By CODY MCGHEE
ATLANTA — A late 56-yard field goal was all that separated Georgia Tech from possibly winning its first Atlantic Coast Conference matchup of the year Saturday, when Pittsburgh defeated the Yellow Jackets 31-28.
Victory has yet to be closer for Georgia Tech (2-5, 0-4 ACC) this season as the Yellow Jackets continue to search for its first ACC win.
“I think the kids are playing hard. It’s not the effort,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “Right now we just have to make one more play. We are not good enough to make one more play.”
Johnson looked for his defense to make a play to stop Pittsburgh’s final drive, but the Yellow Jackets defense did not perform. Panthers kicker Chris Blewitt made a 56-yard field goal with 1:11 remaining to give his team the three-point lead.
“Well, right now, we are not very good on defense,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to find a way to get better. And, having said that, we had our chances.”
On Pittsburgh’s final drive, the Panthers twice faced a fourth down and twice they converted, keeping the drive alive.
The Yellow Jackets had a chance to tie with a minute remaining, but could not find points. With time expiring, Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas threw one last deep ball in hopes of a miracle, only to have it intercepted by Avonte Maddox.
Things are looking up for the Yellow Jackets, though. Explosive plays were something the Georgia Tech offense lacked early in the season, and Saturday they had a huge game.
True freshman running back Marcus Marshall averaged almost 16 yards per carry for the Yellow Jackets offense, which eclipsed 400 rushing yards.
“It looked like what we are used to doing,” Johnson said. “And, yeah, we have played some good defenses.”
Thomas helped lead the Yellow Jackets offense with his own 95-yard rushing performance, while also throwing for 106 more yards.
Moving forward, the schedule only gets tougher for the Yellow Jackets, with games against an undefeated Florida State team, Miami, and in-state rival Georgia.
“Anytime anyone’s down we’ve got people who lift them up,” Yellow Jackets defensive end Keshun Freeman said. “We can’t just sit there and settle for what has happened. We can’t look at the things that we lost. We’ve got to look forward to the things we can gain.”
The Yellow Jackets face Florida State (6-0, 4-0 ACC) next Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.