Georgia Tech

Notebook: Ground game big for Yellow Jackets in second half

ATHENS -- The Georgia Tech offense went back to doing what it does best in the second half against Georgia and it wound up making the difference in the game.

The Yellow Jackets, who had thrown the ball 14 times in the first half, decided to pound it and stick with the ground game in the second half. Georgia Tech threw it only twice in the second half and prospered when giving the ball to B-backs Synjyn Days and Zach Laskey.

“I wouldn’t say they were worn down, but they had no answer for what we were doing, so we just kept running the same thing,” Georgia Tech senior guard Shaq Mason said.

Georgia Tech had 280 of its 463 total yards in the second half. All 280 came on the ground, most of on dives and between the tackles.

Laskey carried 26 times for a career-high 140 yards and three touchdowns and Days, who hobbled off the field in the fourth quarter with a twisted ankle, ran 16 times for 94 yards.

“We felt it was going to be that kind of game, just pounding the ball and running the game,” Days said. “(Georgia’s) Nick Chubb did a great job running the ball, too, and some of the other running backs. But me and Zach felt like we would be able to take over the game if they just kept feeding us the ball more and more and letting us wear down the defense.”

Laskey moved up to 15th on the school’s career rushing list with 1,930 yards, passing Leon Hardeman, Orwin Smith and Roddy Jones.

Smelter injured

DeAndre Smelter of Macon injured a knee after making a first-down reception in the second period and did not return.

Smelter had a 17-yard reception on third-and-5, but came up gimpy after he was taken down. He jumped up and walked to the sideline, favoring his left leg.

Smelter had three catches for 44 yards and one rush for 7 yards when he was injured.

Butker kicks 53-Yarder

Kicker Harrison Butker told head coach Paul Johnson that his leg was feeling strong on Saturday.

He needed all his right leg could muster when he kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal to tie the game at the end of regulation.

“My mindset was it was a long field goal at the end of the game and give it all you had and no regrets,” Butker said. “I knew just had to keep it straight and it would go in.”

Butker’s previous long field goal had been 46 yards against Tulane. He missed a 52-yarder against Duke.

The 53-yarder was the 19th made field goal of 50-plus yards in school history and the first since Luke Bell’s 51-yarder against Virginia in 2007.

It was an odd day for Butker, who had a field goal and an extra point blocked. It was his first blocked field goal of the season and his first missed extra point.

Tech’s bizarre fumble

One of the more bizarre plays occurred early in the second half.

Georgia Tech took the opening kickoff and, starting from its own 8, drove all the way to the Georgia 2. On third-and-goal, quarterback Justin Thomas carried it up the middle and seemed to be stopped. But Georgia’s Damian Swann came out of the pile with the ball and ran 99 yards for a touchdown.

Johnson asked that the play be review, insisting that Thomas either scored a touchdown or had his knee on the ground. But officials did not see enough evidence to overturn the play and Georgia had a 14-7 lead.

“We take eight or nine minutes off the clock and drive it all the way to the other end and have it on the 1,” Johnson said. “The next thing you know is that we’re down seven instead of being up seven.”

Thomas, who lost two fumbles, said, “It’s something that we can’t get back, so I’m not going to discuss it. I felt like I was in, but they said I wasn’t, so we had to move on. We did that and came out on top.”


Georgia Tech is now 5-7 in overtime games.

It was the first overtime win for the Yellow Jackets since they beat Wake Forest 30-27 in 2009. Georgia Tech has won four of its past nine games in Athens. ...

Defensive tackle Adam Gostsis blocked his second kick this season. ...

Thomas is now tied for sixth on Tech’s single-season list with 16 passing touchdowns, tying Eddie McAshan (1972) and Reggie Ball (2004).