Sept. 23, 2017
ATLANTA (AP) KirVonte Benson ran for a career-high 196 yards with two touchdowns, TaQuon Marshall added 112 yards rushing with two scoring runs, and Georgia Tech beat Pittsburgh 35-17 on Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for each team.
With the game tied at 7 in the second quarter, Marshall used a spin move to dodge Pittsburgh safety Damar Hamlin on an 18-yard run to the 1. Marshall scored on a keeper the next play.
Georgia Tech (2-1, 1-0) ran for 436 yards with five touchdowns.
The Yellow Jackets overcame four lost fumbles, including two by Benson. Georgia Tech’s defense allowed no points on the four turnovers.
”If it weren’t for the defense, we wouldn’t have won this game,” Marshall said. ”Let’s be real. … You can’t ask for much more.”
Georgia Tech controlled the clock, holding the ball 35 minutes, with its spread-option attack. The Panthers were successful on only 1 of 13 third-down plays.
”When you don’t move the ball against Georgia Tech, the way they hold the ball, you’re in deep, deep trouble,” said Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi.
Benson wore down the Pittsburgh defense with his 29 carries.
”We expect to run for at least 300 yards every game,” Benson said. ”That’s our goal.”
Benson lost his second fumble inside the Pittsburgh 5 midway through the fourth quarter. He had a 47-yard scoring run about two minutes later.
Pittsburgh (1-3, 0-1) made a change at quarterback, starting Ben DiNucci over senior Max Browne. DiNucci completed 12 of 19 passes for 110 yards with one touchdown. Browne took over in the fourth quarter and completed 10 of 15 passes for 89 yards.
Narduzzi said he will take a ”status quo” approach on his quarterbacks ”and find out who has the best week of practice and who gives us the best chance to win a football game.”
The Panthers’ weak running game offered no balance. Seven Pittsburgh rushers netted only 37 yards on 20 carries.
Georgia Tech held the ball almost 20 minutes in the first half. The Panthers stayed close with a few big plays, including an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown by Quadree Henderson. Henderson found a wall when he changed direction and ran left toward the Pittsburgh sideline. A devastating block by Damar Hamlin on Parker Braun helped Henderson find an open field.
Henderson’s big play tied the game at 14-all. Benson’s first touchdown run, from the 5, gave Georgia Tech the lead.
Jordan Whitehead, the strong safety returning from a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules, had a 30-yard gain on an end-around run to set up DiNucci’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Quadree Ollison.
Alex Kessman made a 55-yard field goal for Pittsburgh to end the first half.
Georgia Tech’s Quaide Weimerskirch scored on a 19-yard run in the third quarter – the longest run and first touchdown for the sophomore.
Pittsburgh: DiNucci showed promise on his first drive but for the most part looked like a first-time starter. The Panthers couldn’t generate a running attack to help the sophomore. Pittsburgh’s only run for 10 or more yards was Whitehead’s 30-yard gain on the trick play. Pittsburgh’s young defense, with only two seniors, was consistently frustrated by Georgia Tech’s option runs. Most of Benson’s yards came on power runs straight at the line.
”Our defense was just on the field too long today,” Narduzzi said.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets’ top-ranked running game showed its depth and big-play ability. The Yellow Jackets already had topped their average of 372 yards rushing before the final quarter. Perhaps more encouraging for Georgia Tech’s ACC outlook was the play of its defense. The Yellow Jackets allowed no points on four lost fumbles.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers return home to play Rice on Saturday.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets will have another home ACC game against North Carolina on Saturday at noon.
- Georgia Tech moved to 2-1 overall (1-0 ACC) while Pitt fell to 1-3 overall (0-1 ACC).
- Georgia Tech won for the sixth time in its last seven games and eighth time in its last 10 contests.
- Georgia Tech moved to 20-15 all-time in ACC openers, including an 8-2 mark in 10 seasons under head coach Paul Johnson.
- Georgia Tech snapped a two-game losing streak to Pitt.
- Georgia Tech still trails the all-time series versus Pitt, 7-5, but is 3-2 against the Panthers since Pitt joined the ACC in 2013.
- Georgia Tech extended its home winning streak to five-straight games.
- Georgia Tech BB KirVonte Benson (196) and QB TaQuon Marshall (112) both rushed for at least 100 yards for the second time in three games this season. Georgia Tech has had multiple 100-yard rushers three times in the last seven games (Nov. 12, 2016 at Virginia Tech, Sept. 4 vs. Tennessee, Saturday vs. Pitt).
- Georgia Tech scored at least 28 points for the seventh-straight game, marking only the seventh time since 1904 that it has scored 28 or more points in seven-straight games. Of the seven times Georgia Tech has accomplished the feat in the past 104 seasons, three have come in Johnson’s 10 seasons as head coach.
- Georgia Tech’s defense forced seven three-and-outs in 14 Pitt offensive series. In 38 defensive series this season, Georgia Tech has forced 19 three-and-outs.
- Georgia Tech committed four turnovers but its defense forced three-and-outs on each series that immediately followed the turnovers.
- The 80-yard punt return for touchdown by Pitt’s Quadree Henderson in the second quarter was the first allowed by Georgia Tech since Sept. 25, 2010 vs. NC State (Jarvis Williams — 1-yard return of a blocked punt). It was the first non-blocked punt that Georgia Tech allowed to be returned for a touchdown since Oct. 10, 2000 vs. Clemson (Brian Mance — 88 yards).
- The 55-yard field goal made by Pitt’s Alex Kessman was tied for the sixth-longest ever made by a Georgia Tech opponent and the longest since Pitt’s Chris Blewitt made a 56-yarder with 1:11 to go in the Yellow Jackets’ 31-28 loss to the Panthers on Oct. 17, 2015.
- Georgia Tech So. QB TaQuon Marshall, who entered the weekend leading the nation in scoring (18.0 ppg), scored two rushing touchdowns (32 and 1 yards), raising his season total to eight rushing touchdowns through just three games, which is tied for the seventh-most by a quarterback in Georgia Tech single-season history.
- Marshall and Benson both recorded their second 100-yard rushing games in the third start of their careers.
- Benson recorded career highs in rushing yards (196) and carries (29).
- Benson’s 196 rushing yards are tied for the 16th-most in Georgia Tech history and are the most by a B-back in head coach Paul Johnson’s 10 seasons as head coach (prev.: 195 – Anthony Allen vs. Virginia, Oct. 9, 2010).
- So. BB Quaide Weimerskirch’s 19-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the longest rush of his career and his first-career touchdown.
TaQuon Marshall Tight Ropes the Sidelines for a TD Run
Georgia Tech vs. Pittsburgh Highlights (ACC Digital Network)
Head Coach Paul Johnson Postgame Press Conference (Video)
Georgia Tech Student-Athletes Postgame Press Conference (Video)
Head Coach Paul Johnson Postgame Press Conference (Audio)
Georgia Tech IMG Radio Network Highlights
#PITTvsGT on Twitter
— GeorgiaTech Football (@GeorgiaTechFB) September 23, 2017
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) September 23, 2017
Walking the tight rope!
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 23, 2017