Georgia Tech got the ball first in overtime, but quarterback Tevin Washington threw an interception.
Tevin Washington’s 10-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds left in regulation had given the Yellow Jackets a 17-14 lead.
Logan Thomas then drove the Hokies into position and Journell’s 41-yard field goal tied it at the end of regulation.
After Washington’s turnover in overtime, needing only to score to win, the Hokies got runs of 6 and 18 yards from Michael Holmes, before Journell spared them another crushing loss in a big early game.
The Hokies trailed 17-14 until Journell, who had earlier missed from 38 yards, made his first kick.
Until his overtime mistake and Journell’s clutch kicking, Washington was primed to be the star.
Georgia Tech’s run-first quarterback hit Deon Hill with a 10-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds remaining, stunning the sellout crowd in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Four plays earlier, Washington was flushed from the pocket on a fourth-and-6 play from the Hokies 37, and after eluding a pass rusher, he found former Jefferson County standout B.J. Bostic with three defenders around him for a 19-yard gain on the right sideline to keep the drive alive.
The Hokies, who had gone ahead on Thomas’ 42-yard scoring pass to Demitri Knowles with 7:46 to play, got the ball back and drove to the Yellow Jackets 24 with 6 seconds remaining.
The Yellow Jackets used a timeout to try to ice Journell, but his kick sailed through the uprights to tie it at 17.
Fans didn’t even wait for the officials to signal the kick good, but took their cues from the reactions of those with a better view and were already celebrating having scored more points in the last 7:46 than the first 52:14.
Before the offensive flurry in the fourth quarter, the game was a punting contest that turned on a punt that went awry.
Georgia Tech had managed just two first downs when Hokies freshman punter A.J. Hughes set them up with a mistake.
Dropped back in punt formation near midfield, he let a snap go through his hands and scrambled to fall on it for a 22-yard loss.
The put the Yellow Jackets at the Hokies 24, and three runs tied it. On the 12-yard touchdown, Robert Godhigh went wide around the left side, dodged defenders, broke several tackles and scored easily, making it 7-7 just 26 seconds into the second quarter.
The mistake seemed to knock the Hokies off their stride, and neither team threatened the rest of the half.
The Yellow Jackets finally started moving the ball and went ahead 10-7 on a 34-yard field goal by David Scully to start the fourth quarter.
The score came after a 15-play, 56-yard drive that not only took 7:18 off the clock, but included three short third-down conversions and left the Hokies defenders looking as if the high humidity was finally starting to wear them down.
After falling behind, Thomas and the offense finally gave the defense a break, driving from their 23 to the Yellow Jackets 21 in 11 plays, but Journell missed.
The rested Hokies didn’t let it keep them down long, holding the Yellow Jackets and forcing a punt.
This time, Thomas worked quickly. He hit Marcus Davis for 35 yards on second down, and when Davis fumbled the ball at the end of the run, Corey Fuller recovered at the Yellow Jackets 42.
On the next play, Thomas hit speedy wide receiver Demitri Knowles for the touchdown in the right corner, his first career reception.
Knowles beat Rod Sweeting, who also was called for pass interference on the play.
The Hokies had the upper hand early, moving the ball and stopping the Yellow Jackets on three plays on their first series.
Thomas did the bulk of the work for the Hokies, running 4 yards for a first down on a third-and-2 play, and hitting Kyle Fuller for 12 yards on third-and-11 from the Georgia Tech 34.
After two runs by Michael Holmes for 17 yards, Thomas floated a touch pass over the Yellow Jackets defense to Eric Martin for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.