ATHENS, Ga. — A record-setting 100-yard kickoff return by Juanyeh Thomas wasn’t enough for Georgia Tech in a 45-21 loss to No. 5 Georgia on Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium.
Thomas’ return pulled Georgia Tech (7-5) within a touchdown at 14-7 late in the first quarter but Georgia (11-1) scored on each of its six possessions in first half to take an insurmountable 38-7 halftime lead.
Thomas, a true freshman, set or matched five school record with the 100-yard return, including becoming the first player in Georgia Tech history to return kickoffs for touchdowns in back-to-back games (he had a 77-yard return for a score in last Saturday’s win over Virginia).
The defeat snapped Georgia Tech’s two-game winning streak at Georgia.
Despite the loss, the Yellow Jackets closed the regular season with wins in six of their last eight games and has earned a bowl berth for the 23rd time in 24 seasons. Tech will learn its postseason destination next Sunday, Dec. 2.
Georgia Tech celebrates after Juanyeh Thomas’ 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter of Saturday’s loss at No. 5 Georgia.
- Georgia Tech closed the regular season with a 7-5 overall record, marking the seventh time in Paul Johnson’s 11 seasons as head coach that the Yellow Jackets have at least seven regular-season wins (63.6 percent). In the 41 seasons prior to Johnson’s arrival on The Flats (since Bobby Dodd’s retirement following the 1966 campaign), Georgia Tech won seven or more regular-season games 15 times (36.6 percent).
- Saturday’s loss was Georgia Tech’s first at Georgia since 2012, snapping the Yellow Jackets’ two-game winning streak at Sanford Stadium and evening Johnson’s record in Athens at 3-3.
- Georgia Tech fell to 41-67-5 all-time versus Georgia and 15-31-1 against the Bulldogs in Athens.
- Georgia Tech fell to 0-11 all-time versus Georgia when the Bulldogs are ranked in the top five nationally.
- For the first time in school history, Georgia Tech returned kickoffs for touchdowns in consecutive games. Fr. Juanyeh Thomas, who returned a kickoff 77 yards for a score last Saturday vs. Virginia, returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score in the first quarter of Saturday’s game.
- Georgia Tech extended its streak of consecutive games with at least one takeaway to 12. The Yellow Jackets entered the weekend as one of 10 NCAA FBS teams with a forced turnover in every game this season.
- Georgia Tech’s 128 rushing yards were a season low (prev.: 146 vs. Clemson, Sept. 22) and its fewest since it rushed for 95 yards vs. Clemson on Sept. 22, 2016.
- Georgia Tech’s 219 yards of total offense were its second-lowest total of the season (prev. 203 vs. Clemson, Sept. 22).
- Georgia’s 447 yards of total offense were the third-most that Georgia Tech has allowed this season (prev.: 483 at Louisville, Oct. 5 and 480 vs. Clemson, Sept. 22).
- Georgia Tech Fr. Juanyeh Thomas set or matched five school records with his 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter:
- The 100-yard return is tied for the longest in school history. Thomas became the fourth Yellow Jacket to achieve the feat, joining Drew Hill (vs. Georgia, 1978) Dez White (vs. Maryland, 1998) and Jamal Golden (vs. North Carolina, 2012);
- Thomas became the third player in school history with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in a single season, joining Hill (1978) and Golden (2012);
- Thomas became the first Georgia Tech freshman with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in a single game;
- Thomas became the fifth player in school history with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in a career, joining Hill (1975-78), Gary Lee (1983-86), White (1997-99) and Golden (2011-15);
- Thomas became the first player in school history to return kickoffs for touchdowns in consecutive games (he returned a free kick – statistically considered a kickoff – 77 yards for a score last Saturday vs. Virginia).
- For the fourth-straight game, Georgia Tech Sr. OLB Jalen Johnson matched a career-high nine tackles.
- Georgia Tech Fr. QB James Graham had the first pass completion of his career when he completed a 22-yard pass to Sr. QB TaQuon Marshall in the fourth quarter. The reception was Marshall’s first since he caught three passes as a freshman A-back in 2015.
TaQuon Marshall threw for 69 yards and a touchdown, ran for 39 yards and even had a 22-yard reception on Saturday against Georgia.
ACC Digital Network Highlights (Video)
Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson Postgame Press Conference (Audio)