Instead, Georgia Tech scored 17 unanswered points to start the fourth quarter en route to a 30-23 victory, severely damaging Miami's hopes for an ACC title.
The Hurricanes (5-3, 2-2 in the ACC) trailed 23-16 with less than seven minutes in the game after Georgia Tech took the lead for the first time on a 1-yard touchdown pass by Reggie Ball to Calvin Johnson. With the ball at the UM 45-yard line Kyle Wright dropped back to pass and was sacked and fumbled on the play.
"It was a play-action with a pump so it was a long-developing play and we needed some extra time for it," said Wright, who was sacked six times in the game. "We wanted to take a shot at their defense. I made the pump fake and then got hit."
Georgia Tech (6-2, 4-1) scored a touchdown two plays later to take a 30-16 lead.
The Hurricanes made things interesting when Greg Olsen broke free for a 41-yard touchdown reception with less than three minutes to go.
Instead of attempting an onside kick, Miami coach Larry Coker opted to kick the ball off and try to get the ball back if the Hurricanes held Georgia Tech to a three-and-out. Miami had just one timeout to stop the clock.
"We felt like we would have time and maybe a chance to block a punt," said Coker on the decision to kick off. "And from what I see in practice I don't think we onside kick the ball very well."
Miami held Georgia Tech and had one last chance to tie the game. Georgia Tech punted the ball away with 29 seconds remaining, but Rashaun Jones muffed the punt and Georgia Tech recovered, ending Miami's comeback hopes.
"Obviously we are very disappointed," Coker said. "I told our players that we played very hard and they gave great effort. We didn't play as well as we needed to at times to win the football game."
Wright and Jones did not have the only costly fumbles of the game. With the game tied at 13, Lance Leggett caught a 19-yard pass from Wright, taking the ball down to the 11-yard line before losing a fumble in the third quarter.
"That was certainly a huge play," Coker said. "If we go down and score a touchdown, I think we're going to win the game."
Wright completed 20 of 31 passes for 246 yards.
On the first play of the game, Miami linebacker Glenn Cook returned a fumble by Ball 19 yards for a touchdown. Calais Campbell forced the fumble. Cook scooped up the loose ball and ran it in for UM's first defensive TD of the season.
"I was real motivated and I told myself I was going to make a play," Campbell said. "I felt it gave our team the spark we needed. We started out strong, we just have to find a way to finish."
On its first offensive possession Miami extended it lead to 10-0 on a 38-yard field goal by Jon Peattie. The field goal was set up by a 49-yard run by Javarris James, who finished with 113 yards on 19 carries.
Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice ran for 63 of his 107 yards in the fourth quarter against Miami's defense, which came into the game ranked third in the nation, allowing just 63 rushing yards a game.
Georgia Tech has to win two of its next three games - it plays N.C. State, North Carolina and Duke - to clinch the ACC Coastal Division.
"We control our own destiny," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said, "which is all you can ask for going into the ninth game of the year."
Christopher Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Miami Out of ACC Race After 30-23 Loss
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