November 29, 2009

Defense makes winning stand

ATLANTA - If this was indeed Willie Martinez's final game as Georgia's defensive coordinator he made his last regular-season game count.

One year after getting blasted for their second-effort in Georgia Tech's win last year in Athens, the Bulldogs' defense came into Saturday night's contest anxious to make amends.

There were certainly few complaints.

"This was a redemption game for us," safety Reshad Jones said. "Everybody talked about how bad we were, this and that. It just feels good for one night to be able to show people we have a good defense."

Jones wouldn't get much argument after Georgia's 30-24 win.

Georgia Tech (10-2) came in averaging 343.9 yards rushing in their previous seven games, but fell almost 150 shy of that mark against the Bulldogs who limited the Yellow Jackets to 204 yards on the ground.

"We just wanted to win," said Martinez. "Bottom line, it's just like last year. We wanted to tackle well; when you do that, you can play good defense. It's certainly less stressful when you do."

Still, Georgia's defense had to make one final stand late in the game after Blair Walsh missed a 55-yard field goal with 3:03 left that would have put the game away.

However, the Bulldogs defense held its ground and after the Yellow Jackets got to the Georgia 46 with two minutes to play, quarterback Josh Nesbitt threw four straight long incomplete passes ending whatever chance Tech may have had.

Jones nearly had interception on Nesbitt's second pass before his final two throws fell incomplete sending the Bulldog faithful at Bobby Dodd Stadium into a state of delirium.

Nesbitt's fourth-down attempt to would would have been enough for a first down but wideout Demaryius Thomas dropped the ball.

"The first one was a wheel route that we thought because we had thrown the out to the inside receiver that we had a chance to make a play," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "The one to Anthony Allen was a stretch route that he broke across the middle on and he clearly had the guy beat but didn't make a play. On the last one, we just didn't make a play. (Thomas) made plays all year and without him we wouldn't even have been in the game. We just didn't make enough plays."

Georgia, meanwhile, won the turnover battle for just the second time this year, getting an interception from Jones and a fumble recovery from defensive tackle Geno Atkins to stop two drives.

"They were playing a certain coverage and I just read the quarterback's eyes," Jones said. "I just dropped back and made a play."

For Jones, it couldn't have been much sweeter.

Last year, Jones took the brunt of frustration from fans after failing to tackle Roddy Jones during his long touchdown run that turned out to be the game-winning score.

Saturday, Jones finished second on the team in tackles with seven and had one-half tackle for a loss to go along with his one pick.

"This was personal for me," Jones said. "I've lived with that game all year. I wanted to do everything in my power to try and make up for that tonight."

Linebacker Rennie Curran led the Bulldogs with 15 tackles with Akeem Dent chipping in with 11.

"We wanted to come out and set the record straight, show that we are a good team and can stop the option no matter what anybody said," Curran said. "Nobody thought we could do what did tonight, but it was just a matter of every person doing his job, following his assignment and focusing on every single drive."

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