ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech needs to have a short memory.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off another heartbreaking defeat, becoming the first Atlantic Coast Conference team since 2006 to lose a pair of one-point games in a season. This time, it was a 25-24 setback at No. 8 Miami, which rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second half to kick the winning field goal with 4 seconds remaining.
Georgia Tech (3-2, 2-1 ACC) knows it can’t afford to be agonizing over the last game when it hosts Wake Forest on Saturday.
“You sit on it for a day, then you’ve got to flush it like any other win and any other loss,” defensive tackle Desmond Branch said. “You can’t let the last week’s opponent be the next week’s opponent. We’re not going to let Miami beat us twice.”
The Yellow Jackets already went through this once before. In the season opener, they thoroughly dominated Tennessee and had a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter. The Vols rallied to tie the game, blocked a field goal on the last play of regulation and won 42-41 in double overtime.
Georgia Tech bounced back to win its next three games by a combined score of 105-34.
Coach Paul Johnson stressed to his players that they can still reach all their goals, though they’ll need a little help after losing to divisional foe Miami.
“You hope that it hurts, but you’ve got to learn to put it behind you and move on,” Johnson said. “You can’t go back and change it. You’ve just got to talk about why it happened and why you were in that position and all the opportunities you had that we shouldn’t have been in that position.”
Wake Forest (4-2, 1-2) is coming off a bye week, which gave the Demon Deacons a chance to do some extra work preparing for Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense.
“The triple option brings a lot of new challenges,” linebacker Grant Dawson said. “We pretty much run a whole different defense than we do the rest of the year. This bye week we’ve had has helped us prepare for this challenge we’re facing, but we’re still going to have to come out on Saturday focused on every single play and play hard. That’s the biggest thing. We have to play hard and tackle well.”
Some things to watch for when Georgia Tech hosts Wake Forest on Saturday:
WOLFORD’S BACK: With an extra week to recover, John Wolford is set to return as quarterback for Wake Forest after missing the last game with a shoulder injury. The four-year starter ranks seventh in the league in total offense (255.8 yards per game), with eight touchdown pass and only one interception. Wake Forest is 4-1 when he starts.
BENSON’S STATUS: Georgia Tech B-back KirVonte Benson is expected to play after leaving the Miami game with a lower-body injury. The sophomore has rushed for more than 100 yards in three games and had 40 yards on seven carries against the Hurricanes before he was hurt. If Benson has a setback, the Yellow Jackets will turn to sophomore Quaide Weimerskirch or freshman Jerry Howard.
DORSCH’S BREAKOUT: Redshirt freshman receiver Greg Dorsch ranks second in the league with an average of 136 all-purpose yards. His five touchdown receptions rank second in the nation — and in the league — behind Louisville’s Dez Fitzpatrick.
TWO-MINUTE DEFENSE: Georgia Tech’s defense has shown improvement this season — except in one crucial area. The Yellow Jackets gave up long scoring drives to Miami in the closing minutes of both halves. Tennessee also had a lengthy touchdown drive in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter and even in a win over Pittsburgh, the Yellow Jackets surrendered a field goal on the final play of the first half. “We’ve got to try to create more negative plays and got to try to play tighter,” Johnson said.
TOUGH SCHEDULE: This is Wake Forest’ fourth game in a brutal five-game stretch against bowl teams from 2016. The Demon Deacons beat Appalachian State before losing to Florida State and then-No. 2 Clemson. Next week, they play host to Louisville and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.