Well, it wasn't exactly the old shut-the-door-in-your-face kind of "finishing" Tech coaches were yelling about in practice all week, but the Jackets did close out the game successfully against a Wake Forest team that had pulled off a ferocious comeback win against North Carolina the week before.
The Jackets held the Deacons to 140 yards rushing, their lowest output of the season. "That," said Coach George O'Leary, "was the difference." George Godsey was again in All-ACC form completing 20 of 27 passes for 267 yards. The Jackets played better in the red zone and seemed to rediscover their tight ends in the process. Will Heller caught a touchdown pass in the first half. Joe Burns passed the 1000-yard mark for the season and rushed for over 100 yards again. Will Glover caught eight balls (two for TDs) and totalled 155 yards.
The Jackets had a more determined pass rush in the fourth quarter that at least slowed Wake Forest's comeback bid. And Anthony Lawson came up big playing for the injured Key Fox in the second half, and had a huge interception. Kelly Rhino set an ACC punt return record.
The special teams played their worst gsme of the season, making the lapses in the Virginia game seem less fluky and more of a trend. Tech gave up a long kickoff return for a touchdown for the second week in a row, prompting O'Leary to say, "We've got to get some new blood in there." Kelly Rhino lost a fumble on a punt return and a botched snap over punter Chris Morehouse's head and out of the endzone went for a safety.
The pass defense again struggled against QB James MacPherson in the second half and on several third down pass plays, putting the Jackets in position for another heartbreaking last minute defeat. And the offensive line gave up four sacks and were stuffed on several short yardage plays.
The on-side kick at the end of the game was in the Deacons' hands for a split second before Jeremy Muyres came up with the football, scaring up memories of late game collapses one last time. It was truly ugly to think that this game might end as other games have in 2001.