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Tech moving past big win
Yellow Jackets focused on playing Virginia this week

ATLANTA - It was perhaps the biggest win in Georgia Tech's football program in many seasons.

It was the first victory over a top-five opponent at home since 1962, moved Tech up eight spot in the Associated Press national rankings to No. 11 and gave it the No. 12 position in the first BCS rankings of the season.

Yet, despite all the national implications, not all the focus of coach Paul Johnson and the Yellow Jackets during the post-game media gatherings following their 28-23 win over then-No. 4 Virginia Tech was on the victory over the Hokies.

There was also plenty on another team from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

"There are still games left to play. All you focus on is Virginia. You've got to go up there and win the game," Johnson said of the Virginia Cavaliers, Tech's next opponent on Saturday. "We've still got a lot of football left. We've got to make sure we dial in next week to get ready to play Virginia.

"Whatever was ailing them (during a rough early-season stretch), they ... figured it out. They may be playing as well as any team in the (Atlantic Coast Conference) right now."

That doesn't mean the Jackets (6-1, 4-1 in the ACC) didn't enjoy the moment Saturday night, joining most of the 54,405 at Bobby Dodd Stadium - including the multitude of students who stormed the field - in celebration after the final seconds ticked off the clock.

They certainly understood the ramifications of the win. It not only kept them well in the hunt for the ACC's Coastal Division title and a spot in the ACC title game, it also earned them national respect.

Still, they know their conference goals likely won't be possible without beating Virginia this week at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., where Tech hasn't won since its national championship season in 1990.

"I think Virginia," Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt answered when asked if he knew which team currently leads the Coastal Division, correctly pointing out that the Cavaliers (3-3 overall) are 2-0 in conference play. "It just makes next week's game even bigger."

That's been a recurring theme Johnson has hammered home to his team since a 33-17 loss at Miami on Sept. 17.

Just keep winning and make the next game an even bigger one.

That approach has worked, especially in Tech's biggest game to date on Saturday, and certainly its most complete game of the season.

The Jackets displayed their usual success in the spread-option running game, particularly in the second half, when they put up 272 yards of their 309 rushing yards.

And as has been the case lately, it was Nesbitt leading the way. While Jonathan Dwyer and the rest of Tech's running backs have been solid this season, the junior quarterback has been the catalyst lately.

Saturday was his second straight 100-yard rushing game with 122 yards, and Nesbitt has 1,519 yards of total offense on the season.

However, the biggest key Saturday may have been the Tech defense.

After struggling in giving up 1,026 yards and 75 points in back-to-back wins over Mississippi State and Florida State, the Jacket defense was solid, if not spectacular, against Virginia Tech.

Despite giving up two late touchdowns with the team holding a two-score lead in the fourth quarter, the Tech defense held the Hokies and athletic quarterback Tyrod Taylor in check for the most part. The Hokies had 334 yards of total offense against a unit led by linebackers Sedric Griffin and Brad Jefferson with eight tackles each.

It was a particularly satisfying performance for a defense that has been looked upon - rightly or wrongly - as the team's weak link.

"The last two weeks, we got embarrassed," said junior defensive end Derrick Morgan, who added five tackles, including a sack, Saturday. "We kind of felt obligated. We owed it to the offense because they were taking care of business the last two weeks. The main focus was, 'We can't leave them out there to dry.'"