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UCF Pulls Away to Hand Jackets Home-Opening Defeat

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THE FLATS – True freshman Jahmyr Gibbs amassed 219 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns in his collegiate debut, but it wasn’t enough to overcome UCF’s high-powered offense, as Georgia Tech dropped a 49-21 decision to the 14th-ranked Knights on Saturday afternoon in the Yellow Jackets’ 2020 home opener at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Gibbs starred for the Yellow Jackets (1-1, 1-0 ACC), running for one touchdown, catching a pass for another and setting up Tech’s first score with a long return on the opening kickoff. True freshman quarterback Jeff Sims completed 18 of 36 passes for 244 yards and a TD, but threw a pair of interceptions, and the Jackets lost three fumbles for a total of five turnovers, their most in a game since they had five at Virginia on Oct. 26, 2013.

Tech racked up 471 yards of offense, 244 on the ground and 227 through the air. Sims was Tech’s leading rusher with 82 yards on 16 carries, while Gibbs picked up 66 yards on 15 attempts on the ground, and caught four passes for 60 yards.

Tech got on the board quickly on its first possession after freshman Gibbs returned the opening kickoff 75 yards to the UCF 21-yard line. The Jackets covered the distance in three plays, scoring on Sims’ 1-yard plunge. UCF (1-0, 0-0 AAC) answered immediately by traveling 75 yards on eight plays, getting the final six yards on a pass from Dillon Gabriel to Tre Nixon.

The Jackets drove deep into Knights’ territory in its next two drives, but UCF recovered a fumble and blocked a field goal attempt, leading to 21 second-quarter points. Gabriel completed 12 of 16 passes for 197 yards during the period, while the Knights converted 5-of-5 third downs in mounting touchdown drives of 80 and 90 yards. Gabriel’s 8-yard TD toss to Marlon Williams capped the first drive, and Greg McCrae finished off the second march with a 21-yard TD run. After an exchange of turnovers, UCF scored again, moving 35 yards on four plays with Gabriel hitting Nixon for the second time on a 25-yard strike and a 28-7 lead with 2:17 left in the half.

Tech closed the gap to 28-14 just before the half when Sims led the Jackets 75 yards in just 1:03, with Gibbs taking a 9-yard pass for the touchdown.

After a scoreless third quarter, Tech drove 56 yards for a touchdown, Gibbs covering the last 33 on the ground to make the score 28-21. The Knights, however, again answered quickly, moving 75 yards on six plays in just 1:32 for a 35-21 lead. Gabriel hit Williams for 40 yards for the big play in the drive, and Otis Anderson burrowed in from the 1 for the touchdown.

The duo hooked up again for a 7-yard score to cap an 8-play, 63-yard march with 5:30 left in the game, and the Knights’ converted an interception into a 20-yard TD drive to account for UCF’s final points.

Gabriel threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns, Williams and Jaylon Robinson had 154 and 105 receiving yards, respectively, and Anderson ran for 88 yards to lead the way for UCF.

Williams finished the game with 10 receptions for the Knights, whose quick-snap, no-huddle offense generated 660 yards, 243 of them on the ground.

The Yellow Jackets are back on the road next Saturday, Sept. 26, when they travel to Syracuse to face the Orange at the Carrier Dome. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. and the game will be televised regionally on the ACC’s Regional Sports Network (Fox Sports South in Georgia).

Freshman Jahmyr Gibbs celebrates one of his two touchdowns in Saturday’s game.

 

Postgame Notes

Team

  • Georgia Tech fell to 1-1 on the season with the loss to No. 14/13 UCF.
  • Georgia Tech played a nationally ranked team in its home opener for the first time since a 14-10 home loss to No. 2 Notre Dame on Sept. 2, 2006
  • The loss was Georgia Tech’s first in four all-time meetings with UCF.
  • Georgia Tech fell to 3-1 versus opponents from the state of Florida in Geoff Collins’ 14 games as head coach.
  • Georgia Tech’s seven tackles for loss were its most since it also had seven vs. North Carolina on Oct. 5, 2019.
  • Georgia Tech’s five turnovers were its most in a game since it also had five at Virginia on Oct. 26, 2013.

Individual Notes

  • On his first collegiate play, true Fr. RB Jahmyr Gibbs returned the opening kickoff 75 yards, to set up a three-play, 21-yard touchdown drive that gave Georgia Tech a 7-0 lead just 55 seconds into the game. The 75-yard kickoff return was Georgia Tech’s longest since Juanyeh Thomas returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown at Georgia on Nov. 24, 2018.
  • In the second quarter, Gibbs scored the first touchdown of his career on a 9-yard pass from fellow true Fr. Jeff Sims.
  • In the fourth quarter, Gibbs added the first rushing touchdown of his career on a 33-yard run.
  • Gibbs led Georgia Tech with four receptions, 60 receiving yards, 126 yards from scrimmage (66 rushing, 60 receiving) and 219 all-purpose yards (93 return, 66 rushing, 60 receiving) in his debut.
  • For the second-straight game, Sims led Georgia Tech with a game-high 82 rushing yards. He had a game-high 66 rushing yards in last Saturday’s 16-13 win at Florida State.
  • DB Avery Showell’s second-quarter fumble recovery was the first of his career.
  • P Pressley Harvin III’s 70-yard punt in the third quarter was the longest of his career (prev.: 62 – twice, last vs. USF on Sept. 8, 2019), the longest by a Yellow Jacket since Durant Brooks’ 77-yarder vs. North Carolina on Nov. 17, 2007 and is tied for the ninth-longest in Georgia Tech history.
Avery Showell’s second-quarter fumble recovery was the first of his career.

 

Multimedia

ACC Digital Network Highlights (Video)

ACC Digital Network Condensed Game (Video)

Postgame Press Conferences

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