Georgia Tech running back Robert Godhigh (25) is brought down by Miami defensive back Kacy Rodgers II (22) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Atlanta on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
ATLANTA -- This was supposed to be the year that Georgia Tech got payback against Miami, which had beaten the Yellow Jackets the past three seasons by a combined score of 92-34.
Instead, Tech is still searching for a way to beat the Hurricanes.
This was hardly a blowout, although it started off looking that way. Quite the contrary. But there are defeats that sting worse than a lopsided score.
This 42-36 overtime loss before 50,390 at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday was certainly one of them. It hurt Tech and its fans to the bone.
Down 19-0 after the first quarter, the Yellow Jackets scored 36 unanswered points on five touchdowns in six possessions. Still, it wasn't enough.
"When we came out in the second half and scored a couple of touchdowns, it seemed like we really had then on the ropes," Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "We did a great job in coming back, but to their credit so did they."
Tech couldn't hold a late lead at Virginia Tech and lost in overtime. This was more of the same.
Miami drove 91 yards and forced overtime on 10-yard pass from Stephen Morris to Mike James with 27 seconds left.
Then the Hurricanes won it when James ran 25 yards on Miami's first play of overtime after Georgia Tech's Tevin Washington was stopped inches short inside the 2-yard line on a fourth-down play.
"The play that was called was a quarterback follow and I checked to the toss because they were all in the gaps," Washington said. "When I checked it they moved back, but I didn't recheck it. I'm coached not to recheck it right there, so I just tried to get it on my own."
Miami, which came in as a two-touchdown underdog, has the lead in the Coastal Division at 2-0, while Tech has two losses in three conference games and is already likely out of contention for a trip to the ACC Championship Game.
James' deciding TD-- his third of the game -- touched off a wild celebration by the Hurricanes and well it should have. Miami (3-1) looked as dead going into the fourth quarter as Tech (2-2) had after the first.
But James scored on a 15-yard run early in the final quarter to cut a deficit that had been 36-19 to a TD and, after Jake Wieclaw missed a 22-yard field goal with 7:03 left, the Hurricanes mounted a crunch-time drive to remember.
After Tech made two first downs, Miami got the ball at the 9-yard line with two minutes left. Morris completed four straight passes to start the drive and his sixth completion of the march was the tying TD to James after a pass interference call against Tech's Rod Sweeting.
"We had some missed tackles, especially in the last drive," Johnson said.
Rod Godhigh had a 14-yard run to start overtime for Tech, but the Yellow Jackets came up empty when Washington was stopped short on third and fourth down.
The game, which lasted nearly four hours, was really three in one. Miami won the first and last.
"I'm just surprised by the whole game," Johnson said.
Tech's first-quarter performance couldn't have been uglier, but it looked like the Yellow Jackets had overcome it.
Morris hit a wide-open Phillip Dorsett for a 65-yard TD on Miami's third play, and Wieclaw kicked a 38-yard field goal on the next time the Hurricanes got the ball.
Then came utter embarrassment. Orwin Smith was called for a safety when he knelt for a touchback with one hand already out of the end zone.
Smith said he saw the signal from fellow returner Jamal Golden to stay in the end zone too late.
"We had some miscommunications," Smith said. "My plan was to come out. I saw (Golden) put his hand up to tell me to stop and my momentum kind of made me lean out of the end zone."
After the resulting free kick, James scored from a yard out on the last play of the quarter and Miami led 19-0.
It was the biggest first-quarter deficit for the Yellow Jackets since falling behind Purdue 21-0 en route to a 41-21 loss in the 1978 Peach Bowl.
Outgained 191-39 in the first quarter, the Yellow Jackets completely turned the tables on Miami while scoring three times for a 22-19 halftime lead. Tech had a 176-46 edge in the second quarter and forced two Hurricanes turnovers.
Smith scored on an 8-yard run as Tech went 91 yards on its first possession of the second quarter and momentum quickly switched.
Dorsett fumbled after a 36-yard reception and Washington capped a 57-yard drive with a 2-yard run. Then the Yellow Jackets drove 62 yards the next time they had the ball to take their first lead against Miami since the first quarter of the 2009 game.
Washington scored from 10 yards out and then connected with Godhigh for the two-point conversion.
It looked like the Yellow Jackets were going to roll to an easy comeback when they scored on their first two possessions of the second half.
Tony Zenon scored on a 35-yard run as the Yellow Jackets went 65 yards the first time they had the ball and then they went 60 in two plays as Washington followed a 58-yard pass to Jeff Green with a short TD run.
"I told them to put blinders on," Miami coach Al Golden said of the 17-point deficit. That apparently worked.Wieclaw kicked a 23-yard field goal late in the third quarter and Miami dominated from there.
Morris completed 31 of 52 passes for 436 yards and the Hurricanes also had 173 yards rushing. Tech had 287 yards on the round and Washington was 3-for-8 passing for 132 yards.
"They just manhandled us and out-executed us," Tech linebacker Brandon Watts said. "I felt like we weren't prepared. I can't really say too much. ... We got started bad and down a lot. But we kept fighting through."
In addition to the game, the Yellow Jackets lost tackle Will Jackson (ankle), cornerback Louis Young (shoulder) and punter Sean Poole (arm) to injuries.
"You look back and it just seems like it wasn't meant to be for us," Johnson said.