Paul Johnson’s bold strategy didn’t pay off.
Knowing that his defense couldn’t stop the No. 25 Tennessee Volunteers, the Yellow Jackets coach made a gutsy call in the second overtime. Quarterback TaQuon Marshall had just rushed for his fifth touchdown of the game and instead of attempting a kick to tie and force another overtime period, Johnson decided to go for the victory with a 2-point conversion.
“Coach [Johnson] told us at the beginning of the drive -‘We’re going to score and we’re going for two. We’re going to try and win this thing,’” Marshall said.
The Yellow Jackets scored in four plays to make it 42-41. Tech’s offense, which was averaging 6.2 yards per rush needed just two yards to win, however Tennessee’s defense stuffed Marshall at the line of scrimmage.
“We screwed it up,” Johnson said. “That should have been a walk-in. ... so we didn't deserve to win.”
“It was a counter action,” Johnson said when describing how it was intended to result in the guard pulling as a lead blocker.
However, both left guard Parker Braun and right tackle Will Bryan missed their blocking assignments.
“The quarterback had to turn up and there was nobody on the linebacker, and then he pitched it late, but he had to kind of throw it out there,” Johnson said. Replays showed that the running back likely had a clear lane to the goal line if the pitch had been made early.
Marshall, who ran for a Georgia Tech quarterback record 249 yards and five touchdowns, said he takes responsibility.
“We had numbers on the backside,” Marshall said. “Reversed and tried to get out of it. They overran us and I thought I could get up under it. We tried to make the play at the time but it might have been a little selfish of me. But, you’ve got to put it in the past and move on.”