ATLANTA – Georgia Tech matched a school-record with four touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 15-point halftime lead, but Louisville rallied for 26-straight second-half points to overtake the Yellow Jackets and claim a 39-34 victory in the Aflac Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The game was the season opener for both teams.
Georgia Tech trailed 6-0 after one quarter but exploded for 28 points in the second half — its four touchdowns matching the most it has ever scored in a single period against an NCAA Division I FBS opponent and its 28 points being the most it scored in a quarter since 2015 — to take a commanding 28-13 halftime lead.
The Yellow Jackets rolled up 282 yards of offense and scored its four touchdowns on four-straight possessions during the dominant second quarter.
In his first game at Georgia Tech, quarterback Haynes King moved the Yellow Jackets 75 yards in nine plays for the first touchdown, tossing a 2-yard pass to tight end Brett Seither for the score. Gavin Stewart’s PAT gave the Jackets their first lead at 7-6. Tech extended its lead to 14-6 on its next possession, covering 72 yards in just four plays. King hooked up with Malik Rutherford for 55 yards, and running back Trey Cooley scored the TD from a yard out.
After Louisville closed the gap to 14-13, Tech drove 75 yards on five plays, with Cooley scoring his second TD on a 23-yard jaunt to extend the lead to 21-13. The Yellow Jackets added their fourth score on a 48-yard strike from King to Chase Lane with 1:12 left in the half and, even after missing a 54-yard field goal attempt as time expired in the opening half, took a commanding 15-point lead into the locker room.
Louisville turned the tables in the third period, outgaining the Yellow Jackets, 134-20 (Tech ran just nine offensive plays), and adding a field goal and a touchdown to pull within 28-23 after three quarters.
The Yellow Jackets’ offense marched into the red zone three times in the fourth quarter, but missed a 33-yard field goal with 11:06 to go while holding a 28-23 lead, and then, after Louisville had gone ahead 29-28, the Jackets lost a fumble inside the 20 with 3:53 to play.
Louisville stretched the lead to 36-28 on the first play after the lost fumble, a 74-yard run by Jawhar Jordan, then added a 38-yard field goal from Brock Travelstead for a 39-28 margin with 2:37 to go. Tech made a last-ditch rally with a 65-yard touchdown drive, scoring on a 5-yard pass from King to Eric Rutherford, Jr. with 1:07 remaining. But the Jackets two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful and Louisville recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal its victory.
In his first start for Tech since transferring from Texas A&M, King threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns, completing 19-of-32 passes, and led the Jackets on the ground with 53 yards on 10 carries. Cooley, a transfer from Louisville playing against his former school in his first game as a Yellow Jacket, scored two touchdowns for Tech and rushed for 52 yards on nine attempts. Rutherford caught five passes for 85 yards to lead the Yellow Jackets receiving corps.
QB Jack Plummer completed 18-of-31 passes for 247 yards and three scores for the Cardinals, while Jamari Thrash caught seven of those throws for a game-high 88 yards and two touchdowns. Travelstead kicked three field goals.
Tech returns to campus next Saturday, Sept. 9, with a 1 p.m. kickoff against South Carolina State at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field. The game will be live streamed on ACC Network Extra.
Trey Cooley scored two touchdowns in his debut with the Yellow Jackets. (photo: Danny Karnik)
- Georgia Tech lost its season opener for the third-straight season and fell to 89-38-4 all-time in season openers (.695).
- Georgia Tech lost to Louisville for the first time in series history (2-1).
- Georgia Tech fell to 0-3 all-time in the Aflac Kickoff Game (L, 42-41 in 2OT vs. Tennessee – 2017; L, 41-10 vs. Clemson – 2022).
- Georgia Tech fell to 5-5 all-time when opening its season with an ACC game.
- Georgia Tech led 28-13 at halftime. The 15-point lead is tied for the ninth-largest that it has ever surrendered in a loss, and the largest since it also surrendered a 28-13 lead in a 40-36 loss at Virginia on Nov. 4, 2017.
- Georgia Tech’s 34 points were its most in a game since a 35-17 win over Western Carolina on Sept. 10 of last season and its most against an NCAA Division I FBS opponent since a 48-40 loss at Virginia on Oct. 23, 2021.
- Georgia Tech’s 28 points in the second quarter were its most in a quarter since it scored 35 points in the first quarter vs. Alcorn State on Sept. 3, 2015 (W, 69-6).
- Georgia Tech’s 28 points in the second quarter were its most in a quarter against an NCAA Division I FBS opponent since it scored 28 in the first quarter at Pitt on Oct. 25, 2014 (W, 56-28).
- Georgia Tech’s 28 points in the second quarter are tied for its fifth-most ever in a quarter.
- Georgia Tech’s 28 points in the second quarter are tied for its third-most ever in a quarter against an FBS opponent.
- Georgia Tech’s four touchdowns in the second quarter are tied for its second-most ever in a quarter and tied for its most ever in a quarter against an FBS opponent.
- Georgia Tech held Louisville to just 1-of-11 on third-down conversion attempts, which was the first time since Sept. 23, 2017 that a Georgia Tech opponent converted on just one third down (Pitt – 1-of-13 in a 35-17 GT win).
- Two Georgia Tech players made their first collegiate starts – r-So. CB Ahmari Harvey and Jr. DT Zeek Biggers.
- Three more Georgia Tech players made their first starts at Georgia Tech – r-So. QB Haynes King (transfer from Texas A&M), r-Jr. WR Dominick Blaylock (Georgia), r-Sr. LB Paul Moala (Idaho/Notre Dame).
- All five of Georgia Tech’s touchdowns were scored by players playing in their first game at Georgia Tech – Jr. RB Trey Cooley (2 – transfer from Louisville), r-Jr. TE Brett Seither (Georgia), r-Jr. WR Chase Lane (Texas A&M), Fr. WR Eric Singleton, Jr.
Chase Lane celebrates his 48-yard touchdown catch in the second period. (photo: Danny Karnik)
Postgame Press Conference (Coach Key, Haynes King, Trey Cooley, Jaylon King)
Game Highlights (ACC Digital Network)
Condensed Game (ACC Digital Network)
Around Social Media
— Georgia Tech Football (@GeorgiaTechFB) September 2, 2023
— Aflac Kickoff Game (@AflacKickoff) September 2, 2023
The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Georgia Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of developing Georgia Tech’s Everyday Champions and helping the Yellow Jackets compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes. To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.