Georgia Tech Dominates Jacksonville State 37-10 In The Home Opener

By Don Stone - Georgia Tech Express
September 9, 2017

 Matchup: Jacksonville State Gamecocks (1-0) at Georgia Tech (0-1)
 Date: Saturday, September 9. 12:30pm (ET)
 Location: Bobby Dodd Stadium
 
Georgia Tech Game Notes: Jacksonville State Game Notes:
 TV: Fox Sports South 
 Play-by-Play, Wes Durham; Analyst, James Bates; Sideline Reporter, Rebecca Kaple
 RADIO: In Atlanta: 680/93.7 The Fan
 
 Play-by-Play, Andy Demetra; Analyst, Sean Bedford; Sideline Reporter, Wiley Ballard
 Satellite: Sirius 98 / XM 206

  The key to this game could be one of endurance? Georgia Tech comes in on five days rest against a very good Jacksonville State team with two weeks rest.
  "You're coming off a very tough, physical game where you played until midnight," said GT head coach Paul Johnson. "And you've got to turn around (five days later) and play a really good team."
  The Jackets let a two touchdown lead slip away twice against Tennessee on Monday night. And even though Tech held the ball for 56:27 to the Volunteers 18:33 outgaining them 655 to 369, they still appeared to be out of gas as the close of the game.
  So, their have to be concerns about their durability on five days rest. Will they wear down as the game gets into the fourth quarter?
  Add to that the fact that the Georgia Tech had very little time to prepare for the Gamecocks. "We're going to have two and a half hours of total practice for Jacksonville State. An hour and a half (Thursday) and an hour (Friday)."
  Jacksonville State with two weeks to prepare will be a very difficult opponent. "I'm not sure people realize how good this team (The Gamecocks) is. Its not like we're trotting one of these lower level 1-AA teams in here. They've got some players."
  Yes, the Gamecocks are an FCS team. But, they have won the Ohio Valley Conference championship three consecutive years. They went 10-2 in 2016 and were ranked  #6 in the preseason FCS poll. Their 27-13 win over Chattanooga on August 26 moved them up a notch to #5, a 32-game regular-season winning streak against non-FBS foes.
  It was a beautiful day at Bobby Dodd Stadium, especially considering the terrible stuff to the south of us. But, it was a bit gusty, perhaps a factor as the game wore on.
  Jacksonville State won the toss and deferred. Starting at their 35, TaQuon Marshall dropped back to pass, then saw a huge opening on the left side and sprinted for 18 to the JS47. A last second toss right to Qua Searcy got it all the way to the 35. But, it all came back on a holding call putting the ball at the 44. On a third and seven, Marshall was sacked for a three yard loss. Pressley Harvin pinned them at their 11.
  The Gamecocks picked up a first down at the 23. QB Bryant Horn fumbled the ball forward but still gained three on the play. They failed to convert a third and seven and had to punt with Dean Kelly kicking it to the GT39.
  KirVonte Benson got a quick first down with a pair of carries to midfield. Marshall took a time out. Darius Jackson was in the backfield untouched and dropped Marshall for a sack. But, the QB got it back on the next play with a 33 yard pass to Quinton Lynch at the JS17. They could get no more. The crowd erupted when Shawn Davis put it through the uprights for the game's first points, 3-0.
  After a touchback, Jacksonville State began their drive at the 25. An off sides call on Antonio Simmons moved it to the 30. Roc Thomas got the first at the 38. But Anree Saint-Amour sacked Horn for a four yard loss to the 34. Horn completed a 19 yard pass into Tech territory at the 43. Thomas got 8 more on the next play to the 35. Six more and another first at the 29. Head coach John Grass took his first time out. but didn't get much with the call making it third and 7 at the GT26 as the first quarter came to an end.
  Horn looked for a receiver but chose to keep it on an 11 yard run for a first down at the GT15. A completion and missed tackle for a first and goal at the 8. Horn hit Krenwick Sanders at the left pylon to give the Gamecocks their first lead 7-3. 
  Ricky Jeune fielded a squib kick at the 26. JJ Green dropped a bad toss but scooped it up for a three yard gain. A toss to Searcy on the other side of the field got 15 to the 43.  The drive stalled there with a nice punt again pinning Jax State at their 14.
 The Tech defense held them to their first three and out. A 37 yard punt would have put the ball at midfield but an illegal block in the back call moved it back to the 38. Marshall wanted to pass but kept the ball for 7 and a first down at their 49. Siran Neal drew a holding call moving the ball to the JS45. Marshall on the keeper for six. Marshall had to come out after a vicious hit with Matthew Jordan coming in. Johnson went for it on fourth and one at the 36 and failed. The Gamecocks got the ball on downs at the 36. Marshall appeared to be alright on the sidelines.
  Thomas got a first down to the 49 with just under two minutes in the half. Then, maybe a game changer as Lance Austin picked Horn off and returned it 21 yards to the JS33. Marshall was back in at QB and tossed it to Green who got five on a tough run to the 27 Marshall found Jeune in the end zone despite a pass interference call. And, just like that, Tech had the lead back 10-7 with just over a minute to go in the half.
  The kick went out of bounds and was placed at the 35 with 1:20 on the clock. Thomas carried a swarm of Jackets for six to the 41, then caught a toss for a first down at their 46. Horn kept it for another first into Tech territory at the 44. Glass took his second timeout with 13 seconds remaining. After a four yard carry, they took their final time out with six seconds left. Seeing the alignment, Johnson took his second timeout. The play got 14 but the clock ran out with the Jackets holding a three point lead.
  The offense had been pretty much held in check with 140 yards total. But credit the defense with holding the Gamecocks to just seven points and 144 yards. A very even matchup so far. Still, the underdog Gamecocks had to be pleased coming out in the second half only down by three.
   Jacksonville State second half did not start off the way they wanted. First, they got the ball at their 13. Then, Step Durham picked off Horn at the 16.
  A holding call made it first and 20 at the 26. A toss left to Benson got 8 back. But, Marshall was sacked by Jonathan Hagler for a loss of five to make it third and 17 from the 23. Four down territory? Didn't matter as Jeune caught one at the 10, shook two defenders and ran it the rest of the way for his second touchdown and a 17-7 lead. The opposite of Monday night, both scores had come on turnovers.
  The Gamecocks got the ball at their 25. But, just like that, Horn fumbled the ball recovered by A.J. Gray.
  Not helping their cause, the defense held for a first down at the 19. Moving backward, a false start made it third and 14 from the 23. Trying to avoid a sack, Marshall threw it away. Showing confidence in Davis, the ball went through from 40. But, Johnson took the points off the board when a roughing the kicker call gave him a new set of downs at the 11. A dropped snap brought up a third and nine from the 10. Moving to the right, Marshall found an open Green in the back of the end zone. The penalty turned three into six with a missed extra point. A roughing the passer call was added on the kickoff. Tech extended the lead to 16, 23-7.
  Jacksonville State, after turning the ball over on their first two drives, would try again at the 25. The Gamecocks could at least be content to only lose 8 yards on the drive. At least they kept the ball. A 46 yard punt gave the Jackets the ball at their 35.
  Then, the most explosive play of the game as freshman BB Jerry Howard sprinted through the middle and took it 65 yards to pay dirt. The longest run by a freshman since Jonathan Dwyer did it against Sanford ten years ago. Their first TD without the benefit of a turnover.  Georgia Tech had turned a close game into a runaway, 30-7.
  Jacksonville State began at their 25  A pass interference call on Austin made it first and ten at the 45. Horn got the first down yardage needed for a new set of downs at the GT45. Thomas added 12 on the next play to the 34. Sanders caught one for 23 to the 10. Brandon Adams blew up the next play taking the QB down in the backfield. Down by 23, they settled on three with Cade Stinnett putting it through from 27 to make it 30-10.
  The game moved into the final quarter as Tech started at their 35 with Lynch getting a quick eight to the 43. A toss left to Searcy got nine more before going out of bounds Nathan Cottrell got in the game and picked up 5 to the 41. Marshall threw a rope to Searcy for a first down at the 14. Marshal got to the six for a third and one and tossed it to Cottrell who made it first and goal at the one. A QB keeper rubbed salt in the wound extending the lead to 27, 37-10.
  Reggie Hall didn't help his team when he fumbled the punt and was tacked at the nine. The picked up nine but had LG B.J. Autry hurt on the play. He had to be helped off the field. Freshman Antwan Owens sacked Horn to make it third and six  
  Another holding call on a punt moved Tech back from great field position to good at their 40. With the game in hand, Jordan came in to finish the game at QB and get some snaps. Cottrell picked up a first down at the 44. Joseph Roberts took Jordan down for a seven yard sack ending the drive. The punt was fair caught by Demontez Terry at their 20 with 3:02 left in the game. 
 The drive began with a six yard sack loss by Ted Roof's son, T.D. Roof followed by another. The freshman linebacker making an impression. The punt was shanked and almost went in the stands giving the Jackets the ball at the JS 26 with just 46 seconds to go and redshirt freshman Lucas Johnson in at QB. A toss to Howard got it to the 21. Tech ran out the clock having administered a beat down to a pretty good team.  Final score 37-10.
  In the end, although Marshall had another great day rushing for three TDs and passing for one, it was really the defense that won this one.  "I thought that the defense did a great job starting on the next to last series there in the first half when Lawrence Austin got the pick," said coach Johnson. "It was two- or three-straight possessions where we got turnovers and short field. We were able to hit a couple plays on third down down there in spite of ourselves."
  The third quarter is where the Jackets took over the game turning a close 10-7 contest into 30-10. From there, it was just a matter of getting some backups extra playing time.
  Next up, Georgia Tech would have headed south to Orlando to again play a team with two weeks rest. But, because of Hurricane Irma, the University of Central Florida in Orlando has been cancelled. The Yellow Jackets will take the extra week to prepare for the ACC opener with Pitt on September 23 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Game time has been set for 12:30pm.

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