PITTSBURGH — Jeff Sims threw for a touchdown and ran for another as Georgia Tech upset No. 24 Pittsburgh, 26-21, Saturday night less than a week after its coach and athletic director was fired.
Georgia Tech let athletic director Todd Stansbury and coach Geoff Collins go Monday, two days after a 27-10 loss to UCF that dropped the Yellow Jackets to 3-1 in the season.
Collins was in his fourth season as coach, and last week’s loss to the Knights marked the Yellow Jackets’ ninth straight loss to FBS opponents from last season.
But interim coach Brent Key mobilized the squad as the Yellow Jackets (2-3, 1-1 ACC) delivered the performance of the season. Despite amassing just 17 first downs and 338 total yards, they had the ball 31-04 in the rain in Pittsburgh and clinched a win as a 21.5-point underdog.
“I knew these guys had it in them all along, and we just had to get them on the same page,” Key said in his on-field interview after the game on the ACC Network.
Pitt (3-2, 0-1) struggled to gain a foothold on the wet turf and ended up down for just 106 yards. It was their second home loss of the year after dropping a 34-27 overtime decision against Tennessee last month.
Georgia Tech mustered 236 yards on the ground and capped the win with Sims’ 18-yard touchdown rush at 1:25 in the fourth quarter. Hassan Hall piled 157 yards on the ground for the Yellow Jackets.
“The coaches brought them together and focused them on the mission, one day at a time, one game at a time, to achieve that win,” Key said.
In a stunning turn of events – although it’s still fairly early in the season – the Yellow Jackets find themselves just one game behind Duke and North Carolina for first place in the ACC Coastal Division. They will host the Blue Devils in Atlanta on Saturday.
“I’m just so happy for the kids, the coaches, the alumni base,” Key said. “We have a lot to do now. … We have Duke in seven days.”
Key is the first Yellow Jackets graduate to lead the program since Bill Curry’s tenure in the 1980s.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.