ATLANTA, GA – After a surprise bye week due to hurricane Irma, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-1, 1-0) returned to the field today for their ACC opener against the Pittsburgh Panthers (1-3, 0-1). Coming off a drubbing at home to top 10 Oklahoma State last week, Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi brought his Panthers down to Atlanta for more of the same.
Saturday’s contest at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field was largely a one-sided affair that ended with a 35-17 Yellow Jackets victory. If it weren’t for several costly turnovers for the Jackets, four to be exact, the game could have been over before the home crowd danced to the 3rd quarter Budweiser bop.
“Offensively we looked like we hadn’t played in two weeks,” said Tech head coach Paul Johnson. “It was sloppy. I think all four turnovers came from the same position which is disappointing. We got to clean that up because against a good team, we won’t be able to survive.”
The reason for Tech’s survival? The defense.
The Yellow Jackets defense took full advantage of two weeks off. After allowing a first possession touchdown to the Panthers, the defense responded for the near entirety of the game. One quick look at the box score says it all.
- The Jackets defense allowed 11 first downs for the game.
- The Jackets defense allowed the Panthers to convert just one 3rd down attempts on 13 tries.
- The Jackets defense allowed 235 yards total on the game, 79 of which came on the Panthers final two drives of the game with the game already iced and several 2nd team Tech defenders seeing their first action.
The Jackets defense was disruptive from the 2nd possession on, notching three sacks, 7 tackles for a loss and countless quarterback hurries.
“The defense played great,” said quarterback TaQuon Marshall. “If it weren’t for the defense, I don’t think we would’ve won the game, honestly. We had four turnovers, the defense went out and got the ball back.”
Running back KirVonte Benson concurred, “The defense played amazing. Like [TaQuon] said, I think we wouldn’t have come out with the W if it weren’t for the defense.”
It was largely a team effort from the defense with several guys stepping up throughout. Senior defensive ends KeShun Freeman and Antonio Simmons anchored a salty defensive effort with two tackles for loss apiece.
Said Freeman, “This is one of the better performances that we’ve had since I’ve been here. I’m proud of [the team]. People being in the right places at the right time, fitting in the right gaps, the defensive front getting some great production with sacks and tackles for a loss. I’m excited to see how we grow these next few games.”
Provided the defense continues this level of production, the next few games are sure to be exciting for the team and fans alike. Up next for Georgia Tech is a visit from North Carolina. While the Jackets snapped a two-game losing streak to Pittsburgh today, they have the opportunity to snap a three-game variety against the Tar Heels next Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
As for the Panthers? Head coach Pat Narduzzi may want to start worrying about his own team.
Other news and notes
- Quarterback TaQuon Marshall added two more touchdowns to his resume. He now has eight on the season, good for seventh-most all-time by a quarterback in Georgia Tech single-season history after just three games.
- Running back KirVonte Benson’s 196 yards is the most ever by a B-Back in head coach Paul Johnson’s 10 seasons with Georgia Tech.
- Georgia Tech’s defense forced seven three-and-outs on 14 Pittsburgh drives.
- Georgia Tech is now 8-2 in ACC openers under Paul Johnson.