ATLANTA — Marcus Marshall ran 67 yards for a touchdown, Justin Thomas threw a 54-yard scoring pass to Clinton Lynch and Qua Searcy broke loose for a 60-yard TD, leading Georgia Tech to a 31-17 victory over Virginia on Saturday.
Georgia Tech (7-4, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) struggled through most of the first half and went to the locker room trailing 10-7. Marshall’s career-long run in front of the Cavaliers bench accounted for more than half of the Yellow Jackets’ 111 yards at the break.
But Virginia (2-9, 1-6), with Matt Johns starting at quarterback for the first time this season, couldn’t hold on. Lynch got behind the secondary to haul in a pass that put Georgia Tech ahead to stay with just under 4 1-2 minutes to go in the third quarter.
Before the period was over, Searcy took a pitch to the right, cut back across the field, picked up a block near the end zone from Thomas and trotted into the end zone for a 21-10 lead.
Virginia closed the gap to 24-17 on Johns’ 1-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Santoro with 7:18 remaining. But a punt backed up the Cavaliers to their own 2, and Lance Austin returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown that sealed Virginia’s sixth straight loss.
Marshall finished with 127 yards on 16 carries. Thomas, who didn’t play the previous week in an upset of Virginia Tech because of an injury, completed 5 of 10 passes for 122 yards.
Johns, reclaiming the starting job he had last season, was 27 of 44 for 220 yards. But he had three interceptions in the second half, the last of them on a meaningless heave at the end of the game.
Virginia: A year to forget — boy, that must sound familiar to Wahoo fans — is mercifully winding down. The Cavaliers were doomed by another second-half meltdown, which has become a familiar theme. They have been outscored 183-114 over the final two quarters this season.
Georgia Tech: Before a listless, half-filled stadium, the Yellow Jackets came out flat after their big win at Virginia Tech. But the triple-option offense produced enough big plays to beat the Cavaliers, avoiding the sort of upset that would’ve really turned up the heat on coach Paul Johnson.
Virginia: Finishes its first year under coach Bronco Mendenhall next Saturday at Virginia Tech, which has won 12 straight games in the series. The Cavaliers need an upset to avoid tying the school record for most losses in a season. They’ve had 10 losses five other times, most recently in 2013.
Georgia Tech: Closes the regular season on the road against state rival Georgia. The Bulldogs have won 13 of the last 15 meetings between the teams, including a 13-7 victory in 2015 that turned out to be the final game at Georgia for coach Mark Richt.