ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Less than 24 hours after seeing its SEC championship hopes disappear, Georgia suffered a more painful loss.
For Georgia senior quarterback Hutson Mason, losing state bragging rights in his final home game overshadowed all other regrets.
Mason threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell with 18 seconds remaining in regulation before No. 16 Georgia Tech pulled even with Harrison Butker’s 53-yard field goal and beat the No. 8 Bulldogs 30-24 in overtime Saturday.
On Friday, Georgia lost its last hope to play in the Southeastern Conference championship game when Missouri on the Eastern Division by beating Arkansas.
“Obviously, we would have loved to been playing for the SEC championship, but that’s not the feeling we’re feeling now,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “The seniors fought their hearts out in their last game here. That’s the thing that hurts the most.”
D.J. White picked off Mason’s pass in overtime to preserve the Yellow Jackets’ first win in the rivalry since 2008.
Mason thought his farewell to Sanford Stadium would be the touchdown pass with only seconds remaining in regulation.
“I thought there for a second it might be the sweetest way to write your story, but it didn’t happen,” Mason said.
Instead, the interception ruined his day.
“It stinks. You throw a pick against Tech and you have to remember that for the rest of your life,” Mason said.
Georgia Tech (10-2, No. 16 CFP) advances to next week’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against No. 1 Florida State.
Georgia (9-3, No. 9 CFP) awaits a bowl bid.
Richt said he regretted ordering a squib kick after Mason’s late touchdown pass to Mitchell. He said he should have had Marshall Morgan kick deep instead. Georgia Tech took over on its 43 and needed only one 21-yard run by quarterback Justin Thomas to set up Butker’s field goal, which barely cleared the crossbar to force overtime.
“I’m probably as sick as I’ve ever been after a loss,” Richt said, adding his decision “basically gave them enough field position to get to kick. Not a good decision there.”
Georgia Tech’s Zach Laskey ran for 140 yards, and his 2-yard touchdown run in overtime was his third of the game. Butker’s extra point was blocked, giving Georgia a chance to win.
Mason again tried to hit Mitchell on a quick slant the quarterback described as a “trusting route.”
“I bet when I watch it again I should have just thrown it at his feet and lived to play another down,” Mason said.
Nick Chubb, who had 129 yards rushing with a touchdown, and Sony Michel each fumbled at the Georgia Tech 1. Chubb fumbled late in the first quarter when trying to leap over the line for a touchdown. Michel’s second-quarter fumble was recovered in the end zone for a touchback to set up an 80-yard drive capped by Thomas’ 7-yard touchdown pass to Darren Waller.
Thomas also fumbled at the 1 for Georgia Tech. Damian Swann snatched the ball from the quarterback and ran 99 yards for a touchdown, the longest fumble return in Georgia history.
There also were unexpected twists on special teams. Each team blocked a field goal, and Georgia pulled off a fake field goal that Morgan almost took to the end zone.
Finally, Georgia Tech looked to be in position to clinch the victory after Georgia failed to field a pooch kickoff, allowing the Yellow Jackets to recover deep in Bulldogs territory with just over 4 minutes remaining.
Thomas made another huge mistake, losing control of the ball as he attempted to pump fake on a scramble. Amarlo Herrera recovered for Georgia, which drove for the go-ahead touchdown.
“They have a good football team and a good football program,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “They have for a long time and they will for a long time. That makes it even that much more impressive for us to be able to come in here and get a win.”