#TGW: Back on Track
Wild win at Pitt keeps Tech in hunt for division title
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
- As strange games go, Georgia Tech's 56-28 win at Pittsburgh surely would make any list, but the fact that the Yellow Jackets solidified their spot on the list that matters the most - in the ACC's Coastal division standings - was the great takeaway from a prosperous trip to the Steel City.
Chances are no Tech player or coach will ever again be involved in a game where the opposing team fumbles away its first five possessions.
The Jackets did their share of taking, too, running up 612 yards of total offense, and rushing for 465 against a Pitt defense that had been ranked among the nation's stingiest units.
But who cares now about that detail more than the fact that the Jackets (6-2, 3-2) broke a two-game losing streak to re-trench themselves in the midst of the Coastal race?
Only one team in the division has fewer than two losses, and Duke (6-1, 2-1) still has to play at Pitt and Syracuse, and against Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest.
"It was a heck of a game ... I'm happy to win and stay alive in the conference race so we can become bowl eligible, which would be for the eighteenth year in a row. I think that's big," said head coach Paul Johnson. "This makes the game next week even more important.
"There are a lot of things that we can correct but, it's easier to correct them when we win compared to when we lose."
Indeed, Tech is back on track but with some wobble in the wheels.
The warmest and fuzziest story line from Tech's first trip to Pittsburgh since 1920 was the way senior B-back Synjyn Days filled in for injured starter Zack Laskey.
Days rushed a career-high 22 times for a career-high 110 yards.
For added good measure, junior A-back Broderick Snoddy flashed more speed than ever in rushing six times for 82 yards and three touchdowns.
There was no shortage of offense in Heinz Field. Pitt turned the ball over six times, yet the Panthers still managed great success offensively, too.
James Connor rushed for 120 yards on just 10 carries, and Pitt had 198 yards on the ground while passing for another 328.
Tech safety Isaiah Johnson was in the middle of a good-news-bad-news assessment. The senior was in on a season-high 14 combined tackles and assists, and continues to improve his overall play and tackling to approach where he was two years ago before a serious knee injury took him down.
But, "You normally wouldn't like your safety to have to make 14 tackles," coach Johnson said.
It was a weird game.
As the Jackets kept forcing Panther fumbles, Tech senior linebacker Quayshawn Nealy and his teammates kept wondering.
"That was definitely a wild thing," he said. "I was thinking in my head, `Wow did this just happen again?' At the same time I was hoping it would happen over and over again."
With Virginia (4-4, 2-2) due in Bobby Dodd Stadium Saturday at 3:30, the Jackets have plenty to play for with four regular-season games left.
Another week like the last would be welcome. Nealy liked it because, "It was very up-tempo [in practice] and we were trying to get that nasty taste out of our mouths."
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