By Don Stone - Georgia Tech Express
Tech is looking to go 3-0 for the fourth time in the last six seasons as
they host Vanderbilt. They are 2-0 for the seventh time in nine seasons
under head coach Paul Johnson. Although it seems like a rare meeting
with the Commodores, this is actually the 38th time the two teams have met.
A lot of games back when the Jackets were part of the SEC. But, the rare
part comes in because, since the Johnson administration, they only met three
times...in 2002, 03 and 09.
Que Searcy has been a go to guy so far this season for the Tech
offense. His 91 yards rushing last week was the most by a Jacket A-back
Vandy is 1-1 losing to South Carolina in their opener then beating Middle
Tennessee 47-24. They face their third different offense in three weeks.
Players to watch are running back Ralph Webb, who, with 211 yards
rushing last week, moved into fourth all-time on the school's list and needs
just 777 to break the school record. LB Zach Cunningham comes into
the game with a six game streak with at least 10 tackles.
It should be a heavy dose of ground game with both teams rushing for 883
yards in their two respective games.
Attendance was announced as 41,916. But, as Skip Caray used to say, a lot
of them were disguised as empty seats. Maybe the sparse crowd had chosen to
take in Music Midtown within walking distance of campus. Tech had called for
a Gold Out for this game. But, not sure that was a good idea since that is
also Vanderbilt's colors. Hard to tell who is for who in the crowd.
Georgia Tech got the ball first at their 19 and shocked the Vandy defense
with a pass to Marcus Marshall, who took it 81 yards to the house and
a quick 7-0 lead.
The Commodores tried to recover with their first drive at the 25, down by
7 with just 31 seconds elapsed in the game. On a third and nine QB Trent
Sherfield hit Caleb Scott for 12 and a first down at their 38.
Another completion to Webb for another first at the GT49. A facemask call on
DT Francis Kallon moved it to the 33. A third and four and another
first down catch by Corey Griffin at the 17. C.J. Duncan made
a short catch to bring up still another third down and three at the 10. And,
again to the air, this time for a game tying catch by Kalija LIpscomb.
J.J. Green had a nice return out to the 36. An off sides made it
first and five at the 40. Justin Thomas kept it for 19 to the VC41.
On a third and six, Thomas hit Quinton Lynch for a first at the 27.
Derrick Mills picked up six on the ground, then converted the first
into the red zone at the 15. A toss right to Mills and the freshman weaved
his way to the end zone to put GT back up by 7, 14-7.
Darrius Sims took the kickoff in the end zone and shouldn't have,
only making it out to the 19. So far, all of the Commodore success had
been in the air but Webb got them 15 and a first on a pair of carries to the
34. Head coach Derek Mason took his first time out with a third and
7. Sherfield looked to throw it, but saw nothing open and ran it, coming up
a yard short at the 43. The coach sent his team in to go for it but then
called his second time out to reconsider. This time, they wisely punted with
a roller to the GT16.
Lynch took a toss right and took it to the 40 for a first down. Thomas
was brought down in the backfield to bring up a third and ten as the first
quarter came to a close. A punt was fair caught at the ten.
A completion to TE Jared Pinkney got 8. But the defense stuffed
the run forcing the game's first three and out. A short punt wobbled its way
to the GT30.
An intended pass drew an interference call moving the ball to midfield. A
toss to Green and the back carried it for 18 to the VC32. A nice run by
Mills was nullified by a chop block call to make it first and 20 at the 38.
A first down pass to Jalen Camp at the 22 was also called back on a
holding call making it second and 28 at midfield. Two first downs called
back on penalties. Paul Johnson took his first time out. But the
penalties were too much to overcome. A nice Ryan Rodwell punt was
pinned at the one yard line.
Webb bought them a bit of breathing room with a tough seven yard
carry, then a first down at the 11. But that's all they got. Brad Stewart
fair caught the punt giving Tech great field position at their 48. But the
Jackets' first three and out and they failed to capitalize. The Dores
started at their 25.
Webb broke several tackles for 15 to the 35. A pass to Pinckney netted a
first at the VC49. They couldn't convert a third and six but they had
flipped the field with GT starting at their 16.
On a second an 13, Thomas took it up the middle for 17 and a first down
with 1:50 left in the first half. Another first with a pass to Stewart at
the GT46 but less than a minute to play. Another pass interference call put
them in Commodore territory at the 39. A chorus of disapproving boos sprang
up from the visitor's corner of the stands. Johnson called his second time
out at 0:52. A key third and 12 was handled with a nice catch by Searcy at
the 24 with 0:36 left. The drive stopped there with Harrison Butker
adding three on a 41 yarder. Tech lead 17-7 at the half. The Jacket defense
had held Webb to 52 yards.
Vanderbilt got the ball to start the second half and again, Sims
took it out when he shouldn't have giving his team the ball at their 18. But
a pair of completions by Lipscomb for nine and eight had them out to the 47.
Another first on a LIpscomb 18 yard catch got them into Tech territory at
the 37. RB Khari Blasingame rushed to the 28, just short of a first
down. CB Step Durham had to be helped off the field. Down by 10,
Mason decided to go for it on a fourth and one, possibly a pivotal play in
the game. It failed and Tech took over on downs.
On a third and nine, Thomas made something out of nothing running out of
bounds for 22 yards at midfield. A great run by Lynch took it all the way to
the 15. But, again, another penalty shortened positive yardage on a hold by
Stewart. Still, the ball was placed at the VC30 but a first and 20. Searcy
caught one at the 25 for a third and five then took a toss right and ran out
of bounds back at the 15 for a first down. A toss to Isiah Willis got
it to the four for a first and goal. Mills got the rest for a 24-7 lead.
Starting at their 25, the Jackets got their first sack forcing a punt to
the GT 36.
Thomas kept it, broke a few tackles and ran it 25 yards into Vandy
territory at the 43. Lynch added a bunch more for 29 to the 14. Two
Commodore players where banged up on the play, ILB Nigel Bowden and
CB Torren McGaster, who had to be helped off the field. A third
and five was helped by the defense jumping off sides. First and goal at the
five. Mills was tackled at the two and took four defenders with him as he
backed into the end zone. Tech was up 31-7.
Vandy got a first down to start their first fourth quarter drive to the
37, on short catches by Pinkney and Lipscomb. The defense held forcing a
punt to the 25.
With the game in hand, backups began showing up starting at Matthew
Jordan at QB. Bowen was hurt again and had to be walked off the field.
On a third and eight, the Jackets added insults to the injuries with a short
pass to Lynch who took it most of the 77 yards on his own to make it 38-7.
Vandy, down by 31, still had their starters in at their 25. The GT
defense was giving them short passes like a nine yarder to Nathan Marcus and
12 more to Caleb Scott. But, they didn't mean to complete one to DB
Doran Walker who took it back 64 yards to the 9. The first turnover
of the game was quickly followed by the second with a Jordan interception in
the end zone by CB Wade Ferguson. The ball was brought out to the 20.
But the Vandy offense continued to sputter with another three and out. Tech
took the punt at their 35 with 6:17 remaining in the game.
After another three and out, Tech took over at their 39.
Tech ran out the clock with TaQuon Marshall in at QB, highlighted
by a nice nine yard carry by Austin McClellan. On a fourth and 13,
Christian Philpott made a nine yard catch. Vandy took over at their 38
with 0:32 to play and made a few useless plays as time ran out.
The four hour drive back to Nashville would seem like eight for the Vandy
faithful who made the trip. For the Jackets, it was easily their most
complete game in awhile. You can't count last year's wins against Alcorn
State and Tulane. Even the FSU win was on a fluke last minute play. Probably
the 2014 New Year's Eve Orange Bowl win (49-34) over Mississippi State the
last time the Jackets had looked this good. They'll have their hands full
when they face 3-0 Clemson on a short week at home Thursday night. The
Tigers just finished a 59-0 demolition of South Carolina State. The best
they've looked since losing to Alabama in the national championship game
eight months ago.
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