By JIMMY ROBERTSON Associated Press
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – No starting quarterback? No problem for Georgia Tech.
With Justin Thomas on the sideline with an injury, backup quarterback Matthew Jordan rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 30-20 upset of No. 18 Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Thomas dressed for the game, but didn’t play after an undisclosed injury last week at North Carolina. The Yellow Jackets (6-4, 3-4 ACC) didn’t miss a beat, and Jordan, who made his first career start, repeatedly gashed the Hokies’ defense. He carried the ball 32 times and scored on runs of 53 and 3 yards.
“I really didn’t know until warm-ups to be honest,” Jordan said. “I think I was a little bit nervous when we first started off. Once the game went along, I think I settled down.”
Marcus Marshall added 143 yards rushing and a score for the Yellow Jackets, who rushed for 309 yards. They also became bowl eligible.
“I told our kids after that game that 6-6 is not what we’re after,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “Once we were out of the conference race, I challenged our team to try and win nine games. If you go back and look at the last 50 years here, it hasn’t been done a lot.”
Georgia Tech’s win was just the third road win over a ranked team in Johnson’s tenure as coach. He took over in 2008.
Virginia Tech (7-3, 5-2, No. 14 CFP), which was looking to clinch the ACC’s Coastal Division crown, played its worst game of the season. The Hokies turned the ball over four times, botched a short field-goal attempt, and had a terrible snap right before halftime that ultimately led to Jordan’s 3-yard touchdown run. That score gave them a 20-0 halftime lead.
The Hokies’ Jerod Evans threw a touchdown pass and ran for two scores – the latter two coming with the game already decided.
“In the end, we didn’t play well enough,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “We didn’t deserve to win the ball game. Credit to them.”
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets’ defense gave up 636 yards of offense in a 48-20 loss at North Carolina a week ago, but the group held Virginia Tech to 437 yards and sacked Evans five times.
“I think our defensive players were probably tired of hearing how bad they were,” Johnson said.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies – who hadn’t turned the ball over in their previous three games – need to find their groove on offense. They only mustered a field goal in the second half against Duke a week ago, didn’t score in the first half against Georgia Tech, and had 182 of their yards on their final two drives when trailing 30-7.
Voters could drop Virginia Tech down or out of the AP Top 25 when the new list comes out Sunday.
Georgia Tech: Returns home for the final home game of the season and takes on Virginia, the last-place team in the ACC’s Coastal Division.
Virginia Tech: Travels to South Bend, Indiana, to take on Notre Dame in the first meeting between the two programs.