ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech was unable to take advantage of its own strength against Georgia on Saturday in their 31-17 loss. The Yellow Jackets failed to produce the big rushing yards needed in a game against a nationally ranked opponent.
Georgia Tech rushed 53 times for 243 yards, which matched the team’s second lowest rushing total of the season. Only against Miami (134 yards) did Georgia Tech rush for fewer yards. And Georgia prevented the big play, as Georgia Tech’s longest run was a 27-yarder by Embry Peeples.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a lot,” senior A-back Roddy Jones said. “They switched up some looks, so you have to give them credit. They didn’t sit back and stay in one scheme. They brought some blitzes and different things.”
Jones, a senior from Chamblee, had his most productive game of the season. He carried 11 times for 72 yards, a 6.5-yard average, and caught one pass for 6 yards. Jones has carried 52 times for 438 yards and three touchdowns this season.
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Orwin Smith had moments when he looked his old self, but he didn’t get as many carries due to the effectiveness of Jones.
Smith, a junior from Phenix City, Ala., did not play last week against Duke because of a painful turf toe injury. Healthy enough to compete again, although not at full strength, Smith carried seven times against Georgia for 46 yards, an average of 6.6 yards per carry. Smith made a nice catch for a 20-yard reception.
His best run came in the fourth quarter when he took a pitch from Tevin Washington around left corner, beat a Georgia defender and dove into the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown. For the season, Smith has 616 yards on 60 carries for 11 touchdowns.
B-back David Sims had trouble early in the game but kept pounding it on the dive play and wound up with 36 yards on 12 carries. He scored on a 5-yard run.
“For most of the game, we felt like we could move the ball on them, we would always stalemate,” Jones said. “Missed assignments, missed blocks those things killed us. We can’t get in second-and-long, third-and-long because we’re not built for that. We just didn’t execute enough.”
For example, Georgia Tech settled for a field goal for its points rather than a touchdown after being unable to score on first-and-goal from the 9. The big play came on third down at the 2 when Georgia’s Garrison Smith blew up the inside blocking and smothered Tevin Washington for a 3-yard loss. That left the Yellow Jackets with no choice except to kick a field goal.
The most troublesome stretch came in the third quarter when Washington threw a pair of interceptions in Georgia Tech territory, stressing a defense that already had its hands full. The second interception led to a touchdown that gave Georgia a 31-10 lead.
“For us the margin of error was small and we didn’t take advantage of a couple of opportunities we had early,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “When we did that we got behind and we could never claw ourselves back into the game. We had a hard time of that.”