Posted on: December 31, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 7:19 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
UTAH WON. Utah trailed 24-10 in the fourth quarter, but Jon Hays orchestrated two late drives that ended in touchdown passes to bring the Utes back into the game and force overtime. After the defense held Georgia Tech to a field goal on the first possession of overtime, running back John White IV capped off his record-setting season with an eight yard touchdown run to win 30-27.
HOW UTAH WON: Georgia Tech jumped out to a 24-10 lead after scoring touchdowns on a 31 yard pass from Tevin Washington to Stephen Hill and a Quayshawn Nealy pick-six all in a 26 second span late in the third quarter. Utah's defensive line stepped up in the fourth quarter, forcing Georgia Tech into quick punting situations and keeping them from using up the clock. Hays' first touchdown drive was methodical - 10 plays, 71 yards, just over four minutes of game clock.
A Griff McNabb punt return after Georgia Tech's next possession set up Hays at the Yellow Jackets' 24 yard line with 2:21 to go. After missing DeVonte Christopher in the end zone on third down, Hays went right back to the junior wide receiver on 4th and 14 for the game-tying touchdown. Tevin Washington was able to set up backup kicker David Scully with a 48-yard attempt to win the game at the end of regulation, but the kick sailed wide right. The Utes stout run defense continued in overtime, forcing Georgia Tech to settle for a field goal and allowing John White IV to win the game.
WHEN UTAH WON: The game wasn't sealed until White crossed the goal line on 3rd and Goal on the second possession of overtime.
WHAT UTAH WON: A strong finish to an up-and-down first season in the Pac-12. The Utes have had to overcome a 0-4 start in conference play, injury to Jordan Wynn, and a last-minute early season loss to USC on the way to their 8-5 finish. Battling back in the second half was nothing new for this squad, who has been doing it all season. John White IV picked up 115 yards on 26 carries in the win, enough to break the all-time school record for single season rushing. White finishes the 2011 season with 1,520 yards and 15 touchdowns.
WHAT GEORGIA TECH LOST: Their seventh straight bowl game. The Yellow Jackets spent a good amount of time this week talking about ending the six-game bowl slide, and they nearly had reversed their postseason fortunes before giving up the two scoring drives that forced overtime. Paul Johnson has taken the Yellow Jackets to four straight bowl games, but come away empty handed every time.
BOWL GRADE: A-minus. Did not have the highest expectations for this game when it was announced, but both teams brought great effort to one of the few historic bowl games left on the schedule. Despite a frustrating finish to the regular season and the numerous personnel setbacks, Georgia Tech was flying on the field and executing on their option plays. On the other side of the ball, Utah never quit after the two quick scores in the third quarter. Both teams' "want" was at a high level in this game, and it showed on the field. As Hays led the final drives in regulation, you could feel the momentum swinging in the game. All in all, very entertaining football game in El Paso.
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Tags: ACC, ACC, Bowl Preview, Bowl Schedule, Chip Patterson, DeVonte Christopher, Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech Suspension, Jay Finch, John White, John White IV, Jon Hays, Kendrick Moeai, Pac-12, Paul Johnson, Phil Smith Suspended, Phil Smith Suspension, Preston Lyons, Ray Beno, Shawn Asiata, Sun Bowl, Sun Bowl Injury Report, Sun Bowl Preview, Sun Bowl Projections, Tevin Washington, Tyler Kidney, Utah