WINSTON-SALEM — Wake Forest football coach Jim Grobe didn't need to see the video to know what happened over the closing minutes of the Deacons' 24-20 loss to Georgia Tech Saturday night at BB&T Field.
He could feel it. The Deacons had done so many good things, building the 17-6 lead they carried into the fourth quarter while relying on fourth-string quarterback Skylar Jones.
They had contained Georgia Tech's powerful run-first, option offense and put themselves in position to win when Jimmy Newman kicked a 26-yard field goal to give the Deacons a three-point lead with 2 minutes, 21 seconds remaining.
Then it was gone.
"[It] would have been disappointing if they had kicked a field goal to tie the game but for them to drive the length of the field for a touchdown to win is even more disappointing," Grobe said. "They did what they needed to do."
Using a 3-4 defensive scheme that limited Georgia Tech's explosive running game, Wake Forest (2-3, 1-2 ACC) couldn't sustain its performance in the fourth quarter when the Yellow Jackets gained 187 of their 339 total yards.
With a three-point lead, Wake Forest couldn't stop the Yellow Jackets from marching 69 yards in 12 plays for the winning score with 15 seconds remaining.
Wake Forest let Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt scramble for 16 yards on a fourth-and-four to keep the drive alive. Then, on third down with 20 seconds remaining and Georgia Tech (3-2, 2-1) out of time outs, Nesbitt was nearly run out of bounds before he found Correy Earls for a 9-yard touchdown that capped the Yellow Jackets' comeback.
Georgia Tech had tied the score with 6:50 remaining when Nesbitt threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Embry Peeples before the quarterback bulled his way in for a tying two-point conversion.
Wake Forest had built its 17-6 lead behind Jones, a wide receiver last year who was converted to quarterback this season. He was fourth on the depth chart but got some work in practice last week when it became likely that starter Tanner Price would not play due to a concussion.
The Deacons started Ted Stachitas at quarterback but he left the game in the second series after suffering a back injury. Redshirt freshman Brendon Cross took over but he left late in the first quarter with a shoulder injury.
Suddenly, it was Jones' turn. He completed 9 of 20 passes for 105 yards and rushed for 31 yards, managing the game and his nerves effectively. Jones suffered a foot injury in the second half and trainers had to work on him to keep him in the game.
It was enough to leave Grobe wondering what's next for the Deacons, who host Navy next Saturday.
"I'm disappointed we had three quarterbacks get hurt," Grobe said. "I don't know what it's going to take to find someone that's durable enough to make it through a football game."
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