ATLANTA -- Adam Gotsis had to watch nearly three-quarters of the game from the locker room on Saturday when he was ejected following a personal foul.
The senior defensive tackle broke through the offensive line and had a clear shot at North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams. Gotsis reached his arms around Williams, who was standing tall and throwing the ball when he was hit. In the follow-through, Gotsis’ helmet met Williams’ helmet.
The official called a personal foul for targeting. The call was confirmed and upheld by video review, and Gotsis was escorted to the dressing room.
“It was a big hit,” safety Jamal Golden said. “Gotsis is a big part of our team.”
The Yellow Jackets were already thin in the interior of the defensive line since Pat Gamble was out for the second straight game with a head injury. It put more pressure on Francis Kallon, who had three tackles) and Jabari Hunt, who started for Gamble and had two tackles. They even tried true freshman Kyle Cerge-Henderson.
The line eventually wore down, was unable to get much pressure on quarterback Marquise Williams and was unable to stop the Tar Heels. North Carolina wound up with 413 total yards. Only Notre Dame has tallied more.
“We’re not a very good pass rushing team with four guys,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “Not only that, but we lost contain a bunch. (Williams) scrambled a lot on third-and-long for first downs.”
CHANGES AT A-BACK
Clinton Lynch, a redshirt freshman from Norcross, got his first career start at A-back. Lynch got the opportunity when Broderick Snoddy was ruled out of the game because of a hand injury sustained last week against Duke.
Lynch made the most of the opportunity. He rushed eight times for 48 yards and one touchdown and caught a 13-yard pass for a first down.
True freshman Mikell Lands-Davis made his season debut. He ran three times for 18 yards and caught two passes for 24 yards, one a 19-yard touchdown.
“Mikell is athletic,” Johnson said. “He made a couple nice catches and at the end a couple not-so-nice plays. He’s going to get better.”
The Yellow Jackets even moved Lynn Griffin from nickel back to A-back to add some depth. Griffin was a two-way player in high school, but he has worked exclusively on defense at Georgia Tech. He had one carry for 6 yards.
“He wasn’t playing on defense, and he’s a really good athlete,” Johnson said.
The Yellow Jackets even used walk-on junior Austin McClellan, who gained 26 yards on three carries.
“We’ve lost so many guys on offense, we’ve got to play all those guys,” Johnson said. “They’ve got to contribute.”
Justin Thomas threw a touchdown pass to extend his streak to nine games. It matches the longest streak by a Georgia Tech quarterback since 2006.
Dating back to 2013, Georgia Tech has scored on its opening drive in 11 of 12 games. The Yellow Jackets scored a touchdown on its first possession against North Carolina.
Sophomore Antonio Simmons started at defensive end in place of Rod Rook-Chungong, who is still trying to overcome a shoulder injury. Rook-Chungong did play.
Defensive backs Chris Milton and Domonique Noble were injured in the fourth quarter and did not return.