ATLANTA - In its biggest game in recent memory, Georgia Tech came up with perhaps its biggest performance of of the season Saturday night.
After being stuffed for just 37 yards on the ground in the first half by Virginia Tech, the Yellow Jackets erupted for 272 rushing yards in the second half - including two of Josh Nesbitt's three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the beleaguered Tech defense rose to the occasion, holding the fourth-ranked Hokies to just 334 yards as the No. 19 Jackets pulled a 28-23 upset before a raucous crowd of 54,405 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
"This is the biggest thing that's happened since I've been (at Tech)," said Nesbitt, who led all rushers with 122 yards on 23 carries.
Indeed, it was Tech's first win in 19 tries against a top-five-ranked team at home dating back to a 7-6 win over top-ranked Alabama in 1962.
And it wouldn't have been possible without a solid night by a defense that had been torched for 75 points in its last two games, and an offense that made adjustments after being held in check much of the first half.
Up 7-3 at the half, Tech took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 60 yards in seven plays and just 3:00, capped by Nesbitt's second 1-yard TD of the game to take a 14-3 lead.
The Jackets then looked like they had claimed momentum after recovering from a 58-yard kickoff return by Dyrell Roberts to stop Virginia Tech on downs on the Tech 17.
But a Dorian Porch interception gave Virginia Tech the ball on its own 44, and Ryan Williams burst up the middle for the required 66 yards on the next snap, pulling the Hokies to within 14-10 with 7:58 left in the third quarter.
But once again, Tech had an answer.
This time, the Jackets marched 86 yards in 12 plays, draining 6:19 off the clock, before Marcus Wright took a late pitch and sprinted in from 13 yards out, extending the lead to 21-10 with 1:37 left in the quarter.
After a three-and-out by the defense, the Jackets looked like they might deliver the knockout blow on their next possession in the fourth quarter, driving down to the Hokies' 14-yard line.
But a bad pitch on an option play wound up in the hands of Davon Morgan, and Virginia Tech still trailed by only two scores.
And it took only six plays and 2:27 for the Hokies to get one of those scores as Taylor scrambled in from 22 yards out to cap a 77-yard drive.
But Taylor's pass attempt on the two-point conversion was batted away, and Tech still led 21-16 with 4:52 remaining.
However, as they did most of the evening, the Jackets had an answer.
This time, it was a seven-play, 75-yard drive that Nesbitt finished off with a 39-yard touchdown on a critical third-down play to give Tech breathing room again at 28-16 with just 3 minutes left.
"I was kind of hoping they'd ruled him out of bounds when they reviewed the play because we could've run out the clock," Tech coach Paul Johnson said only half-jokingly. "But you can't tell a kid not to score."