DUBLIN — Dedrick Mills knew he just had to “finish the play” when given a chance to atone for a fumble in his first college game.
He made up for the mistake by also finishing Georgia Tech’s comeback win.
Mills’ 4-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds remaining capped a drive that included two big completions from Justin Thomas and lifted Georgia Tech to a 17-14 win over Boston College on Saturday.
Mills, a freshman from Ware County High School in Waycross, Georgia, said he had to regroup after fumbling in the third quarter.
“I kind of got down but Justin kept coming back up to me and saying ‘Hey man, you’ve got to forget that last play,'” Mills said. “… I got my chance again. I just had to finish the play.”
Thomas threw two key completions on the go-ahead drive. The senior passed to Qua Searcy for 22 yards on a fourth-and-19 play and found Ricky Jeune for 26 yards on third down.
“It felt like a movie,” Thomas said. “We stuck together. We kept our heads up high and we found a way to do it.”
Georgia Tech (1-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its first game played outside of the United States in the 124-year history of the program. Mills, who led the Yellow Jackets with 68 yards rushing, was especially impressed by the dramatic setting.
“In high school we had a good fan base,” Mills said. “The stadium was kind of big but wasn’t that big. Coming over here, being overseas for the first time with a big crowd, I haven’t played in anything like that.”
The Yellow Jackets’ only touchdowns came on their first and last drives of the game. Backup quarterback Matthew Jordan’s 3-yard scoring run capped the opening drive. Boston College held Georgia Tech’s spread-option attack to 240 yards, including 121 yards rushing.
“It’s tough,” said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. “I tell you, they’re as good defensively as anybody we’ve played, including Clemson or anybody. They’re good and we had a hard time getting anything going consistently.”
It was a crushing loss for Boston College (0-1, 0-1 ACC), which was winless in conference games in 2015 and has lost nine straight overall. The Eagles took a 14-7 lead on quarterback Patrick Towles’ 6-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
“There was a lot of improvement and there were a lot of good things were going on out on the field,” said Coach Steve Addazio. “We just need to learn how to close that game out. We had good opportunities in the red zone. We missed two field goals. You can’t do that. That’s two opportunities when you have limited possessions in the game.”
Towles, a graduate transfer from Kentucky making his first start for the Eagles, threw an interception and lost a fumble in the first half.
“I know, for a fact, that this football team will win a lot of football games this year,” Towles said. “It’s not going to be more of the same.”
Harrison Butker’s 39-yard field goal cut the lead to four points.
Jon Hillman’s 73-yard touchdown run on the Eagles’ first play of the second half tied the game at 7-7. Hillman ran for 102 yards on 17 carries.
The game, which had a 7:30 a.m. EDT kickoff, was played through rain, leaving the grass turf at Aviva Stadium slippery.
Georgia Tech: It was a confidence boost for the defense, as Georgia Tech won despite ending scoring at least 20 points in 21 straight conference games. The streak, which began in 2013, was the second-longest by a Power 5 team, behind TCU’s 22-game run.
Boston College: The Eagles’ defense, which led the nation in 2015 by allowing only 254.3 yards per game, looked strong again before Georgia Tech’s go-ahead drive. Colton Lichtenberg had a 43-yard field goal attempt blocked in the second quarter, and he missed a 35-yarder late in the third. Addazio called for the second attempt instead of going for the first down on fourth-and-1 from the Georgia Tech 18.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets will face FCS in-state rival Mercer for the first time in 75 years. The first game in Georgia Tech history came against Mercer on Nov. 5, 1892, and the teams’ last game came in 1938. Mercer revived its program, which had been dormant for 72 years, in 2013.
Boston College: The Eagles will take a break from the ACC schedule when they look for their ninth straight win over in-state rival UMass. The last win for UMass in the series came in 1978.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org