By Rebecca Washney
ATLANTA—The Yellow Jackets were unable to keep their eight-game home winning streak and bowl-eligibility alive after falling to the Bulldogs 38-7.
The Jackets’ defense was no match for the Bulldogs, while TaQuon Marshall and KirVonte Benson were held back for much of the game, only rushing 131 yards between them.
“I don’t know if my frustration has ever been this high,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said.
After losing two of the last three match-ups between them, the Bulldogs had something to prove. Last season Georgia Tech rallied to defeat Georgia 28-27, with the Bulldogs leading by 13 before the Yellow Jackets came back to win.
This time, Georgia started out strong and didn’t slow down at all, taking advantage of every gap in the Yellow Jackets’ defense.
In the first quarter, Georgia Tech started with the ball but was forced to punt fairly quickly, with Mecole Hardman returning 28-yards to the Bulldog’s 39.
Tech couldn’t hold Georgia back, enabling the Bulldogs to speed towards their first touchdown on their first possession. Nick Chubb rushed the final yard into the end zone resulting in a 7-0 score by the end of the first quarter.
Georgia’s offense was practically unstoppable, getting another touchdown in the second quarter going another 61 yards in five plays, putting Georgia ahead 14-0.
“We were able to get it around them a few times, but they’re a good defense,” Georgia Tech’s Nathan Cottrell said.
The Yellow Jackets were finally moving forward after quarterback TaQuon Marshall rushed 17-yards for the first down, followed by Cottrell rushing for 33-yards all the way to the Bulldog 20-yard line. Marshall completed a ten-yard pass to Ricky Juene in the end zone for Tech’s first touchdown, but Georgia utilized the last minute and a half of play to get the 20-yard line and kick a 37-yard field goal, ending the half at 17-7.
In the third quarter, Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm completed a 39-yard pass to Mecole Hardman for the first down. On the next play, Sony Michel evaded Lance Austin’s tackle and rushed the final four yards for Georgia’s third touchdown, stretching Georgia’s lead to 24-7.
From there, the Bulldogs had Tech running in place, holding the Yellow Jackets to less than 100 yards and zero points the entire second half.
“They’ve got good backs,” cornerback Lance Austin said. “They did a good job. I’ll give them credit. We couldn’t get off the field on third downs.”
Georgia scored one more touchdown in the third quarter, this time by D’Andre Smith, who flipped over defenders and into the end zone for a scoreline of 31-7, effectively crushing Tech’s spirits and chances to come back.
The final quarter quickly turned worse for Tech after Marshall threw an interception to Isaac Nauta. Georgia took possession at the 15-yard line, and Jake Fromm nailed a 78-yard pass to Ahkil Crumpton, who ran in for the touchdown for the final score of 31-7.
The loss sinks Georgia Tech to 5-6 and keeps them from becoming bowl-eligible. Without a win, the Yellow Jackets’ season is officially ended, but Georgia Tech could receive a waiver and a bowl invitation at 5-6 due to its strong 983 Academic Progress Report score, but only if there aren’t enough .500 teams to fill all the slots.
Georgia leads the rivalry 66-41-5 and will play in the SEC Championship Game against either Auburn or Alabama in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. It will be the Bulldogs’ sixth appearance in the league title game.