Atlanta, Ga. — Even with the Jacksonville State University Gamecocks giving all they had early, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets imposed their will to strong-arm their first victory of the season.
A 37-10 blowout win didn’t seem likely at first, as the game seemed to be going very well for the Gamecocks. After JSU’s quarterback Bryant Horn connected with Krenwick Sanders giving the Gamecocks the 7-3 lead, they followed up with another chance to extend the lead; however, the Yellow Jacket’s defensive back Lawrence Austin picked off Horn deep in JSU territory late in the second quarter.
This led to an electrifying play by TaQuon Marshall, the starting quarterback for Georgia Tech. Marshall evaded some rushers before flinging the pigskin 27 yards in the air to Yellow Jacket wide receiver Ricky Jeune, who scored the touchdown with 1:20 left in the second quarter. After the extra point, this made the score 10-7 in favor of Georgia Tech.
Marshall on the day was 5-for-7 with 112 yards and three touchdowns.
The first half ended with Georgia Tech on top by a field goal. With momentum on the Yellow Jacket’s side, the four-time national champions continued to ride the wave, defensively, which, for their benefit, led to offense production.
In the beginning of the third quarter, Yellow Jacket defensive back Step Durham picked off another Horn pass with around 14 minutes left to go in the third.
Then — on the ensuing drive — Marshall hooked up with Jeune once more, but there was something special about this play. As Jeune caught the rock, he absorbed the contact, before scampering in for a TD score with 12:26 left in the third quarter. This made the Score 17-7 Yellow Jackets.
Jeune had two touchdowns with 50 yards receiving.
From here on out, it rained and poured. Following another sensational defensive play — a fumble recovery — Georgia Tech capitalized on another JSU mistake.
This time, Marshall tossed it to J.J. Green for a 10-yard touchdown, which made the score 23-7 with 8:57 left in the third quarter. At this point, JSU seemed overwhelmed, as the following scoring plays included a 65-yard touchdown run by Georgia Tech’s Jerry Howard with 52 seconds left in the third, and a Marshall 1-yard touchdown scamper with 5:33 left in the fourth.
Offensive lineman Parker Braun said this victory was huge, especially coming off a 42-41 overtime loss to Tennessee last Monday night.
“It’s really important, ” Braun said. “(Head coach Paul Johnson) Johnson’s been saying all week that the good teams don’t lose twice in a row. We really needed this. We needed this to start the year off right.”
The first half started with a little bit of a defensive struggle, as both teams were testing each other out like boxers in a prize-fight night.
The first meaningful drive transpired thanks to Marshall evading would-be tacklers after the initial play broke down. Marshall surveyed the field before unleashing a ball of fury headed to Georgia Tech running back Clinton Lynch, who caught the ball for 33 yards to the JSU 17.
Still, JSU was able to withstand the momentum, as JSU’s Traco Williams sacked Marshall on third and nine. The Yellow Jackets settled for a Shawn Davis field goal, though.
The Gamecock’s only score came with 12:26 left in the second quarter. Horn was 8-for-14 with 73 yards and a touchdown. Sanders caught a touchdown and had 34 yards receiving.
Roc Thomas rushed the ball for 86 yards.
Next up for the Yellow Jackets will be UCF.