ATLANTA -- Many Georgia Tech fans will remember Vad Lee’s fourth-quarter interception that enabled Georgia to tie the game and force overtime. That glaring mistake was one of the few that the sophomore from North Carolina suffered through Saturday.
“I thought he played well,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “I thought he had a really good game. He made some plays.”
Lee completed 11-of-23 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns. He threw two interceptions; the first was a meaningless toss at the end of the first half, but the second one gave Georgia a lifeline that proved to be a game-changer.
With less than six minutes to play, Georgia Tech faced second-and-9 at its own 25. Lee dropped back under pressure and tried to find Robert Godhigh down the right sideline. But Lee couldn’t get enough on the ball, and it was intercepted by Josh Harvey-Clemons, who returned it 18 yards to the Georgia Tech 35. That set up Georgia’s tying field goal.
“The one possession that hurt us was the interception,” Johnson said. “But you had to play almost perfect on offense, and that’s hard to do.”
Lee got off to a great start. He threw a perfect long ball to Darren Waller, who caught it in stride and raced to the Georgia 6. The 68-yard completion was Lee’s longest of the season. He finished off the drive by running it in from the 3.
On the next possession, Lee completed a pass to Godhigh for 43 yards to set up a field goal. The next time out, Lee capped a scoring drive with a 15-yard scoring pass to DeAndre Smelter. Lee found Smelter again for a 7-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“We had a good game plan coming in,” Lee said. “We knew we were going to hit some deep pass plays in the beginning, and we did. It was there, and all I had to do was throw the receives the ball, and they made it happen.”
Lee also kept the ball 14 times, most of them while running off tackle, and had 63 yards and two touchdowns. His 232 passing yards were a career best, surpassing the 189 he totaled against Elon in the season opener. It was his first game with two touchdown passes since Sept. 14 at Duke.
“They threw the ball very well,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. “When you’ve got to stop the run the way they run it, you really don’t have any free safety help. It’s hard to put pressure on the quarterback if you’re trying to stop the run. When you can throw and catch like they did, it’s a scary looking thing for our defense.”
Despite the impressive personal performance, Lee was distraught after the game.
“I’m all about winning,” Lee said. “I wanted to win this game, especially for the seniors. I can imagine how they feel right now, not being able to beat Georgia. That game matters a lot here. The game was special. It was a great atmosphere. We really wanted to win.”