By PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Qua Searcy leaped into the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown with 30 seconds left on what appeared to be a busted play, capping a fourth-quarter comeback that carried Georgia Tech to a stunning 28-27 victory over Georgia on Saturday.
The Bulldogs built a 27-14 lead and appeared to be in total control after stopping Georgia Tech (8-4) on a fourth-down play near midfield early in the final period.
But the Yellow Jackets put together a 94-yard scoring drive to make a game of it, and then came up with a huge turnover when it looked like Georgia (7-5) was prepared to ice the victory. Jacob Eason’s threw an errant pass in the flats that deflected off Terry Godwin and was intercepted by Lance Austin at the Bulldogs 46 with 3:39 remaining.
The offense took it from there. Justin Thomas completed a 16-yard pass to Clinton Lynch and Marcus Marshall ripped off a 13-yard run before the Yellow Jackets faced third-and-goal at the Georgia 6.
Thomas pitched the ball to Searcy, who looked as though he wanted to throw the ball back across the field to Thomas drifting into the left flat. But the Bulldogs had the quarterback covered, so Searcy took off through an opening up the middle, soared through the air at the 3 with the ball outstretched in front of him, and managed to just get it over the goal line.
Harrison Butker’s extra point gave Georgia Tech its second straight victory at Sanford Stadium.
When Eason’s desperation heave was picked off to end the game, the Yellow Jackets stormed the field to celebrate, defiantly planting their gold flag in the “G” in the middle of the field. Meanwhile, Georgia lineman Greg Pyke slung his helmet across the field in frustration.
Thomas completed 6 of 10 for 164 yards as the run-oriented Yellow Jackets actually outgained Georgia through the air. Sony Michel led the Bulldogs with a career-best 170 yards rushing.
Georgia Tech: The victory is a huge boost for coach Paul Johnson, who has now beaten Georgia two of the last three years. His future is sure to be one of the first things that new athletic director Todd Stansbury addresses when he takes over Monday. While there is plenty of debate about whether the triple-option offense has run its course in Atlanta, with many fans clamoring for a more traditional formation, Johnson turned things around after going 3-9 last season.
Georgia: Kirby Smart endured plenty of ups and downs in his first season as a head coach, and this was quite a bummer to finish off the regular season. While Eason and a promising young defense will surely raise hopes heading into 2017, a loss to the Yellow Jackets is no way to build good feelings among the Georgia fan base. It’s worth noting that previous coach Mark Richt lost to Georgia Tech only twice in 15 years. Smart is halfway to that total after his debut year.
Georgia Tech: After missing out on a bowl last season, the Yellow Jackets have been mentioned as a candidate for the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland.
Georgia: The Bulldogs are possibly headed to the Music City Bowl in Nashville.
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