The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets started the game a bit out of kilter I don’t know if it had anything to do with the emotional loss to Tennessee and the short turnaround to get ready for this game. Certainly, Jacksonville State has to be credited for their efforts.
Defensively they played a stellar game with a key objective to put a hat on the marked man current ACC offensive back of the week Taquon Marshall. He earned the award in his first start five days ago versus the Tennessee Vols.. for his outstanding record setting performance 249 yards rushing, 120 yards passing and five touchdowns in a heartbreaking double overtime loss.
They laid some real lumber to him. At one point during the second quarter on back to back plays he made the pitch but paid the price for going down the line. The hits started to take a toll as he started to lay on the ground. Shortly after he was struck again this time, he really struggled to make it to his feet. Coach Paul Johnson came to the rescue by sending in backup QB Mathew Jordan to allow him to gather his bearings.
Meanwhile, Dr. Lance Austin filled a prescription with exactly what Tech needed an interception. He stepped in front of a Bryant Horn pass and ran it back for 21 yards down to the Jacksonville State 32 yard line for their best starting point in the game. Marshall returned and connected with Ricky Jeune on a 27-yard touchdown pass. The defender did everything he could to prevent it including pass interference.
Except for that play Jacksonville State looked great in the first half. The defense featuring Darius Jackson was playing big boy football. They held tech from scoring early as most DI teams do when playing a lesser opponent. At times Tech looked discombobulated not lining up properly on offense forcing a timeout and receiving a sideline warning from the officials
Jacksonville State was first to score a touchdown. They were leading 7-3 with 1:20 remaining in the half. Then the mishap could you have imagined the thoughts if they had gone in at the half leading. Instead, it was Tech 10-7.
Lawerence Austin On the interception and how the play changed the mood of the team:
“I saw a sprint out, and when we see that, we run our play. The defensive line got great pressure, which made it easy for me. He threw it right to me. The play got momentum on our side. We took a shot right after that where TaQuon [Marshall] made a good throw, and Ricky Jeune made a great catch. Momentum going into the half was what we needed.”
State started the second half with the ball but gifted Tech with another interception on their 16-yard line. That man 40 Darius Jackson struck with another stick on Marshall. Suddenly they were faced with 3rd and 17 from the 23 they were moving the ball in the wrong direction. Just as the defense stood, Marshall threw a demoralizing bullet to Ricky Jeune for a 23-yard touchdown. This time defensive holding it didn’t matter the score was 17-7 in favor of the Yellow Jackets.
On the next drive QB, Horn coughed up a non-forced fumble at the Gamecocks 29 yard line. Defensive holding moved the ball down to the 19-yard line. Darius Jackson with an impressive display of speed ran Marshall down from the backside for a 1-yard loss. They had no answer for him. He was on the loose and hunting for Marshall. And he had his aim calibrated properly on the target. Again the defense stood tall forcing Tech to attempt a field goal the kick was successful, but there was a roughing the kicker penalty. They decided to take the points off the board and be rewarded with another opportunity to score a touchdown. Marshall took the snap and gave the crowd a scare by fumbling fortunately he recovered. On the next play, he connected with JJ Green for a 10-yard touchdown pass. This time he was wounded by Nose Guard Randy Robinson who came with the full force of his stout 305 Lbs. Frame directly into to Marshalls’ chest he lingered momentarily while gathering himself down on one knee. The extra point failed to give them the lead 23-7.
The Jackets defense started to swarm forcing a three and out. Anree Saint-Amour went on a defensive tear stopping Roc Thomas for a 3-yard loss then followed that up with 8-yard sack on QB Bryant Horn Momentum was clearly on the Georgia Tech side players were excited jumping around with incredible swag. Whatever caused the inconsistent and lethargic play in the first half it was gone. Coach Paul Johnson described it better “It looked like we were playing in sand. A couple of guys just didn’t look like they were playing very fast. It is what it is. Like I said, we win the game and thank goodness the defense showed up and played big.
The flood gates flung open and Freshman B Back Jerry Howard exploded through the middle of the line with a 65-yard touchdown run on his second touch of the game. Most teams would have buckled not the three straight Ohio Valley Conference Champions.
Jacksonville State put together a champions caliber drive making it down to the Tech 5 yard line before Brandon Adams blew up the entire offensive line and crushed running back Tramel Terry for a 5-yard loss. They settled for a field goal which was their last score of the game. Tech put up one more score themselves to earn the victory over FCS opponent Jacksonville State 37-10
Paul Johnson On whether he has admiration for teams like Jacksonville State:
“Yeah. I knew they had good players. They’re going to play really hard when they come in and you get a chance to play. I was talking to one of their coaches before the game. He said they don’t have a game next year because they can’t find anyone that will play them. You can see why. It’s like there’s nothing to gain and everything to lose. They’ve got a good team. I don’t suspect a lot of people in the OVC will beat them.”
Interesting Facts of the Game
- Taquon Marshall took a beating but exited the game with all extremities He contributed 4 touchdowns three passing and one running. 5 for 7 passing for 112 yards and 3 touchdowns. 13 carries for 25 yards.
- Ricky Jeune caught 2 passes for 50 yards both for touchdowns.