If there was a bright spot for Georgia Tech in its one-sided loss to Clemson, it was the play of B-back KirVonte Benson, who surpassed 100 rushing yards for the fifth time this season.
“KirVonte ran hard,” coach Paul Johnson said. “There wasn’t a lot of room in there. We had a hard time cutting them off in there.”
Despite facing a stellar defense, Benson kept pounding it inside, looking for a crease to magically appear. He wound up rushing 16 times and gaining 129 yards, an 8.1-yard average.
Benson broke free for a couple of big plays. The first was a 65-yard run in the first quarter that saw him drag defenders several yards until he was tackled at the Clemson 9. After a fumble on the first possession, Benson appeared more concerned with ball security than anything else.
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“He was so concerned with hanging onto that thing I don’t think he was able to open up when he got in the secondary,” Johnson said. “They’re fast on defense.”
Benson said, “Clemson is a good team. They run a good, sound defense. They executed well and we couldn’t pick it up as much as we should have. They came to play today. We’ve got to move on and play better.”
Passing game struggles
Georgia Tech threw for a season-low 32 yards against Clemson. The Yellow Jackets completed three of 13 passes. It was the fifth straight game the team has thrown for 68 or fewer yards. The futility approached the all-time record for fewest yards in an ACC game of 24 set in 2011 against Virginia.
Defensive stars shine
Georgia Tech safety A.J. Gray and linebacker Victor Alexander each had 10 tackles to lead the team.
The Yellow Jackets did not have sacks and recorded just five tackles for loss. It was their third game without a sack. Their pressure was minimal, evidenced by only two quarterback hurries.
Georgia Tech cornerback Step Durham suffered an upper body injury in the second half and did not return. He had eight tackles, six of them solo stops. He was replaced by Ajani Kerr, who played his most extended minutes of the season.
Backup quarterback Matthew Jordan entered the game at the end of the third quarter and was shaken up on the end of a run. He gained 25 yards on four carries before leaving the game and was seen hobbling around on the sidelines.
“I’m disappointed for (Jordan) because he’s worked so hard,” Johnson said. “Hopefully it’s not serious, but we’ll see.”
Linebacker Brant Mitchell and defensive end Antonio Simmons returned from injury and started. Mitchell had two tackles and Simmons had six tackles, one for loss, and forced a fumble.
Clemson inducted Cordele native Wayne “Tree” Rollins in the school’s Ring of Honor. Rollins went on to have a long career with the NBA Atlanta Hawks. … The Tigers also honored former coach Danny Ford, who was named to the College Football Hall of Fame this year. Ford led Clemson to its first national championship in 1981.