Jack­ets run past, shut out Al­corn State to open up with win

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY - By Matt Win­kle­john

AT­LANTA — Ge­or­gia Tech ran all over Al­corn State Satur­day, when 10 dif­fer­ent play­ers car­ried the ball and the Yel­low Jack­ets ground out 439 rush­ing yards in a 41-0 win, but they’re about to get run over by their coach. At least on of­fense. Head coach Paul John­son was pleased by his de­fense’s first shutout in nearly five years. The new 3-4 scheme that firstyear de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Nate Woody in­stalled stoned the Braves in the opener for both teams in Bobby Dodd Sta­dium.

About the other side of the ball, the one where John­son calls plays? Not so much.

KirVonte Ben­son ran for two touch­downs and the Jack­ets took control early, scor­ing on the fourth snap of the game when Jor­dan Ma­son went 28 yards. The red­shirt fresh­man full­back led Tech with 85 yards as one of four play­ers to sur­pass 70 yards.

Yet in John­son’s mind, Tech should’ve fur­ther dom­i­nated Al­corn State, maybe like when they opened the 2015 sea­son with a 69-6 win over the Braves.

“I think any time you can win a game and win it in pretty dom­i­nat­ing fash­ion, that’s a pos­i­tive,” John­son said. “At the same time, I was dis­ap­pointed in the way we played of­fen­sively, for sure. ... For as many guys as we have re­turn­ing on of­fense (10 starters), that was a pretty sloppy per­for­mance.”

The Jack­ets punted just once and con­verted 8 of 12 third downs, but in the first half, Ma­son lost a fum­ble, quar­ter­back TaQuon Mar­shall threw an in­ter­cep­tion and mis­fired badly sev­eral times while com­plet­ing just 4-of-12 passes.

Also, Shawn Davis clanked a PAT off an up­right after Tech went up 20-0 on Ben­son’s 5-yard run in the sec­ond quar­ter.

“I didn’t like how we played con­sid­er­ing who we were play­ing,” John­son said. “We should be able to move the ball and beat those guys.”

Mar­shall rushed for 77 yards and a touch­down and com­pleted 9-of-18 passes for 104 yards, a score and an in­ter­cep­tion. Ben­son had 75 yards on 10 car­ries and backup quar­ter­back To­bias Oliver had 72 yards on 12 car­ries.

Al­corn State quar­ter­back Noah John­son com­pleted 10-of-15 passes, but never threat­ened Tech as he passed for just 51 yards.

The Yel­low Jack­ets out­gained the Braves 543-146 and blew the game open with three touch­downs in the third quar­ter.

Less than a minute after Ben­son scored on an eight-yard run early in the sec­ond half, Tech line­backer David Curry picked up a Mar­quise For­man fum­ble and ran 15 yards for a touch­down.

“I was go­ing to tackle the run­ning back, and it was just a rou­tine scoopand-score,” said Curry, a fourth-year ju­nior who missed all of 2017 sea­son with a foot in­jury suf­fered in the pre­sea­son. “It’s noth­ing spe­cial; we prac­tice it all the time.”

The Braves, on the other hand, rarely play FCS teams.

“I thought out guys played fairly well,” Al­corn head coach Fred Mc­Nair said after his pro­gram took a $375,000 pay­out from Tech. “Our guys stood up to the task . . . Of­fen­sively, we didn’t score any­thing, but de­fen­sively, we held them down.”

THE TAKE­AWAY

Al­corn St.: The Braves have won four straight SWAC East divi­sion ti­tles, but the FCS pro­gram was over­matched in look­ing for its first win over an op­po­nent from a Power Five con­fer­ence. Although nearly as big as Ge­or­gia Tech, Al­corn State couldn’t match the host team’s speed or skill in any facet of the game.

Ge­or­gia Tech: This game was all along go­ing to be more than any­thing about how the new 3-4 scheme of Woody looked, and the Jack­ets didn’t dis­ap­point. With a va­ri­ety of blitzes, Tech lim­ited Al­corn State’s rush­ing and pass­ing at­tacks on the way to the first shutout since a 56-0 win over Syra­cuse on Oct. 19, 2013. The Braves con­verted just 2-of-13 third-down chances.

PASS­ING GRADE

Mar­shall hit 5-of-6 passes for 79 passes in the sec­ond half, in­clud­ing a 24-yard touch­down pass to se­nior wide re­ceiver Brad Ste­wart. “I lost my con­fi­dence in the first half after miss­ing a cou­ple balls and just got frus­trated with my­self,” he said after reg­is­ter­ing a ca­reer-high nine com­ple­tions. “In the sec­ond half, start­ing off with a few short throws helped build my con­fi­dence back up.”

CHANGE OF DI­REC­TION

After Shawn Davis’ missed PAT, the fourthyear ju­nior who missed much of last sea­son after tear­ing an ACL while mak­ing a tackle on a kick­off at Mi­ami was re­placed by sopho­more Bren­ton King, who hit all four of PATs. “Bren­ton King is the kicker,” John­son said after the game.

UP NEXT

Al­corn St.: The Braves will host Divi­sion III Louisiana Col­lege.

Ge­or­gia Tech: The Yel­low Jack­ets will go on the road for a non-con­fer­ence test against South Florida.

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