Defensive lineman Pat Gamble #91 (RS SR) and Kyle Cerge-Henderson #54 (So) rushing UNC Quarterback Mitch Trubinsky #10

CHAPEL HILL, NC - After giving up 559 yards and edging a win against Duke the week before, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets' defense showed no sign of being able to cure any of its afflictions in Chapel Hill when it surrendered 636 yards to 21st-ranked Tar Heels in a devastating and physically taxing 48-20 loss.

When asked how he felt about the game during the post-game press conference, defensive back Corey Griffin didn't mince words. "It was definitely embarrassing. I'm embarrassed. The whole team is embarrassed," the redshirt junior said.

The Tech offense couldn't carry the team to a victory this time around as it failed to take full advantage of its opportunities even while racking up 518 yards. The offense only mustered to score on three out of six attempts in the red zone with just a single touchdown and a pair of field goals.

In woeful contrast, the defense gave up scores in all five red zone chances with only one being a field goal. UNC converted 8-of-13 third downs and only punted once.

As if not wanting to be left out, even special teams joined in on the game of adversity when often sure-footed Harrison Butker kicked a line drive right into the welcoming hands of UNC defenders.

"They didn't get any real penetration when the jumpers blocked it, we kicked it low. That was a huge play right before half, that cuts it to one score," lamented Head Coach Paul Johnson after the game as if he was playing pivotal mishaps of the game over-and-over in his head.

There was a glimmer of hope that the offense could have at least balanced out the defensive unit's struggles during Tech's third possession of the game. Quarterback Justin Thomas slow-played a counter option then whipped the ball over UNC's defensive backfield to a wide open Clinton Lynch who took it home for an 83-yard touchdown.

Nevertheless, the outlook started to look bleak with only a few minutes remaining in the third quarter when an attempt to keep the game to a single score broke down yet again and Carolina recovered a fumble by Dedrick Mills at Tech's own 44 yard line. Six plays and two third-down conversions later, UNC's tailback TJ Logan brushed by a couple of arm tackles then dove into the end zone for a 20-yard rushing touchdown to put Carolina up by three scores. This would end up being one of Tech's two turnovers of the game out of four fumbles total.

Coach Johnson summed the game up concisely: "We played about as poorly as you could play on defense and wasn't much better on offense or special teams so deadly combination."

Last but not least, what will make this loss a bitter pill to swallow for the Tech program is not only because of the final score but due to injuries to both RS SR starters Freddie Burden and Justin Thomas in the second half of the game. Neither returned for the remainder of the game.

Tech fans will be waiting with bated breaths for Thursday's official injury report as the Jackets will travel to Blacksburg to play against current ACC Coastal Division leader Virginia Tech on November 12th.


Georgia Tech Quarterback Justin Thomas (#5)

ATLANTA, GA – Brush off your shoulder pads, Justin Thomas. Be careful though – you might find a team of Yellow Jackets still hanging on after 60 minutes of brilliance.

Let’s be real though. The senior captain and team leader can’t do anything with his shoulder pads until he first takes off his cape. That’s because Thomas’ performance Saturday afternoon at Bobby Dodd Stadium draws few comparisons, and Superman feels more similar than the names of mere mortals.

Admittedly that’s still hyperbole. There have been three other quarterbacks since 2000 to run for 190+ rushing yards, pass for 250+ yards more, and put up a pair of touchdowns on the ground and through the air in a single game.

The other three – Johnny Manziel, Denard Robinson and Antwaan Randle El.

Thomas finished the game 10 of 14 passing for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns. He added another 2 touchdowns via 17 carries and 195 yards rushing. And in what became a Homecoming barnburner versus Duke, Georgia Tech needed every one of those.

Despite sprinting out to a 28-7 halftime lead, the Yellow Jackets saw their lead evaporate and trailed midway thru the 4th quarter. Two Georgia Tech turnovers – one on offense and another on special teams – as well as a porous defense enabled the Blue Devils to score touchdowns on 4 consecutive drives in the second half and ultimately take the lead with 8:55 remaining in the game.

That’s when Justin Thomas transformed back into “Smoov”, a nickname bestowed on him by former teammates and a variant of his “smooth” style of play. While needing a touchdown drive to take back the lead, the adjective also described his leadership style when rallying his teammates.

“I told them we have to go score,” Thomas said simply when asked about his message to the team prior to that critical drive. “No matter what the situation was, we have to control the ball and get some numbers on the board. And that’s what we did.”

Wide receiver Ricky Jeune said of Thomas, ”He was just telling everybody the ball is going to be in our hands to win the game, and it was. And he made some great plays for us, some big run plays.”

It wasn’t easy, as even Superman has a kryptonite. The Jackets’ first offensive snap while trailing ended with a 9-yard jailbreak sack, one of only a few lapses in pass protection on the day.

But a 2nd and 19 from the Georgia Tech 5 yard line did not phase Smoov. Thomas dropped back, shook two Duke defenders and put on his afterburners on the way to a 46 yard scramble. Four plays later Thomas found A-Back Clinton Lynch on a seam route, fitting the ball into a narrow window with a Duke safety draped on, resulting in a 22 yard touchdown catch and 38-35 Georgia Tech lead.

From there, the Yellow Jackets defense stood tall on its own game-defining drive, forcing the Blue Devils into their first 3 and out and a punt. Needing just a couple first downs to ice the game, the Jackets offense did just that. And in doing so, faced with a 3rd and 17, Thomas sealed the victory with another 50 yard burst.

It is human nature to get caught in hype. Even with Justin Thomas’ superhuman performance, it is not his modus operandi. “It will be fun to go back and watch. I’m just out there trying to have fun, embracing every moment I can and just enjoying it overall.”

By the 2nd quarter of today’s performance Thomas joined another elite club, achieving 4,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing for his career. He is the 39th FBS player reach that milestone. Asked for his thoughts, Thomas deflected credit toward his teammates for putting him in a position to succeed.

Maybe, just maybe, the masses can hang with him after all.