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Jackets Run Past UCF in Gasparilla Bowl Win

TAMPA, Fla. – Georgia Tech roared back from an early 14-0 deficit and thoroughly dominated UCF over the final two-and-a-half quarters to win the 2023 Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl, 30-17, on Friday evening at Raymond James Stadium.

With its first bowl win since 2016, Georgia Tech (7-6) finished with a winning record for the first time since 2018. The Yellow Jackets also moved into a tie with Clemson, Nebraska and Ohio State for 10th all-time with its 26th bowl victory and moved into 11th place all-time with a .565 winning percentage in bowl games.

Things did not go Tech’s way early in the contest, as UCF raced out to leads of 14-0 and 17-3. On its first four possessions, they rolled up 243 yards en route to the 17-3 advantage.

However, the Yellow Jackets began to turn the tide midway through the second quarter, when their offense settled in on a seven-play, 74-yard drive the culminated with 5-yard touchdown run by Haynes King and pulled the Jackets within a score at 17-10.

Next, it was Tech’s defense’s turn to settle in, as it forced a three-and-out on UCF’s next possession. The Jackets followed that up with a six-play, 67-yard drive, capped by a 41-yard touchdown pass from King to Malik Rutherford and, after the horrid start, Tech sent the game into halftime knotted at 17-17.

The second half was all Georgia Tech, as the Jackets scored on three of their first four possessions after the break and blanked the Knights for the duration of the game to seal the victory. Tech outmuscled the worn-down Knights down the stretch, running the ball on 23-straight plays to end the game (not including kneel-downs). The physical domination in the run game led to a 19:30-10:30 advantage in time of possession for Tech in the second half.

Jamal Haynes led Georgia Tech’s 284-yard rushing attack with a career-high 128 yards on just 18 carries (7.1 avg.), giving him 1,059 yards for the season, good for the first 1,000-yard rushing campaign by a Yellow Jacket since 2017. King ran for 89 yards and a score on just 12 carries (7.4 avg.) and Dontae Smith added 65 yards in his final collegiate game, including a 1-yard touchdown run that capped the scoring in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, Kyle Efford led the Yellow Jackets with nine tackles and became the first freshman to lead Tech in tackles for a season since 2000. Ahmari Harvey had six tackles and a career-high three passes defended, including his third interception of the season that sealed the victory with 1:28 to go.

Jamal Haynes (11) rushed for a career-high 128 yards on the night to be named the 2023 Gasparilla Bowl Most Valuable Player (Danny Karnik photo).

 

Postgame Notes

Team Notes

  • With the win, Georgia Tech finished 7-6 on the season, good for its first winning since 2018.
  • The bowl victory was Georgia Tech’s first since its 33-18 win over Kentucky in the 2016 TaxSlayer (Gator) Bowl.
  • Georgia Tech moved into 26-20 all-time in bowl games.
  • Georgia Tech moved into a tie with Clemson, Nebraska and Ohio State for 10th all-time with 26 bowl wins.
  • Georgia Tech moved into 11th all-time with a .565 bowl winning percentage (min. 15 bowl wins).
  • The win was Georgia Tech’s third in its last four bowl games.
  • Georgia Tech trailed 14-0 just 8:34 into the game. The 14-point deficit was the largest that the Yellow Jackets have ever overcome in a bowl victory (prev.: 12-0 deficit in a 20-18 win over Tulsa in the 1944 Sugar Bowl).
  • The 14-point deficit is also tied for the fourth-largest that Georgia Tech has ever overcome in any win and the largest deficit that the Yellow Jackets have overcome since they trailed 17-0 in last season’s 21-17 win at No. 11 North Carolina (Nov. 19, 2022).
  • Georgia Tech moved to 4-3 this season when its opponent scored first.
  • Georgia Tech closed the season with wins in four of its last six games.
  • Georgia Tech moved to 4-2 all-time against UCF.
  • After UCF gained 243 yards and scored 17 points on its first four possessions, Georgia Tech held UCF scoreless and limited the Knights to 181 yards over their final seven possessions.
  • After Georgia Tech was held scoreless on its first two possessions, it scored on seven of its final nine possessions (not including kneel-downs at the end of the end of each half).
  • Georgia Tech held a 2-1 edge in turnover margin and moved to 7-2 this season when it was even or better in turnover margin.
  • The win was Georgia Tech’s second in three all-time games at Raymond James Stadium.

 

Individual Notes

  • 2023 Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl MVP Jamal Haynes (r-So. RB) ran a career-high 128 yards on just 18 carries (7.1 avg.).
  • The 100-yard rushing game was Haynes’ fourth of the season and his career.
  • Haynes finished the season with 1,059 rushing yards, good for the first 1,000-yard rushing season by a Yellow Jacket since QB Ta’Quon Marshall (1,146) and RB KirVonte Benson (1,053) both went over the 1,000-yard mark in 2017.
  • Haynes’ 1,059 rushing yards are the 15th-most in Georgia Tech single-season history.
  • r-So. QB Haynes King finished the season with 2,842 passing yards, 737 rushing yards, 27 touchdown passes and 10 touchdown runs. Since 2000, the only other ACC quarterbacks that have had at least those same numbers in a season are Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (2016 and 2017), Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans (2016) and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (2015).
  • King set a new Georgia Tech single-season record with 37 touchdowns responsible for, breaking the previous record of 35 set by Joe Hamilton in 1999.
  • King’s 2,842 passing yards are the fourth-most in Georgia Tech single-season history and the most since George Godsey’s school-record 3,085 in 2001.
  • King’s 27 touchdown passes are the second-most in Georgia Tech single-season history, behind only Hamilton’s school-record 29 in 1999.
  • King’s 3,578 yards of total offense are the second-most in Georgia Tech single-season history, behind only Hamilton’s 3,794 in 1999.
  • King’s 737 rushing yards are tied for the sixth-most by a quarterback in Georgia Tech single-season history and the most since Marshall’s 971 in 2018.
  • King’s 10 touchdown runs are tied for the sixth-most by a quarterback in Georgia Tech single-season history and the most since Tobias Oliver’s 11 in 2018.
  • r-Fr. LB Kyle Efford had a team-high nine tackles and finished the season with team-high 81 stops. Despite not entering the starting lineup until the seventh game of the season, Efford became the first freshman to lead Georgia Tech in tackles since Daryl Smith tied for the team lead with 99 tackles in 2000 and is the first freshman to lead the Yellow Jackets outright since Ricardo Wimbush in 1999 (91).
  • r-Fr. DL Horace Lockett’s forced fumble in the first quarter was the first of his career.
  • r-Sr. DB Myles Sims’ recovery of Lockett’s forced fumble was his first fumble recovery of the season and third of his career.
  • r-So. DB Ahmari Harvey’s interception in the fourth quarter was his third of the season and third of his career.
  • Harvey’s three total passes defended (2 PBU, 1 INT) were a career-high.
Haynes King (10) set the school record for most touchdowns responsible for in a single season (37) when he rushed for one TD and passed another in the 30-17 win over UCF (Danny Karnik photo).

 

Multimedia

Georgia Tech 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 for Competitive Drive Initiative Turn 2. Initially launched on Nov. 7, CDI Turn 2 has reached its initial goal of raising $2.5 million in new gifts to the Alexander-Tharpe Fund’s Athletic Scholarship Fund and has a new goal of raising $3 million in new gifts to the A-T Fund by Dec. 31. Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Foundation will match eligible gifts to accelerate the impact for Tech athletics and, 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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