Don Stone - Georgia Tech Express
successful Season Opener trip to Dublin, Ireland with a last minute
touchdown to shock Boston College, Georgia Tech returns for their home
opener against Mercer. The Bears are only in their fourth season after
reviving their program from . It marks the first time Mercer has faced a
Power 5 program. The two teams first met back in 1892 with the remainder of
the 17 meetings ending in 1938 shortly before they closed their football
Head coach Paul Johnson was not very happy with his team's performance
last weekend vowing changes in his on field personnel.
"We've got one starter this week, and that's Searcy," Johnson said at his
Wednesday press conference. "The rest of those guys, we'll see. It could be
any of those guys."
"It's about who we want to be," Johnson said. "If we want to be dead
average, that's the way we played last Saturday -- at best. If we want to be
good, we better get to work, play better and play harder. We've got to be
more physical. We've got to have more accountability."
Mercer anticipated around 5000 making their way to Bobby Dodd Stadium
with the short drive from Macon and a satellite campus in Atlanta. Scores of
alum also live in the metro Atlanta area. Attendance was 49,992.
Tech got the ball first and began methodically moving downfield with
Que Searcy starting off with a run to the 36. Justin Thomas
quickly hit Ricky Jeune for nine. A toss left to Marcus Marshall
got them a first down at midfield. Clinton Lynch added six more
to the MB44. Marshall took it to the 38 for another first down. But the
promising drive came to a grinding halt when Marshall coughed it up at the
Mercer took over with a quick 12 yard pass to Sam Walker to the
37. A completion to Marquise Irvin brought up a third and two at the
45. Walker got what they needed and more into Tech territory at the GT43. On
a third and eight Russ high Avery Ward who went out of bounds at the
32. QB John Russ scrambled and found a wide open Ward who sprinted
into the end zone for an early 7-0 lead. The drive went nine plays and
seventy five yard.
Both teams had moved the ball but the visitors held on to theirs. Tech
began their second drive at the 35. Thomas began with a nice 12 yard pass to
Searcy. He kept the next play and took it 8 to the MB45. After a second and
six run, Mercer committed an unnecessary roughness penalty advancing the
ball to the 20. Planning a pass, Thomas could find no one open as the
offense drew an illegal block in the back call to make it first and 20 at
the 30. Thomas got half of it back with a completion of 11 to Mikell
Lands-Davis. Thomas scrambled but, again could find no one open as he
moved it six yards to the 13, bringing up a manageable third and three. RT
Trey Klock was helped off the field. Faking a toss, Thomas took it
the rest of the way to tie the game at 7.
Mercer's turn for their second drive at the 25. Stephen Houzah
caught a short pass for four. A third and three converted with a six yarder
to Irvin at the 38. Russ could find no one to throw it to and ran out at the
43 forcing a bouncing punt into the end zone.
The Yellow Jackets took over at their 20 Thomas saw a hole up the middle
and rambled for 31 yards as the first quarter came to an end. GT had a 50%
lead in total yards, 143 to 93. But the turnover nullified that advantage.
Thomas made something out of nothing to pick up five for a third and one
at the 29. Of course, Johnson went for it with a four yard handoff to
Marshall converting. On a third and eight, Jeune brought one down for a 17
yard gain at the six for a first and goal. Matthew Jordan took it in
untouched for the Jackets' first lead, 14-7. Eleven plays and 81 yards in
just over four minutes
Another touchback had the Bears starting at the 25. But Mercer had the
game's first three and out with Brad Stewart taking the 50 yard punt
to the 36.
A dropped toss Searcy lost seven resulting in Tech's first punt. Johnson
had strongly critiqued Tech's kicking game last week and said they didn't
have a punter and that the job was up for grabs. Grant Aasen didn't
help his chances as he shanked it for only 32 yards giving the Bears the
ball at their 30. A third and seven was converted with a 9 yard catch by
Irvin at the 42. Russ kept it for another 9 and another first at the GT48.
But the Tech defense stiffened to end the drive at their 42. Stewart fair
caught the punt at the nine with 2:55 to go in the half.
No problem with field position as Searcy took a toss to the right and
brought it out to the 40 for a 31 yard gain. Next it was Lynch to the left
for 16 more to the MB40. Continuing his increasing air attack, Thomas went
to Jeune who pulled it down at the 10. Marshall had it in the end zone on
the next play for a two TD lead, 21-7. An efficient five plays and 91 yard
drive taking just 1:38.
With the clock running out in the half, Mercer got the ball to the FT38
but ran out of time.
The stat that stood out the most for me was the number of times the ball
was in the air. GT had five pass attempts for 80 yards. Doesn't sound like a
lot except that Tech normally wouldn't throw that many times in two games.
Mercer started the second half off at their 25. They got a first down at
the 43 after a 16 yard catch by Alex Lakes. The Bears decided to go
for it on fourth and one at the GT48 and it worked with a short toss to
Houzah to the 46. A nine yard catch by Irvin made it third and one. Maybe
four down territory. But, no worry as Lakes dove for the first to the 39.
The Bears continued moving forward with another nine yard catch by Payton
Usher to the 25. A Patrick Gamble sack pushed it back to a third
and five at the 29. Mercer head coach Bobby Lamb called his second
time out. His call paid off with Russ keeping the ball for first at the
GT20. Usher made an impressive one handed reach just off the ground, then
scrambled for seven. A false start undid the heroics to bring up a third and
8 at the 18. They came up short with the 17 play 61 yard drive resulting in
a Cole Fisher 31 yard field goal making it Tech 21, Mercer 10.
It ended a streak of 21 unanswered points by the Jackets.
Tech started their next drive at their 22. Johnson put Matthew
Jordan came in at QB going three and out. Johnson seemed really steamed at LT
Andrew Marshall as he was coming off the field.
“He (Thomas) was dinged a little bit but he could have played, the coach
said after the game. "We didn’t need him to win the game. I’ve got faith in
Matthew Jordan, he’s been around for a couple years and the way the game was
going for him running the ball, he’s a downhill runner, I knew he would go
in there and run the ball hard.”
But Tech faked a punt
with Chase Alford barreling for 21 to the MB48. Just the second carry
of his career. Jonathan Ward was banged up on the play for the Bears.
Searcy eluded tackles and spun for a first down to the 37. Jordan remained
in at QB. This time, Jordan was helped when the defense jumped off side
giving them a first down at the 25. A toss to Searcy and the AB took off for
17 to the 8. Lynch carried it for six. Jordan kept it for his second TD, GT
28, Mercer 10.
"Once I settled down and once the team played everything was fine, we did
pretty well," said Jordan. "I mean, I think we did better than we did last
A 29 yard pass to Irvin picked up a first down at the 46 as the
third quarter came to an end. Walker caught a pass for nine but had to be
helped off the field. Russ kept it to get the first down at the GT 45. Even
more when Avery Ward was wide open for a 25 yard gain. The drive stalled
with Fisher coming in to draw three points closer but Tech blocked the kick
keeping at 28-10.
Johnson began giving backups a lot of playing time with Lynn Griffin
rushing for 8. Marshall grabbed a first down. Then Jordan carried it twice
for another first down. Searcy, last week's player of the game, was vying
for back to back honors as he ripped off a 24 yarder to the 7. But
Weimerskirch fumbled on his first ever carry at the two yard line. Drive
The defense held the Bears to a three and out. A 43 yard punt was
returned to the MB38. TaQuon Marshall, who was converted from A-Back
to quarterback came in and handed off to Nate Cottrell, who got six
yards. Austin McClellan picked up the first with a 5 yard carry to
the MB16. QB Marshall took it the remaining 11 yards for another score to
make it 35-10.
Showing the white flag, Michael Haynes came in at QB and rushed
for 8 yards for a first down at the MB39. Haynes hit Kelby Brock for
10 and another first. They made it as far as the GT38 before the game ended.
“I would hope that we would have played better but we won 35-10, said
Johnson. "We’ve got a lot of room to improve, we’ve got a lot of things to
get better at and it’s a process. Hopefully we’ll keep working and we’ll get
With the win, Georgia Tech moved to 2-0 for the fourth-straight season
and seventh time in nine seasons under head coach Paul Johnson. Tech won its
home opener for the 10th-straight year and 17th time in the last 18 years.
The Yellow Jackets moved to 93-25-4 all-time in home openers.
One week after setting a career high with 60 receiving yards against
Boston College, sophomore A-back Qua Searcy set a career high with 91
rushing yards on 7 carries (13.0 avg.).
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