 11 of 15 passes for 137 yards with one touchdown and showing touch and accuracy.

Watching as always

By attending, Roderick and Barbara Sylvester, parents of Tech linebacker and captain Steven Sylvester, managed to make every game that he played in his four-year career, home and away. They made the 22-hour drive with their son Roderick Jr. from their home in McDonough, caravanning with the families of cornerback Jamal Golden and Washington. Roderick Sr. missed many of his son’s games when he was in the military and told his son he would go to all of his games at Tech.

“You can’t make up for lost time, but I promised Steven, as long as I’m healthy, you can look up [in the stands] and know we will be there,” he said.

Opportunity missed

Among Tech’s many missed chances came on the first play of overtime. On a play-action pass, wide receiver Stephen Hill sprung open and could have scored if Washington had gotten him the ball. However, Washington was pressured and dumped the ball off to Lyons, who made a 2-yard gain. Tech couldn’t gain a first down and settled for a Justin Moore field goal, which was made moot when Utah scored a touchdown on its possession.

“He had to throw the ball real fast, so he didn’t have a chance to look [for Hill],” coach Paul Johnson said.

Hill said he was undecided about entering the NFL draft. Hill requested a draft evaluation from the NFL draft advisory board, but hasn’t received it yet. The deadline for entry is Jan. 15. Guard Omoregie Uzzi, who also requested an evaluation, said Wednesday that he also had not made up his mind.


Moore set a school single-season record for most point-after attempts, makes and consecutive makes by going 3-for-3 on Saturday. He finished the season 56-for-56, breaking the 53-for-53 record set by former kicker Luke Manget in 1999. Safety Rashaad Reid tied former kicker Scott Blair’s school record for most career games played, at 53. ... Braves legend Dale Murphy was at the game, cheering for his son Jake, a Utah tight end. ... The attendance was 48,123, the lowest since the 2001 Sun Bowl. The stadium’s capacity is 50,426. Roughly 2,000 Tech fans attended the game.