On the ensuing Yellow Jackets drive, head coaches Paul Johnson and Mark Stoops got in a shouting match over Tech’s blocking tactics after Kentucky players were injured on back-to-back plays. Georgia Tech was able to drive to Kentucky’s red zone, but were stopped at the 5-yard line. Kentucky was in possession of the ball going into the second quarter. For the Yellow Jacket offense, Dedrick Mills who took over as the lead back going into the bowl game had a career day .
QB Grant Wells put forth a good effort for the losing side as he passed for one TD and 243 yards on 22 attempts in addition to punching in two rushing touchdowns. Near the top of the highlight reel was Wells’ 85-yard TD bomb to WR Kaleb Smith in the third quarter. Wells’ sharp performance set his single-game rushing touchdown high for the season.
Heading into the game, Kentucky was ranked 54th in the nation in scoring (31.0) and 57th in total yards (428.3). Like Georgia Tech, the Wildcats utilized a run-heavy offense, ranking 16th in the nation in rushing offense (241.3) but only 106th in passing offense (187.0). The offense was led by running backs privateavacado Stanley Williams and Benny Snell, who both rushed for over 1,000 yards and combined for 20 rushing touchdowns on the season. Mills, a running back from nearby Waycross, Ga., who has had an eventful freshman season — on and off the field — gained 169 yards on 31 carries and seniors Patrick Gamble and P.J.
Meanwhile, Kentucky failed to build off its upset of Louisville in the bowl game. While the Wildcats’ victory over the Cardinals provided the season with a memorable moment, blowout losses to Alabama and Florida showed how much work is left to do if they want to compete atop the powerful SEC. Thomas is a player to watch as he attempts to earn a spot in the NFL. The Yellow Jackets began the season 3–0, before losing three games in a row to become 3–3 halfway through the season. Georgia Tech went 5–1 the second half of the season, ending their regular season in a 28–27 victory over their rivals Georgia. This was a mixed display for Justin Thomas, which was reflected in his game grades—80.7 as a rusher, but 62.2 as a passer.
Here is a list of the Upstate high school football athletes who will play college football next season. The Tech defense had another key moment in the second quarter, when the Wildcats went for a first down on fourth-and-goal at the Jackets’ 5. Some school’s results have been altered by retroactive NCAA penalties.
On defense, Kentucky was ranked 87th in the nation in scoring defense (31.2) and 88th in yards allowed per game (435.9). The Wildcats’ defense struggled especially against the run, possessing the 108th ranked rushing defense and allowing an average of 225 rushing yards per game. But the MVP of Saturday’s game outside Dedrick Mills may very well be senior kicker Harrison Butker. Butker had a Georgia Tech bowl game record four field goals on Saturday including a 52-yard field goal that closed out the first half. Thomas proceeded to complete a key throw to Brad Stewart on fourth down to move into scoring range. Harrison Butker connected on a 52-yard field goal as the clock expired to put his team up 17 at halftime.
The victory on Saturday was Georgia Tech’s third win over an SEC East opponent this season, also picking up victories over Georgia and Vanderbilt. Their three SEC East victories would’ve tied them with South Carolina in the SEC East standings and would’ve been ahead of Vanderbilt and Missouri. The Hokies are a 3.5-point favorite against the Yellow Jackets, according to the latest college football odds.
Much like Justin Thomas, Stephen Johnson was at his most dangerous with his feet, earning a 75.5 grade as a rusher, compared to just 59.3 as a passer. However, where Thomas earned most of his rushing yards on designed runs, Johnson got his on passing plays, averaging 7.7 yards per scramble. As often happens with teams that aren’t used to facing a triple-option offense, the Wildcats struggled to deal with it. Georgia Tech’s aggressive cut-blocking and the success of their blocking at the second level ensured that the Yellow Jackets’ runners had solid running lanes to attack.
Mills bounced back to score a key fourth-quarter touchdown in the Jackets’ victory over Georgia. Thomas and Ricky Jeune hooked up on a crucial third down from midfield on the ensuing drive for a 42-yard Georgia Tech gain. Mills powered into the end zone three plays later to seal the game for the Yellow Jackets. As expected, the Jackets turned down the tempo in the second half and leaned heavily on their rushing attack to run out the clock. The strategy was effective in a third quarter that witnessed only one score, another Butker field goal. The Yellow Jackets defense, which came up with a key fourth-down stop before the offense’s long touchdown journey, came up big again to close out the second quarter.
Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from Georgia Tech’s TaxSlayer Bowl victory over Kentucky. Against the University of Georgia in Tech’s most time-endured rivalry, called Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. For his part, Heisman led Georgia Tech to an undefeated 12–0–1 record in the Georgia Tech–Clemson football rivalry. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have won three straight games and five of their last six, and look to keep rolling as they take on Kentucky in the TaxSlayer Bowl. The Wildcats are 7-5 and have not won or lost more than three games in a row at any point all season. Build your custom FanSided Daily email newsletter with news and analysis on Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and all your favorite sports teams, TV shows, and more.