Yellow Jackets run away from Wake Forest in second half on way to 4-2 start

Written by Derek Robbie
Atlanta, GA – Georgia Tech faced off against Wake Forest in a fantastic contest of two fairly even ACC teams. The Yellow Jackets outlasted the Demon Deacons 38-24 in an offensive thriller.

On their first drive, Georgia Tech was running all over the Demon Deacons’ defense. Although, as soon as the Yellow Jackets got inside the red zone, Wake Forest’s defense tightened up significantly, and forced Tech to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Brenton King. Yellow Jackets took 3-0 lead with just under seven minutes in the first quarter.

Georgia Tech had all the momentum until they chose to go for it on 4th and 7. Demon Deacons defensive end Duke Ejiofor found himself in Georgia Tech’s backfield and brought down quarterback TaQuon Marshall for a 13-yard loss and a turnover on downs. At that point, Wake Forest had seized the momentum. Wake Forest got the ball inside the 50-yard line, and it only took them seven plays to march down the field and score. The touchdown came on a seven-yard pass from quarterback John Wolford to receiver Scotty Washington. Washington’s touchdown gave the Demon Deacons a 7-3 lead with under 20 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Yellow Jackets made sure to respond on their next drive. They tried to retake control of the game by keeping things simple and getting back to their signature triple-option offense. So, the Yellow Jackets ran on 12 of their 13 plays. The touchdown eventually came from B-back Jerry Howard on a two-yard rush right up the gut for the second of his career. Howard’s rush gave Georgia Tech a 10-7 lead with nine and a half minutes in the first half.

Wake Forest’s next touchdown came from Wolford’s slant pass to wide receiver Tabari Hines for a 15-yard score. Hines slipped right through the arms of the Georgia Tech defensive back and saw the field wide open for him to find the end zone. Wake Forest retook the lead at 14-10 with six minutes left in the second quarter.

The Demon Deacons scored another touchdown with a minute left in the second quarter. A 16-yard completion to wide receiver Greg Dortch and a 16-yard rush from running back Cade Carney helped bring Wake Forest within striking distance. Wolford sneaked the ball into the end zone for the score to give the Deacons a 21-10 lead.

Georgia Tech quickly marched down the field with a minute left in the first half. Although, they did receive help from a penalty when linebacker Jaboree Williams hit Marshall out of bounds. The penalty brought the Yellow Jackets within field goal range, and Brenton King proceeded to make the 42-yard field goal to cut Wake Forest’s lead to 21-13 at the end of the half.

Georgia Tech’s Marshall ran for a 49-yard touchdown on their first play on their opening drive of the second half. The Yellow Jackets decided to go for two to tie the game at 21 apiece, but they could not convert. Tech reduced the lead to 21-19 with 13 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Marshall’s touchdown was his tenth of the season, making him one of only three quarterbacks in the program’s history to rush for ten in one season.

A couple of drives later, Wolford found Dortch for a big 42-yard connection through the air to bring the Demon Deacons inside the red zone. However, Wake Forest could not take advantage of their good field position and had to settle for a field goal from Mike Weaver. Weaver’s 29-yard field goal gave his team a 24-19 lead with seven and a half left in the 3rd quarter.

Yellow Jackets’ A-back, Qua Searcy received a pitch from Marshall and broke free for a 42-yard touchdown. Searcy’s trip to the end zone gave Georgia Tech their first lead since the middle of the first quarter. Head coach Paul Johnson decided to go for two again, and they failed to convert for the second time.  Georgia Tech’s failed two-point conversion gave them a 25-24 lead with over four minutes to go in the third quarter.

KirVonte Benson ran an 11-yard rush for a touchdown with 12 minutes left in the game, but the extra point was blocked, so the score was 31-24. Benson finished the game with 136 yards on 26 carries with one touchdown

Marshall ran for another massive touchdown, this time it was for an impressive 70-yards. Marshall’s long rushing touchdown was enough to put the game out of reach for the Deacon Demons and giving the game the final score of 38-24.

When asked about his two-long touchdown runs, Marshall said, “Great blocking up front. The guys opened up some holes for me, Ricky [Jeune] made a great block on the perimeter, and I just tried to make a play. Tried to get the game in our favor.”

“That was a heck of a football game,” Paul Johnson said “I was really proud of the guys in the second half. I think Wake Forest is a good team. They’ve played everybody close all year… To come out in the second half, the defense did a nice job of holding them to three points and got some fourth-down stops. On offense, we were able to get some big plays and get in the end zone.”

Georgia Tech’s next game is a big test at Clemson next Saturday at 8:00 p.m. EST at Clemson Memorial Stadium.

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