Defense keys Georgia Tech in blowout win over Clemson


It wasn’t always pretty, but the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets secured a blowout victory over the Clemson Tigers on Saturday in Atlanta. Paul Johnson’s club wasn’t dominant on the offensive end of the field, as they have been for the majority of the year, but the defense was opportunistic in creating scoring opportunities, and when the dust settled at Bobby Dodd Stadium, the Jackets emerged with a 28-6 victory to improve to a sparkling 9-2 on the season.

After Georgia Tech fumbled on their opening drive, it was actually Clemson that struck first on the scoreboard with a 27-yard field goal by Ammon Lakip to take a 3-0 advantage. However, that was the final time that the Tigers would hold the lead in this game, as Clemson QB Cole Stoudt (replacing the injured Deshaun Thomas early in the game) issued an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jamal Golden to vault the Jackets to a 6-3 lead.

The remainder of the first half was wholly unexciting. Both teams struggled offensively, as Tech amassed only 117 total yards against just 111 from Clemson, and aside from a 70-yard drive that resulted in a field goal by Harrison Butker, neither team could mount much of anything offensively. That was just fine, however, as the Jackets went into the break with a 9-3 lead despite not playing particularly well offensively, and the only real “black mark” of the half was an unfortunate injury to running back Broderick Snoddy.

Then, the floodgates opened a bit, and they did so in a hurry. Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas kept the ball on the first play of the second half, sprinting for a 65-yard gain, and moments later, Thomas connected with DeAndre Smelter on a 5-yard touchdown pass to lengthen the lead to 16-3. From there, the two teams traded field goals as Clemson attempted to stay within earshot, but Clemson’s quarterback had one more “favor” to do for the Jackets.

The aforementioned Cole Stoudt issued a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown by Chris Milton, and before the game even reached the fourth quarter, it was effectively over at 25-6. At that point, Stoudt was (mercifully) removed from the game, but not before he posted a borderline comical stat line of 3-for-11 with 19 yards passing and three interceptions. Georgia Tech would tack on a field goal with 8:25 to go in the game, and the offense called off the dogs down the stretch while cruising to the final, 22-point margin.

It is undeniable that the Jackets were aided by the ineffectiveness of Stoudt, but at the same time, the defense was able to take full advantage, and the offense improved throughout the day. It isn’t often that you can achieve a blowout victory with 2 turnovers of your own and a less-than-explosive offensive performance, but when the defense picks up the slack, the path is created for success.

Prior to the season, it would have seemed like a dream that Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech would be 9-2 as they approach the annual showdown with the Georgia Bulldogs, but that is where we are. The Jackets need some real help from Duke to make a run at the ACC Coastal crown, but regardless, it has been a fun ride lately in Atlanta.