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Jackets Fall to Panthers

THE FLATS – Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims threw for 359 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but Pittsburgh capitalized on a pair of early turnovers to gain the upper hand and handed the Yellow Jackets a 52-21 defeat on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The Yellow Jackets fell to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the ACC with the loss, while the Panthers got a win in their first conference game of 2021 and improved to 4-1 overall.

Sims’ 359 passing yards were the most by a Georgia Tech quarterback in 20 years, dating back to George Godsey throwing for 486 against Virginia on Nov. 10, 2001. Tech’s 359 passing yards as a team were its most in a decade, dating back to its 365 yards through the air against Western Carolina on Sept. 1, 2011.

Despite Sims’ aerial efforts, Georgia Tech could not overcome two interceptions on its first two possessions, converting just three of its 15 third- and fourth-down attempts or scoring on just two of its four red-zone trips.

The Yellow Jackets dug themselves an early hole when Pitt’s defense intercepted Sims on the Jackets’ first two possessions, the first on a ball tipped at the line of scrimmage and the second when Sims was hit as he was throwing. Pitt needed just seven plays after the first INT to move 48 yards and make it 7-0, then returned the second 33 yards for a touchdown to take a 14-0 lead less than six minutes into the game.

Tech responded with a five-play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown, capped by Sims finding Nate McCollum for a 44-yard touchdown to make it 14-7 barely midway through the opening period, and it appeared as though a shootout was in the making.

However, the combination of Pitt’s prolific offense and the Yellow Jackets’ miscues made it impossible for the Jackets to keep pace and the Panthers took a commanding 42-14 halftime lead.

Sims’ impressive performance and a career-high 125 receiving yards by running back Jahmyr Gibbs were bright spots for the Jackets, who racked up a season-best 432 yards in the defeat.

Pitt’s offense, which came into the game ranked No. 2 nationally in scoring (52.5 ppg) and No. 6 in total offense (548.0 ypg), was as good as advertised. Quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for 389 yards, with receivers Jordan Addison and Taysir Mack each gaining over 100, and the Panthers also had 181 yards on the ground.

The Yellow Jackets hit the road next Saturday for another ACC Coastal Division duel, a 12:30 p.m. matchup against Duke at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C. The game will be televised on the ACC’s Regional Sports Network, including Bally Sports South in Georgia.

Jahmyr Gibbs had a career-high 125 receiving yards on six catches on Saturday versus Pitt (Photo: Danny Karnik).

 

Postgame Notes

Team

  • Georgia Tech fell to 2-3 overall (1-2 ACC). Pitt moved to 4-1 overall (1-0 ACC).
  • Georgia Tech’s 359 passing yards were its most in a game since it threw for 365 yards vs. Western Carolina on Sept. 1, 2011.
  • For the first time this season, Georgia Tech surrendered points off turnovers, as Pitt scored 14 points off two GT turnovers.
  • Saturday’s game also marked only the second time in five games this season that Georgia Tech did not score any points off its opponent’s turnovers (prev.: Sept. 18 at Clemson).
  • Through its first four games, Georgia Tech had outscored its opponents 38-0 in points off turnovers. On Saturday, Pitt outscored GT, 14-0, in points off turnovers.
  • Georgia Tech, which had converted 42% of its third- and fourth-down attempts this season, was 3-for-15 on third and fourth downs on Saturday (2-for-11 on third down, 1-for-4 on fourth down).
  • Georgia Tech’s 71-yard pass from QB Jeff Sims to RB Jahmyr Gibbs in the second quarter was the Yellow Jackets’ longest play from scrimmage of the season (prev.: 53-yard pass from QB Jordan Yates to WR Malachi Carter, Sept. 4 vs. Northern Illinois).
  • Saturday’s loss marked the ninth-straight time that Georgia Tech has followed a win with a loss.
  • Georgia Tech fell to 5-11 all-time vs. Pitt. The loss was Georgia Tech’s fourth-straight to Pitt.

Individual Notes

  • Georgia Tech QB Jeff Sims’ had a career-high 359 passing yards (prev.: 277 at Florida State – Sept. 12, 2020).
  • Sims’ 359 passing yards were the most by a Georgia Tech quarterback since George Godsey threw for 486 yards vs. Virginia on Nov. 10, 2001.
  • Sims became the first Georgia Tech quarterback to throw for 300 yards in a game since Oct. 6, 2007 (Taylor Bennett vs. Maryland).
  • Georgia Tech RB Jahmyr Gibbs had a career-high 125 receiving yards (prev.: 60, 2X – last vs. Louisville, Oct. 9, 2020).
  • Gibbs’ 71-yard reception in the second quarter was the longest play from scrimmage of his career (prev.: 61-yard rush vs. Duke – Nov. 28, 2020). His previous career-long reception was a 42-yard reception, also vs. Duke on Nov. 28, 2020.
  • Georgia Tech WR Nate McCollum scored the first touchdown of his career on a 41-yard reception from QB Jeff Sims in the first quarter.
  • McCollum’s 49 receiving yards were a career high (prev.: 16 – last Saturday vs. North Carolina).
  • McCollum and LG Paula Viapulu both made their first-career starts for Georgia Tech.
  • Georgia Tech true Fr. WR Malik Rutherford had the first receptions of his career, catching 5 passes for 62 yards.
Nate McCollum hauled in a 44-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Sims for his first-career score on Saturday against Pitt (Photo: Danny Karnik).

 

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