Georgia Tech Victorious Over USC In Sun Bowl Redo
Yellow Jackets force 3 Trojan turnovers to win 21-7
Published: Monday, December 31, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05
After their defeat against Utah on the 2011 Hyundai Sun Bowl game, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were able to come out with a win on their second consecutive visit to the Sun City and defeated the preseason No.1 ranked team in the nation, the Southern California Trojans 21-7, Dec. 31 in El Paso.
The Yellow Jackets’ defense played a key role in the victory, holding the Trojans to only 205 total yards of offense and a touchdown, while their offense ran the ball for 294 yards.
“I’m really proud of our football team and how hard they played,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “They sure played with a lot of heart a lot of determination, hard fought battle and proud of our guys.”
USC had the first opportunity in the red zone, but sophomore kicker Andre Heidari missed a 37-yard field goal as the ball went wide-left of the upright.
Georgia Tech’s senior quarterback Tevin Washington was replaced by freshman Vad Lee in the second quarter, as the Yellow Jackets used a two-quarterback rotation against the Trojans.
Early in the second quarter, Lee was able to connect with junior B-back David Sims for a 3-yard touchdown pass to put the Yellow Jackets on top 7-0.
USC senior quarterback Matt Barkley missed the game after suffering a shoulder injury in the game against UCLA, Nov. 17. Freshman Max Wittek made his second career start in place of Barkley and finished 14-of-37 for 107 yards and three interceptions, two of which came in the red zone.
"If you turn the ball over three times and go 3-of-15, I believe on third down, it's going to be tough," USC head coach Lane Kiffin said. "We put Max (Wittek) in a very tough position today by not being really efficient running the ball."
With less than a minute remaining in the first half, Wittek threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to junior running back Silas Redd to tie the game at 7.
The USC offense, struggled to move the ball in the second half and were unable to get a single first down until midway through the fourth quarter.
After a three-and-out by the Trojans in their first possession of the third quarter, Georgia Tech’s sophomore defensive back Jamal Golden returned a punt 56 yards to the Trojans’ 1-yard line, in what became the turning point of the game.
Two plays later, Washington ran the ball in from 1-yard out to extend the Gerogia Tech lead 14-7.
“The punt return was huge for us,” Johnson said. “It really got the momentum going for us to start the second half.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Georgia Tech was facing a 3rd-and-goal from the 17-yard line, however Washington found senior tailback Orwin Smith uncovered for the short completion, who then ran down the sideline for a 17-yard touchdown and the 21-7 lead for the eventual win.
“He did a delay and came free when the defense flowed with me,” Washington said. “The corner fell off, but Orwin (Smith) made a great play and made him miss.”
The Trojans drove the ball into the red zone twice more, but Wittek was intercepted both times in the endzone.
"I tried to stay positive throughout the entire game," Wittek said. "Body language is very essential and if I start putting my head down, what are my teammates going to think of me."
Georgia Tech became the first team to win the Sun Bowl with less than 100 passing yards since TCU defeated USC in 1998.
USC is the first preseason Associated Press No.1 ranked team to lose six games that season.
Edwin Delgado may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.