Geoff Collins knew Georgia Tech’s rainy day would come.
The coach had the Yellow Jackets prepared.
Jeff Sims threw a go-ahead 19-yard scoring pass to Jahmyr Gibbs midway through the fourth quarter and Georgia Tech rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to beat Louisville 46-27 on Friday night.
On a rainy night, Louisville running backs lost three fumbles while Georgia Tech did not commit a turnover. Collins looked back to preseason practices when he had his offense work in the rain.
“Even though we have a great indoor facility, we intentionally in the season when we experienced rain we would make the offense go out and practice in the rain,” Collins said.
Gibbs said the wet practices are common.
“We practice in the rain all the time,” Gibbs said. “When it rains we just keep practicing outside to get used to it.”
Georgia Tech (2-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) snapped a two-game losing streak. Sims, a freshman, passed for 249 yards with two touchdowns, including a 34-yard scoring pass to Malachi Carter to extend the lead with less than three minutes remaining. Dontae Smith added a 12-yard scoring run in the final minute.
Louisville (1-3, 0-3) suffered its third straight loss despite a strong effort by quarterback Malik Cunningham, who passed for 229 yards with two touchdowns and ran for two scores.
Javian Hawkins ran for 155 yards for the Cardinals but his fumble in the fourth quarter was costly. Jordan Domineck’s recovery near midfield set up Sims’ scoring pass to Gibbs, who vaulted defensive back Isaiah Hayes at the goal line to give the Yellow Jackets a 32-27 lead.
“I saw one man in front of me and so I had to do what I had to do and I just jumped over him,” said Gibbs, who had 13 carries for 61 yards.
Gibbs’ vault was scary to Sims.
“I was like ‘Oh my goodness!’” Sims said, adding “At first I thought he was going to get hurt when he was in the air.”
The Cardinals had a 471-450 edge in total yards, but the lost fumbles were the difference.
“They did a good job of moving the football,” said Louisville coach Scott Satterfield. “But I think it really came down to turnovers. We get a good kickoff return, we fumble. We’re driving the ball, we fumble past midfield. Those are taking away opportunities.”
Cunningham completed scoring passes to Marshon Ford and Tutu Atwell. His second touchdown run, an 11-yarder late in the third quarter, gave the Cardinals a 27-26 lead.
Georgia Tech trailed 21-7 before suddenly finding its offense in the final minute of the first half.
Sims completed a pass to Gibbs for 41 yards, starting a string of three consecutive completions that moved the Yellow Jackets to the Louisville 9. Sims then handed to Ahmarean Brown on an apparent reverse before Brown, running right, stopped and passed to Jalen Camp for a touchdown.
Louisville running back Hassan Hall lost two fumbles, including one on a kickoff return that was forced and recovered by Bruce Jordan-Swilling. The play set up Sims’ 22-yard scoring run for a 26-21 lead in the third quarter. Sims ran for 64 yards.
Louisville: Hawkins’ runs and Cunningham’s dynamic leadership provided a strong base for the Cardinals. It was not enough to overcome the three lost fumbles by the running backs as turnovers were decisive for the second straight week.
Georgia Tech: Mistakes, including false starts and the blocked extra point on a low kick by Gavin Stewart, continue to hurt the Yellow Jackets. Even so, Sims continues to show promise as the new leader of an improving team.
RETURN TO FORM
Cunningham did not throw an interception. It was a dramatic return to form for the junior quarterback, who threw a career-high three interceptions and was sacked seven times in a 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh on Sept. 26. Before the loss to Pitt, Cunningham had never thrown more than one interception in a game.
Louisville cornerback Marlon Character was called for targeting and ejected following a hit on Adonicas Sanders in the third quarter. Character lowered his helmet before the big hit on the sideline following Sanders’ 33-yard gain.
Louisville will play its third consecutive road game when it visits No. 5 Notre Dame on Oct. 17.
Georgia Tech faces a big challenge when No. 1 Clemson visits Bobby Dodd Stadium on Oct. 17.