Georgia Tech ran all over West Carolina in a 35-17 victory at Bobby Dodd Stadium Saturday night.
Weather played a factor when during pregame warmups, players on both sides were dropping passes and slipping on the turf. Even Buzz, the boisterous mascot, took a few tumbles in the pregame action.
Western Carolina won the coin toss but deferred to the 2nd half, allowing the Yellow Jackets to catch them with an early blow offensively.
Georgia Tech would go three out and punt it to the Catamount’s 11-yard line. Five plays later, quarterback Carlos Davis launches the football in a high arcing, cloud-grazing throw which finds wide receiver Terrance Horne for a 49-yard touchdown pass.
The Yellow Jackets would respond on the following drive, with quarterback Jeff Sims keeping the drive alive with his feet. After that, however, Sims would have a bit of an off night, only completing 8-of-17 passes for 100 yards and an interception.
On first and goal, running back Dontae Smith followed his blockers on the right side of the line and punched it in, tying the game up 7-7 with 8:22 left in the first quarter.
Western Carolina would once again slice and dice through the Tech defense as Davis found receiver Toler Kiegley on a wheel route 22 yards into the endzone.
Donate Smith would even the score, this time cutting through the middle and hitting his head on the goal post on a 51-yard score.
The Yellow Jacket defense would catch a reprieve when safety Derrik Allen picked off Davis early in the second quarter. Five plays later, on a double reverse, receiver Nate McCollum runs on a tight rope as he manages to stay inbounds for the 40-yard touchdown run.
As if on cue, Tech’s defense would come up with another turnover as corner Myles Sims picks off Davis in Western Carolina territory with 3:13 left in the second quarter. Then, as if he has a personal vendetta against the state of North Carolina, Smith rushed for his third touchdown of the half, this time from three yards out, extending the Yellow Jackets’ lead to 28-14 heading into the half.
Smith finished the night with 11 rushes for 102 yards and three touchdowns. Tech would rush for 243 yards as a team.
Western Carolina opened the third quarter with the ball, but a wild snap stalled their drive as the Yellow Jackets recovered it. The next play, Jeff Simms would look for the money shot but would end up broke as his pass ends up in the hands of Catamount corner Rod Gattison.
The Yellow Jacket defense remained staunch, only allowing the opposing offense to cross midfield once the entire quarter. On offense, the running game featured the bread-and-butter with another rushing touchdown, a two-yard rush from Dylan McDuffie.
Late in the third, Catamount quarterback, Carlos Davis would be knocked out of the game on a scramble that resulted in Davis heading into the locker room.
The turnovers kept coming as backup quarterback Cole Gonzales throws it right at Tech linebacker Charlie Thomas, marking the Catamount’s fourth turnover of the night and a 35-17 victory for the Yellow Jackets.
Coach Geoff Collins recognizes that the offensive line played a major role in Saturday’s victory.
“I thought they were getting a good push all night, and I am really proud of Dontae and the offensive line as a whole,” Collins said.
After committing 10 penalties in last week’s loss against Clemson, Collins wanted to stress the importance of maintaining discipline in practice.
“Tighten up, and the critical mistakes we made last week are all fixable mistakes,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that there will be a magical wand that will fix it l, but it will all naturally fix as we work on it every single day.”
Georgia Tech returns to Bobby Dodd to face SEC opponent Ole Miss on Sep. 17.
Author: Banji Bamidele