Georgia Tech didn't dwell on the mistakes that nearly put a depleted North Carolina team in control of the game. Instead, the Yellow Jackets focused on what they do best: running the ball, fighting for every yard and wearing down the defense.
Joshua Nesbitt ran for a touchdown and threw for another to help them beat the Tar Heels, 30-24, on Saturday, extending Georgia Tech's recent dominance in the series against a team left short-handed again by an ongoing NCAA investigation.
Nesbitt ran for a tying touchdown late in the third quarter, then directed the drive that ended with Scott Blair's go-ahead field goal early in the fourth. Orwin Smith and Roddy Jones also scored touchdowns for visiting Georgia Tech (2-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which overcame second-half miscues after a mistake-free opening half to hang on for its 11th win in 13 meetings.
The defending ACC champion lost at Kansas to fall out of the rankings last week, prompting coach Paul Johnson to say he wanted this players to "show me, don't tell me" that they had learned from their mistakes. This time, at least, they proved they could overcome them.
"Anytime you win, I'm happy. It's hard to win," Johnson said. "People who take winning for granted aren't very smart, because it's hard. I don't know in my three years if we've had any easy wins. They're all hard."
Johnny White ran for a career-high 113yards and a touchdown for the Tar Heels (0-2, 0-1), who again tried to play through the distraction of an NCAA probe into agent-related benefits and possible academic misconduct. Twelve players sat out, including NFL prospects Marvin Austin, Robert Quinn, Deunta Williams and Kendric Burney on defense.
The Yellow Jackets took advantage with their triple-option attack, running for 372 yards and dominating possession after the Tar Heels got off to a fast start. North Carolina led 17-14 after five possessions, but the Yellow Jackets ran off 57 of the next 69 offensive plays while controlling the ball for 291/2 of the next 34 minutes.
VIRGINIA TECH 49, EAST CAROLINA 27: David Wilson ran for two touchdowns and Darren Evans added a rushing score to lead the Hokies (1-2) to a win over the visiting Pirates (2-1).
Virginia Tech rallied from a 10-0 deficit, scoring 28 unanswered points in the second half.
The Hokies won their first game of the season despite losing standout tailback Ryan Williams, a redshirt sophomore who broke Tech's single-season rushing record last season (1,655 yards). Williams injured his right hamstring with 7:24 left in the first half and did not return.
Virginia Tech trailed 27-21 in the third quarter, but took the lead when Wilson scored on a 3-yard run with 4:34 left in the quarter. The Hokies' defense held the East Carolina on the ensuing possession.
Wilson, a sophomore, scored on an 8-yard run with 29 seconds remaining in the quarter to give Tech a 35-27 lead.