ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia Tech had not beaten Georgia since 2000, and it wasn’t looking good when the Yellow Jackets trailed by 16 points at halftime.
Then Roddy Jones and the triple-option offense went to work.
Jones rushed a career-best 214 yards, including a decisive 54-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, and No. 18 Georgia Tech rallied to snap a seven-game losing streak against its state rival with a 45-42 victory over 13th-ranked Georgia on Saturday.
The cold, rainy day wasn’t a total victory for the visiting team: Virginia Tech denied the Yellow Jackets a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game with a 17-14 victory over Virginia.
But Georgia Tech (9-3) celebrated anyway, gathering in front of its small contingent at Sanford Stadium to sing the school fight song while the red-clad Georgia fans headed to the exits, a season that started at No. 1 winding down far short of expectations.
After building a 28-12 halftime lead, the Bulldogs (9-3) simply had no answer for Georgia Tech’s unique offense, which piled up 409 yards on the ground. Jones, a redshirt freshman, averaged 16.5 yards per carry and scored twice, including the long run that gave Georgia Tech a 45-35 lead with 7:13 remaining.
Jonathan Dwyer added 144 yards rushing and scored two TDs of his own.
Georgia lost despite Matthew Stafford tying a school record with five touchdown passes — three of them to Mohamed Massaquoi — in what might have been his final game between the hedges. The junior quarterback said he’ll consider entering the NFL draft.
Stafford looked like he would go out a winner, despite an errant throw that Morgan Burnett picked off and returned 35 yards for Georgia Tech’s first TD.
Stafford capped Georgia’s opening drive with a 1-yard scoring pass to Tripp Chandler, then hooked up with Massaquoi on touchdown passes of 10, 49 and 3 yards. Georgia Tech botched the extra point after Burnett’s TD, then was unsuccessful on a two-point try after Lucas Cox scored on a 2-yard run.
But the Yellow Jackets turned the game around with a stunning display at the start of the third quarter. On their first play from scrimmage, Dwyer broke off a 60-yard touchdown run, then got in on the two-point conversion that made it 28-20.
Georgia went three-and-out, and Georgia Tech quickly marched for another score on Jones’ 8-yard run. Nesbitt’s conversion run put up another two points, tying the game at 28.
Richard Samuel fumbled the ensuing kickoff, the Yellow jackets recovered and scored on the very next play: Dwyer’s 23-yard run. Two TDs just 16 seconds apart gave Georgia Tech its first lead of the game, 35-28, and the Bulldogs never recovered.
Stafford finished 24-of-39 for 407 yards, becoming the third quarterback in school history to throw five TDs in game. David Greene and D.J. Shockley also did it. Massaquoi had 11 receptions for 180 yards.
Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno, who like Stafford may leave school early for the NFL, rushed for 94 yards and scored on a 32-yard run. Stafford added a 12-yard scoring pass to A.J. Green with 4:04 remaining, but the Bulldogs couldn’t stop the triple-option.
Georgia Tech ran out the clock without giving Georgia another shot.