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Tech notes: Jackets' defense coming around

ATLANTA — Georgia Tech has lost just one of his past 15 homecoming games, with Virginia defeating the Yellow Jackets 24-17 in 2008.

Al Groh was the Cavaliers’ coach then. On Saturday, he was on the opposite sideline as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator.

The Yellow Jackets’ still haven’t completed adjusted to Groh’s 3-4 defense. But the improvement the last two games is noticeable.

Georgia Tech shut down Wake Forest while rallying from down 17-6 for a 24-20 victory last week and Virginia’s final touchdown in Saturday’s 33-21 victory came in the final minute.

More indicative of the Yellow Jackets’ improve on defense came early in the fourth quarter, when they held Virginia on downs at 2-yard line while leading 27-14.

Groh, who also coached Wake Forest and the New York Jets, was fired by Virginia after going 3-9 last season to drop his record with the Cavaliers to 59-53 over nine seasons and Mike London, a former assistant, was hired from Richmond to replace him.

“There really weren’t any distractions for me,” said Groh, who had downplayed the match-up with his old team all week.

Many of his former players came over to talk to him after the came, which pleased the veteran coach as much or more than the victory.

“That is what you are left with at the end of your career, the relationships,” said Groh, 66. “Those rings and watches you can put away, but those relationships never tarnish.”

Blair on target

Scott Blair wasn’t always the most accurate kicker during the past three years. But that has all changed this season as a senior.

Blair is a perfect 9-for-9 on his field goal attempts and five of them have come from 40 yards or more, including one from 47 yards.

The senior from Calhoun hit from 40 and 28 yards in the first quarter on Saturday, giving the Yellow Jackets their first points against Virginia, after booting three field goals last week against Wake Forest. He is just the eighth player in Georgia Tech history to reach 200 career points.

Blair was 12 of 19 in his first season as a regular in 2008 and 14 of 20 last season. He also missed three extra points the past two years, but he is perfect there as well this season and now has a streak of 60 in a row.

Cross has quiet game

Defensive end Izaan Cross, who came in leading Georgia Tech with 25 tackles, made just one against Virginia.

The sophomore, who started his high school career at Buford before transferring to Flowery Branch, had 4.5 tackles for losses in the first five games and a team-best 2.5 sacks.

Outside linebacker Anthony Egbuniwe led the Yellow Jackets with seven tackles, five of them solo, and had one of the team’s four sacks. Cornerback Mario Butler was in on five tackles and had a fumble recovery.