Georgia Tech wins Home Opener 35-10 over with Mercer
~ Live blog from Bobby Dodd Stadium ~

By Don Stone - Georgia Tech Express

   After a 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 program.
  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 25.
  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 didnt need him to win the game. Ive got faith in Matthew Jordan, hes been around for a couple years and the way the game was going for him running the ball, hes 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 week.
   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 over.
  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. "Weve got a lot of room to improve, weve got a lot of things to get better at and its a process. Hopefully well keep working and well get better.
  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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