Georgia Tech Beats No. 1 UVA

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Georgia Tech 1990 Football Team Roster and Schedule[1]

On November 3rd, 1990, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets visited number one ranked Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia. The game was played before a record crowd of 49,700 fans and was also on national television (CBS-TV). This game was vital for Georgia Tech and for the University of Virginia in their pursuit for the National Championship; the winner of the matchup would become an important contender for the title.



The University of Virginia would face Georgia Tech in the eighth week of the regular season. As mentioned before, this match-up was very important for the National Championship, because both teams were undefeated and likely candidates to take the trophy. The Virginia Cavaliers came into the game ranked as the number one team in the nation and with a record of seven wins and zero losses. George Welsch was the Head Coach for the Cavaliers and on the field, they were led by star quarterback Shawn Moore, who would later be drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 1991 NFL draft. Another important player for the Cavaliers was their wide receiver Herman Moore, who would be drafted by the Detroit Tigersthe following NFL draft. [2] The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets came into the game as the number 16 team in the nation and with a record of six wins, zero losses and one tie (the tie occurring the prior weekend against the University of North Carolina). Robert “Bobby” Ross was the Head Coach for the Yellow Jackets, and on the field they were lead by quarterback Shawn Jones, star kicker Scott Sisson, and future Tampa Bay Buccaneer linebacker Calvin Tiggle.[3]

The Game

First Quarter

The Virginia Cavaliers started the game with a quick touchdown run by quarterback Shawn Moore. The extra point was converted and the Cavaliers were up by seven. Later on the first quarter kicker McInerney converted a 27 yard field goal to go ahead 10-0[4], shortly after the first quarter concluded.

Second Quarter

The Yellow Jackets would not react early in the second quarter as kicker McInerney kicked another field goal for Virginia, this time from 51 yards, giving them three more points and making the score 13-0. Georgia Tech finally scored with a 23 yard run from quarterback, Shawn Jones, and shortened the distance to only 6 points; the score was 13-7. Shortly after, Shawn Moore, Virginia quarterback, scored again on a 1 yard run in order to go ahead in the score 21-7. Tech reacted and answered back with a 43 yard pass from Jones to Gilchrist in order to make the score 21-14. The second half did not conclude until after the Cavaliers got on the scoreboard again. Shawn Moore scored his third touchdown of the night with a six yard run and made the score at halftime 28-14 for the Cavaliers. [5]

Third Quarter

Early in the third quarter linebacker Calvin Tiggle recovered a fumble from Shawn Moore and gave Tech good field position for a touchdown. This recovery was extremely important since it set up the Yellow Jackets for an early come back in the second half. Later in the drive, Jerry Gilchrist ran 12 yards and scored, making the score 28-21. During the next Tech drive, Shawn Jones connected a 26 yards pass to Emmett Merchant to tie the game 28-28. Tiggle's fumble recovery and the two back to back touchdowns gave Georgia Tech a boost of confidence that affected them positively throughout the remaining part of the game. Shortly after, Shawn Moore completed a pass to his wide receiver, Herman Moore, this 63 yards pass resulted in a touchdown, and Virginia was ahead in the score, 35-28. Within seconds of the end of the third quarter the Yellow Jacket running back William Bell ran eight yards and tied the game at 35. Going into the last quarter, the score was tied, but the positive momentum was on Tech's side after coming back from being down by 13 points in the first quarter.[6]

Fourth Quarter

Halfway through the fourth quarter, Scott Sisson kicked his first field goal of the day and gave Georgia Tech their first lead. After a 32 yard field goal, the visiting team was leading 38-35. With two minutes and 34 seconds left on the clock, the Cavaliers were forced to only take 3 points to tie the game at 38. Virginia had 1st and goal, but were unable to score a touchdown after they were pushed back by two illegal procedure penalties, one of them which called back a 6 yard touchdown. With the score tied at 38 and seven seconds left on the clock, Scott Sisson became a school hero by connecting a 37 yard winning field goal to make the score 41-38.[5] The game was ended by an interception made by Erick Fry in the Cavalier’s final drive of the game. Up to this point in the season, no other team had been within twelve points of the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter.


University of Virginia

The Cavaliers quarterback, Shawn Moore, passed for 344 yards and their rushing offense completed 234 yards. Virginia offense totaled 512 yards, four touchdowns, and three field goals. The Cavaliers also had six penalties resulting in 44 yards. Two of these penalties in the last minutes of the game forced them to kick a field goal.[4]

Georgia Tech

Shawn Jones, Yellow Jacket’s quarterback, passed for 257 yards and the rushing offense of Tech completed 206 yards. Totaling 463 yards in offense, five touchdowns and two field goals. Georgia Tech defense recovered the only fumble of the game, which resulted in a touchdown. Tech was penalized seven times resulting in the total loss of 51 yards. [4]

Reaction to the Game

Atlanta Journal

The Tech player in charge of holding the ball during the winning field goal was interviewed by the Atlanta Journal and was asked about the moments right before the special team took the field to kick the final field goal. “On the sidelines I got [Sisson] ready. He kicked into the net a few times, and I patted him on the head and told him, ‘ Just stroke it.’”

Sisson was also interviewed after the game and was asked about his thoughts right before he kicked the field goal. To this question he answered, “When I went out there, I knew we were at least tied and that makes you feel a lot better, going in with at least a tie with the No. 1 team in the nation.”

Coach Robert ‘Bobby’ Ross told the Atlanta Journal[5] that that had been the team’s pre-season goal, to be the first Tech team since the era of Bobby Dodd to win at least seven games in two consecutive seasons. Finally he added ‘I’ll admit it, we’re finally back. I’ve been reluctant to say that.” For Bobby Ross this game was extremely important. If they were victorious, he would achieve his pre-season objective and his team would be a potential contestant for the National Championship.

The Atlanta Journal also interviewed Jerry Gilchrist, another Georgia Tech player. He told the Atlanta Journal that he and Lester, one of his teammates, were reading the press and had read a lot of bad things about the team. He then concluded with this statement, “We didn’t want to leave on a down note, so we grabbed the Bible and opened it. It said, ‘A man’s pride shall bring him down, but the humble in spirit shall be honored.’” For Gilchrist and Lester the best sources of inspiration were the strong critiques against them and their team, and their goal during the game coming up was to reverse all the comments into positive ones.

The Technique

The Technique[6], the student newspaper at Georgia Tech, interviewed the Yellow Jackets' coach after the victory. Ross said, “That [seven wins] was one of my personal goals for the season.” Later on he told the interviewer that his father was in attendance, “This may be the last game my father will ever see.”

Jerry Gilchrist also shared his reactions after the game with the school newspaper. He confessed that, up to that point, he had not realized how important he really was to the team, “This game made [joining the football team] all worthwhile. I didn’t think I played such an important role in this game.” Gilchrist also described what he was thinking during the play where he scored the touchdown in the third quarter. “ I was excited when they called the reverse, I knew I was going to score when I saw [center] Billy Chubbs take out the free safety, McMeans.”

The Cavaliers quarterback, Shawn Moore, also shared his opinion with The Technique after the game. He told the student interviewer “[The loss] hurts, but we can still have a good season.” The school publication also said that the Cavalier's commented the following, “We put too much importance into this game.” In Virginia this game was an upset for everyone, as all the fans were expecting a Cavaliers' victory. Some Cavaliers accepted that they were too concerned with this match-up and gave it too much importance, making the loss even more significant.


The Virginia Cavaliers loss against Georgia Tech not only ended their undefeated season but also made them lose the number one ranking in the nation the following week. Virginia’s record after the game was seven wins and one loss. Georgia Tech kept their undefeated season improving their record to seven wins zero losses and one tie, which at this point, helped the Yellow Jackets improve the possibilities of winning the National Championship. The following week, Georgia Tech faced Wake Forest, which they had to beat in order to win the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) title. The following weekend the University of Virginia, faced the University of North Carolina, Georgia Tech’s only tie of the year. At the completion of the season Georgia Tech won the National Championship and finished undefeated, while Virginia finished with a record of eight wins and three losses.


  1. hectorir. Flickr, Yahoo. November 4, 1990.
  2. "1990 Virginia Cavaliers football team." Wikipedia.or. Web. 5 Oct 2010.
  3. "1990 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team." Wikipedia.or. Web. 5 Oct 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 1990 Georgia Tech Football Program. Season Statistics.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Maxie, Darryl. Fantastech!. The Atlanta Journal. November 4, 1990.
  6. 6.0 6.1 McFalls, Kenneth. Just win, Bobby: Tech topples Virginia Cavs. The Technique. November 9, 1990.

Source Summaries

Source Summary: 1990 Tech last second victory vs. No.1 Virginia

Source Summary: Technique 1990: November 9, GT victory vs. No. 1 UVA

Source Summary: Statistics of Yellow Jacket's victory vs. the Virginia Caveliers

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