ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech ran all over Alcorn State Saturday, when 10 different players carried the ball and the Yellow Jackets ground out 439 rushing yards in a 41-0 win, but they’re about to get run over by their coach.
At least on offense.
Head coach Paul Johnson was pleased by his defense’s first shutout in nearly five years. The new 3-4 scheme that first-year defensive coordinator Nate Woody installed stoned the Braves in the opener for both teams in Bobby Dodd Stadium.
About the other side of the ball, the one where Johnson calls plays? Not so much.
KirVonte Benson ran for two touchdowns and the Jackets took control early, scoring on the fourth snap of the game when Jordan Mason went 28 yards. The redshirt freshman fullback led Tech with 85 yards as one of four players to surpass 70 yards.
Yet in Johnson’s mind, Tech should’ve further dominated Alcorn State, maybe like when they opened the 2015 season with a 69-6 win over the Braves.
“I think any time you can win a game and win it in pretty dominating fashion, that’s a positive,” Johnson said. “At the same time, I was disappointed in the way we played offensively, for sure. … For as many guys as we have returning on offense (10 starters), that was a pretty sloppy performance.”
The Jackets punted just once and converted 8 of 12 third downs, but in the first half, Mason lost a fumble, quarterback TaQuon Marshall threw an interception and misfired badly several times while completing just 4-of-12 passes.
Also, Shawn Davis clanked a PAT off an upright after Tech went up 20-0 on Benson’s 5-yard run in the second quarter.
“I didn’t like how we played considering who we were playing,” Johnson said. “We should be able to move the ball and beat those guys.”
Marshall rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown and completed 9-of-18 passes for 104 yards, a score and an interception. Benson had 75 yards on 10 carries and backup quarterback Tobias Oliver had 72 yards on 12 carries.
Alcorn State quarterback Noah Johnson completed 10-of-15 passes, but never threatened Tech as he passed for just 51 yards.
The Yellow Jackets outgained the Braves 543-146 and blew the game open with three touchdowns in the third quarter.
Less than a minute after Benson scored on an eight-yard run early in the second half, Tech linebacker David Curry picked up a Marquise Forman fumble and ran 15 yards for a touchdown.
“I was going to tackle the running back, and it was just a routine scoop-and-score,” said Curry, a fourth-year junior who missed all of 2017 season with a foot injury suffered in the preseason. “It’s nothing special; we practice it all the time.”
The Braves, on the other hand, rarely play FCS teams.
“I thought out guys played fairly well,” Alcorn head coach Fred McNair said after his program took a $375,000 payout from Tech. “Our guys stood up to the task . . . Offensively, we didn’t score anything, but defensively, we held them down.”
Alcorn St.: The Braves have won four straight SWAC East division titles, but the FCS program was overmatched in looking for its first win over an opponent from a Power Five conference. Although nearly as big as Georgia Tech, Alcorn State couldn’t match the host team’s speed or skill in any facet of the game.
Georgia Tech: This game was all along going to be more than anything about how the new 3-4 scheme of Woody looked, and the Jackets didn’t disappoint. With a variety of blitzes, Tech limited Alcorn State’s rushing and passing attacks on the way to the first shutout since a 56-0 win over Syracuse on Oct. 19, 2013. The Braves converted just 2-of-13 third-down chances.
Marshall hit 5-of-6 passes for 79 passes in the second half, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Brad Stewart. “I lost my confidence in the first half after missing a couple balls and just got frustrated with myself,” he said after registering a career-high nine completions. “In the second half, starting off with a few short throws helped build my confidence back up.”
CHANGE OF DIRECTION
After Shawn Davis’ missed PAT, the fourth-year junior who missed much of last season after tearing an ACL while making a tackle on a kickoff at Miami was replaced by sophomore Brenton King, who hit all four of PATs. “Brenton King is the kicker,” Johnson said after the game.
Alcorn St.: The Braves will step down in competition to kick off their home schedule on Saturday with a non-conference game against Louisiana College, a Division III program.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets will step up and open ACC play Saturday at Pitt, where Tech has split a pair of games since the Panthers joined the conference in 2013.