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“Mission focused,” interim coach Brent Key, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets stunned No. 24 Pittsburgh Panthers

Jeff Sims threw for one touchdown and ran for another as Georgia Tech, less than a week after its coach and athletic director was fired, stunned No. 24 Pittsburgh 26-21 on Saturday night.

Georgia Tech allowed athletic director Todd Stansbury and coach Geoff Collins to leave Monday, two days after a 27-10 loss to UCF that dropped the Yellow Jackets to 1-3 on the season.

Collins was in his fourth season as coach, and the loss to the Knights last week was the Yellow Jackets’ ninth straight against FBS opponents since last season.

But interim coach Brent Key rallied the troops as the Yellow Jackets (2-3, 1-1 ACC) put up their best performance of the season. Though they had just 17 first downs and 334 total yards, they owned the ball for 31:04 in the rain at Pittsburgh and posted a 21.5-point underdog victory.

“I knew these guys had had it in them the whole time, and we just needed to get them on the same page,” Key said in his postgame on-field interview on ACC Network.

Pitt (3-2, 0-1) struggled to find his footing on the wet turf, finishing with just 106 rushing yards. It was Pitt’s second home loss of the year, after a 34-27 overtime decision loss to Tennessee last month.

Georgia Tech rushed for 232 yards and capped the victory with Sims’ 18-yard touchdown run with 1:25 left in the fourth quarter. Hassan Hall had 157 rushing yards for the Yellow Jackets.

“The coaches pulled them together, kept them focused on the mission, one day at a time, one play at a time to get this win,” Key said.

In a surprising turn of events, though it’s still fairly early in the season, the Yellow Jackets find themselves just a half-game behind Duke and North Carolina for first place in the ACC Coastal Division. They will host the Blue Devils on Saturday in Atlanta.

“I’m so happy for the kids, the coaches, the alumni base,” Key said. “We have a lot of work to do now… We have Duke in seven days.”

Key is the first Yellow Jackets alumnus to lead the program since Bill Curry’s tenure in the 1980s.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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