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Jackets Are Going Bowling!

THE FLATS – Quarterback Haynes King threw for two touchdowns and ran for another that sealed Georgia Tech’s postseason-clinching sixth victory of the season, a 31-22 triumph over Syracuse on Saturday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field.

Georgia Tech (6-5) became eligible to play in a bowl game for the first time since the 2018 season on a night when Tech celebrated the 25th anniversary of its 1998 team that won a share of the ACC championship and defeated Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl to finish 10-2. This year’s Yellow Jackets completed their conference schedule at 5-3 (its first winning ACC record since ’18) and can finish as high as a tie for third place depending on the results of next week’s games.

King led the Jackets to the postseason with an ultra-efficient evening, completing a season-best 80% of his passes (16-of-20) for 138 yards and two touchdowns, and running for a team-high-tying 82 yards on 11 carries (7.5 avg.) and a score.

King set the tone on the first series of the game, accounting for 67 yards (53 passing, 14 rushing) on a 75-yard touchdown drive that gave the Yellow Jackets a 7-0 lead. He was a perfect 5-of-5 passing on the opening possession and capped the 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 15-yard scoring toss to Jamal Haynes to give the Jackets a lead they would not relinquish.

King’s second touchdown pass came midway through the second period when he connected with Dominick Blaylock on a 53-yard scoring toss to give Tech a 14-3 lead.

After taking a 17-3 lead into halftime thanks to a 22-yard field goal by Aidan Burr with 13 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Georgia Tech appeared to take full control of the game when Paul Moala forced a fumble that was recovered by Jacob Cruz on the opening kickoff of the second half. One play later, Haynes burst through a huge hole a ran 30 yards untouched to paydirt to extend the Jackets’ advantage to 24-3 just 17 seconds into the third quarter.

However, Syracuse would not roll over, as it scored three touchdowns on its next five possessions and pulled within 24-22 with 7:41 left in the game. A pass breakup by Clayton Powell-Lee on a two-point conversion attempt following the Orange’s third touchdown of the second-half rally kept the Jackets’ lead intact.

Needing a long drive to seal the win on their next possession, King guided the Jackets to just that – a nine-play, 75-yard masterpiece that ran 5:19 off the game clock and culminated with the redshirt-sophomore signal-caller scoring on a 19-yard run that gave Tech a commanding 31-22 lead with 2:22 to go.

Redshirt-freshman linebacker Kyle Efford, who led all players with a career-high 11 tackles, ended any chance of a Syracuse comeback with his first-career interception at the Orange 31-yard line with 2:18 to go, setting off a raucous celebration on the Yellow Jackets’ sideline and in the stands as Tech ran out the clock.

LeQuint Allen had 120 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries and Dan Villari – a tight end forced into action at quarterback due to an injury to starting signal-caller Garrett Shrader – completed 14-for-14 passing for 59 yards to lead Syracuse (5-6, 1-6 ACC), who can clinch a bowl berth of its own with a home win over Wake Forest next Saturday.

Georgia Tech closes the regular season next Saturday versus archrival and No. 1-ranked Georgia at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field. The 117th edition of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ABC. A limited number of tickets remain and can be purchased HERE.

Jamal Haynes celebrates after the first of his two touchdowns in Georgia Tech’s postseason-clinching 31-22 win over Syracuse (Danny Karnik photo).

 

Postgame Notes

Team Notes

  • Georgia Tech moved to 6-5 overall and 5-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
  • Georgia Tech secured bowl eligibility for the first time since 2018.
  • Georgia Tech finished above .500 in ACC play for the first time since 2018.
  • The win was Georgia Tech’s third in its last four games, which marks the first time that Tech has had three wins in a four-game stretch since it went 3-1 in its final four games of the 2018 regular season.
  • Georgia Tech moved to 4-1 all-time against Syracuse, 2-1 against the Orange in ACC play and 2-0 against SU at home.
  • Georgia Tech has won consecutive home games for the first time since victories over Kennesaw State (45-17) and North Carolina (45-22 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium) on Sept. 11 and Sept. 25, 2021 and its first back-to-back wins at Bobby Dodd Stadium since victories over Miami (Fla.) (27-21) and Virginia (30-27 in OT) on Nov. 10 and 17, 2018.
  • Syracuse’s 259 yards of offense were the fewest surrendered by Georgia Tech this season (prev.: 291 vs. South Carolina State, Sept. 9; prev. vs. FBS opponent: 351 vs. Virginia, Nov. 4).
  • Syracuse’s 94 yards in the first half were the fewest that Georgia Tech has allowed in a first half this season (prev.: 127 vs. South Carolina State, Sept. 9; prev. vs. FBS opponent: 172 vs. Louisville, Sept. 1)
  • For the first time this season, Georgia Tech started three linebackers on defense (Kyle Efford, Paul Moala and Braelen Oliver).

Individual Notes

  • One week after compiling his lowest completion percentage of the season (13-for-31 – 41.9%), r-So. QB Haynes King completed 16-of-20 passes for an 80.0% completion percentage, his highest of the season (prev.: 23-for-30 – 76.7% vs. North Carolina, Oct. 28 and at Virginia, Nov. 4).
  • Georgia Tech r-So. RB Jamal Haynes scored two touchdowns in a game for the first time in his career (15-yard reception in the first quarter, 30-yard rush in the third quarter).
  • Haynes’ touchdown reception was the first of his career.
  • Haynes’ eight touchdowns this season are the most by a Yellow Jacket since QB Tobias Oliver scored 12 in 2018 and the most by a Georgia Tech RB since Dedrick Mills scored 13 in 2016.
  • Georgia Tech r-Jr. WR Dominick Blaylock’s 53-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was his longest catch as a Yellow Jacket (prev.: 34 at Miami (Fla.), Oct. 7) and the second-longest of his collegiate career, behind only a 60-yard reception vs. Arkansas State as a true freshman at Georgia in 2019.
  • Georgia Tech r-Fr. LB Kyle Efford’s 11 tackles were a career high (prev.: 10 at Virginia, Nov. 4).
  • Georgia Tech r-Sr. LB Paul Moala’s two forced fumbles matched a single-game school record, which had been accomplished 14 times previously, most recently by Jordan Domineck vs. Kennesaw State on Sept. 11, 2021.
  • Moala’s 8 tackles were a season high (prev.: 7 – 3X, most recently at Clemson, Nov. 11).
  • Georgia Tech r-Sr. LB Braelen Oliver made his first start as a Yellow Jacket in the three-LB formation. Oliver previously made 17 starts in five seasons at Minnesota (2018-22).
  • Oliver’s 4 tackles for loss were a season high (prev.: 1.0 at Clemson, Nov. 11).
  • Georgia Tech Fr. LB Jacob Cruz’s fumble recovery on the opening kickoff of the second half was the first of his career.
Kyle Efford (44) recorded a career-high 11 tackles, including a crucial fourth-down stop, and his first-career interception, which sealed the Yellow Jackets’ 31-22 win and first bowl berth since 2018 (Danny Karnik photo).

 

Multimedia

Head Coach Brent Key Postgame Press Conference (Audio)

Coach Key Postgame Press Conference (Video)

Student-Athletes Postgame Press Conference (Video)

Game Highlights (ACC Digital Network)

Condensed Game (ACC Digital Network)

Around Social Media

Competitive Drive Initiative Turn 2

Looking to build on the success of last year’s Competitive Drive Initiative, Georgia Tech, the Georgia Tech Foundation and Georgia Tech athletics are partnering once again to launch Competitive Drive Initiative Turn 2. CDI Turn 2 has a goal of raising $2.5 million in new gifts to the Alexander-Tharpe Fund’s Athletic Scholarship Fund by Dec. 31, and Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Foundation will match eligible gifts to accelerate the impact for Tech athletics. Like last year, not only will gifts to CDI Turn 2 be matched, but so will the contributor’s benefits in the way of A-T Fund giving levels and priority points. To learn more and contribute online, visit atfund.org/turn2.

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