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Clemson Pulls Away Late from Tech in 2022 Opener

ATLANTA – A big underdog in its 2022 season opener against No. 4 Clemson, Georgia Tech gave the Tigers all they could handle for two-and-a-half quarters before falling, 41-10, in Monday night’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Georgia Tech (0-1, 0-1 ACC) trailed just 14-10 midway through the third quarter but Clemson (1-0, 1-0 ACC) scored on five of its final six possessions to hand the Yellow Jackets a loss that wasn’t nearly as lopsided as the final score would make it appear.

Before Clemson was able to pull away late, Tech’s defense forced five punts (including four three-and-outs) and a turnover on the Tigers’ first eight possessions. After a slow start against Clemson’s highly acclaimed defense, the Yellow Jackets’ offense hit its stride and racked up 146 yards over three series spanning the end of the first half and the beginning of the second, capped by a nine-play, 57-yard drive that culminated with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Sims to E.J. Jenkins that made it 14-10 with 9:47 to go in the third quarter.

However, miscues proved too much for Georgia Tech to overcome against the nation’s fourth-ranked team. Most notably, the Yellow Jackets had two punts blocked, which led to 5- and 15-yard touchdown drives for Clemson, as well as 10 penalties for 86 yards.

Sims led Georgia Tech offensively by completing 23-of-36 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target was Nate McCollum, who set career highs with six receptions for 55 yards. Jenkins had three catches for 34 yards to go along with his touchdown.

Defensively, defensive end Keion White, playing at full health for the first time since arriving at Georgia Tech prior to last season, was credited with two sacks. Tech linebacker Ayinde Eley led all players with 11 tackles and a fumble force and recovery, while fellow linebacker Charlie Thomas had 10 tackles before being disqualified from the game due to a targeting penalty with the Yellow Jackets trailing 14-10 in the third period.

Tech returns to action in just five days when it hosts Western Carolina at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Kickoff is set for Saturday at 7 p.m.

Postgame Notes

Team

  • Georgia Tech, which trailed just 14-10 midway through the third quarter of Monday’s game, fell to 0-1 on the season and 0-1 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. No. 4 Clemson moved to 1-0 overall and 1-0 in ACC play.
  • The loss was Georgia Tech’s 12th-straight against top-five opponents and 13th-straight against top-10 opponents.
  • Georgia Tech dropped to 50-35-2 (.586) all-time against Clemson.
  • Georgia Tech fell to 89-37-4 (.700) all-time in season openers.

Individual Notes

  • Starting in his third-consecutive season opener but seeing his first game action since Nov. 6 of last season (missed final three games of 2021 due to injury), Georgia Tech So. QB Jeff Sims completed 23-of-36 passes for 164 yards and one touchdown. He also ran 13 times for 41 yards.
  • Georgia Tech So. WR Nate McCollum set career highs with six receptions and 55 receiving yards. He surpassed his previous career highs of three receptions (2X – most recently at Virginia on 10/23/2021) and receiving yards (49 vs. Pitt on 10/2/2021) in the first half of Monday’s game.
  • Georgia Tech r-Sr. WR E.J. Jenkins’ 13-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter was only the second of his career at the NCAA Division I FBS level (prev.: 16-yarder vs. Troy, playing for South Carolina on 10/2/2021). Prior to playing at South Carolina in 2021, Jenkins played at FCS St. Francis (Pa.) from 2017-20.
  • Jenkins’ three receptions for 34 yards were also career highs at the FBS level (prev.: 2 receptions vs. Troy, 10/2/2021 and 30 yards vs. Clemson, 11/27/2021).
  • Georgia Tech r-Sr. DL Keion White had 2.0 sacks in his first extensive playing time with the Yellow Jackets (he was limited to four games due to injury in 2021, his first season at Tech after transferring from Old Dominion). White is one of only three Yellow Jackets to record two or more sacks in a game since the beginning of last season (Charlie Thomas – 2.5 and Kyle Kennard – 2.0 vs. North Carolina, 9/25/2021 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium).
  • Georgia Tech PK Jude Kelley’s 45-yard field goal in the second quarter was a career long (prev.: 32-yard game-winner at Florida State – 9/12/2020).
  • Kelley’s 45-yard field goal was also the longest by a Georgia Tech kicker since Wesley Wells’ 48-yarder vs. Virginia on Nov. 17, 2018.
  • Six Georgia Tech student-athletes made their first-career starts – RG Joe Fusile, C Weston Franklin, LT Corey Robinson II, DT Makius Scott, DE Noah Collins and NIC K.J. Wallace.
  • Four more student-athletes made their first starts at Georgia Tech – WR E.J. Jenkins, RB Dylan McDuffie, TE Luke Benson and DE Keion White.

Multimedia

Coach Collins Postgame Press Conference (Video)

Coach Collins Postgame Press Conference (Audio)

Game Highlights (ACC Digital Network)

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