ACC COASTAL WIDE OPEN AFTER BOTH TECHS LOSE

By Maura Sheridan

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets saw their College Football Playoff dreams dashed when they fell to ACC rivals Duke on Week Four of college football, cementing their second loss in two weeks. Week Three’s loss to Notre Dame seemed excusable, as the 6th ranked Fighting Irish were expected to pull out the win.   Many expected Paul Johnson and company to bounce back from last week’s loss against unranked Duke. The Blue Devils did not allow that and showed they can make some noise in the ACC, bashing Tech’s playoff dreams. David Cutcliffe’s team played exceptionally and highlighted some of the Yellow Jacket’s key weaknesses. Lack of intensity on the defensive side of the ball to start the game caused Georgia Tech to fall into a deficit they could not recover from. They allowed Duke to score three touchdowns in the first fifteen minutes of the game. The defense turned it around, especially in the second half, but the with the offense also struggling the Yellow Jacket’s could not rally.

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The Justin Thomas led offense struggled yet again to move the ball down the field. Through the third quarter Georgia Tech only had 13 points and 103 rushing yards. Starting quarterback Thomas went 6-21, threw an interception, and fumbled, stats that won’t win him games in the competitive ACC. Still the biggest problem wasn’t offense or defense, it was special teams. Duke ran one punt pack for 69 yards to the one-yard line that resulted in a Blue Devil touchdown and DeVon Edwards returned another punt for a hundred yards in the third quarter.   With 169 yards combined on those two returns alone, only four yards less then Georgia Tech’s rushing total for the game (173). Although Georgia Tech did not play up to their top 25 ranking, that does not take the credit away from the Blue Devils. Edward’s full field rush was spectacular and safety Jeremy Cash notched twelve tackles and forced two fumbles to lead the Blue Devil’s stifling defense. Shaquille Powell ran for three touchdowns, scoring more himself then Georgia Tech did as a team.

Not to far away from Durham, NC in Greenville, Virginia Tech lost to host East Carolina for the second year in a row, 35-28. It was the first loss as a starter for Hokie’s backup quarterback, Brenden Motely. Motley still had a solid outing throwing for 281, but threw his first pick this year, according to the Richmond Times. As the most penalized team in the ACC, the Hokie’s continued to rack up the flags against the Pirates. Frank Beamer’s team committed 11 penalties for a total of 89 yards. While the constant penalties have been a problem all season, East Carolina presented a new and surprising problem, backup QB James Summers. Summers came into the game in the second half, threw one touchdown pass, and ran for two others, for a rushing total of 169 yards. Virginia Tech had no answer for Summers, who also added 110 yards passing. Do the Pirates just have the Hokie’s number or is this tough loss a reflection of what fans should expect from Brenden Motely and squad for the year? Now with a 2-2 record, with the only other loss being to the number one Ohio State Buckeyes, Beamer’s team looks to win their first ACC game against Pittsburgh.

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What do these two losses mean for the ACC Coastal? Well it means if the conference wasn’t already wide open, it is now. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are now both 2-2, but both still have the opportunity to win the conference. Miami is undefeated so far and the performance of North Carolina backup QB Mitch Tribusky makes both the Hurricanes and the Tar Heels a threat. Not to mention Duke, which proved that they can beat ranked teams this weekend. It is truly anybody’s conference to win, and anybody’s to lose.   With Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech losing, the race for the ACC Coastal title just got more interesting.

All stats courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise stated.

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