Take it and run. Virginia sure wasn’t going to.
How do you explain a football team that turns five turnovers into exactly zero points. Tech kept giving Virginia the ball, and the Cavaliers kept finding creative ways to blow the opportunity.
It was like watching the Salvation Army torch a clothes drive.
Virginia’s five unplanned possessions went like this:
1. Tech fumbles. Virginia drives, but misses a field-goal attempt.
2. Tech fumbles. Virginia drives, lines up for a field-goal try, but Tech gets called for offside, making it fourth-and-1 from the 10. Coach Mike London pulls his field-goal unit off the field, then quarterback David Watford throws a dreadful incompletion to his fullback.
3. Tech fumbles. Virginia goes three-and-out.
4. Tech throws an interception. Virginia punts again.
5. Tech throws another interception. Virginia drives to the Jackets’ 2 with 16 seconds left in the half. But London mismanages the clock — and his employment on campus also may be on the clock. The Cavs’ Kevin Parks gains only 1 yard, and London calls timeout with six seconds left. He again bypasses the field goal, calls an unimaginitive running play for Parks, and he gets stuffed for no gain.
Five turnovers. Zero points.
So Johnson gets a win, but loses a charitable tax deduction.
Johnson believed his players were making progress, particularly after last week’s near-flawless performance in a 56-0 win over Syracuse. This caused him to reassess matters.
“It was unforced turnovers,” he said. “Just dropping the ball. It’s hard to explain. … I mean, we pitched one over our head.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. I thought we were getting better at some of that stuff.”
Actually, some stuff, they are.
It’s not like there weren’t positive moments. Tech finished with 507 yards in offense, including 394 rushing. Three backs — Zach Laskey (133 yards, two touchdowns), Robert Godhigh (111, one TD), David Sims (107, two TDs), all went over 100 yards. Quarterback Vad Lee had some shaky moments (fumble, interception) but he also had two big completions in the fourth quarter that helped seal the win: a 13-yarder to DeAndre Smelter on third-and-9 (Godhigh ran 65 yards for a touchdown on the next play); a 38-yarder to Godhigh with less than three minutes left to extend a drive and kill the clock.
There were flaws, but this isn’t the time for the Jackets to get picky.
If you’re Tech, Georgia or the Falcons, you take any win and run. All three are far past caring about style points. Each team has been beaten up in its own unique way. All are just looking for wins.
The Jackets understand that despite their recent three-game losing streak, they’re now 5-3 with at least two likely regular-season wins remaining (Pittsburgh, Alabama A&M) and two other games that they could view as winnable (Clemson, which has a recent history of fizzling against them) and Georgia (which is spiraling).
“Losing three in a row … we just had to make up our minds how we wanted our season to go,” defensive end Emmanuel Dieke said. “It was up to us to decide whether we wanted to salvage our season or lose. We had to take control. We have four games left, and we expect to win them all.”
And how they get there doesn’t matter.