Sept. 26, 2009
ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets didn’t like falling out of the Top 25 with their first loss, so they made a point with a lopsided victory against another ranked opponent.
Josh Nesbitt ran for two touchdowns and Georgia Tech held the ball for 42 minutes, its highest total in 13 years, to beat No. 22 North Carolina 24-7 on Saturday.
Georgia Tech was ranked No. 14 before its 33-17 loss at Miami last week.
“I think a lot of people had written us off,” said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, who made sure his players heard the message.
“Seeing it all week, we took the challenge to step forward as a defense and as a team,” said safety Morgan Burnett, who had two interceptions.
“Everyone came in determined and it showed throughout the day.”
Georgia Tech (3-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) opened in a 4-3 scheme instead of the 4-2-5 it ran last week. The third linebacker helped; the Yellow Jackets held North Carolina (3-1, 0-1) to 154 yards on only 44 plays.
“Terrible,” North Carolina coach Butch Davis said. “We just didn’t do a very good job. … We’ve got to take a long look at ourselves.”
Georgia Tech held the ball for 42 minutes, 6 seconds–its best mark since a 1996 win over Wake Forest.
“It’s really embarrassing,” said North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates, who 11 of 26 for 137 yards with two interceptions. He missed a shotgun snap for another turnover.
“I was a little off. I never got into a rhythm.”
Jonathan Dwyer ran for 158 yards in his first 100-yard game of the season. He showed no sign of the shoulder injury that limited him to five carries for 7 yards against Miami.
Nesbitt added a career-high 32 carries for 97 yards. Georgia Tech had 317 yards rushing in its spread-option offense while holding North Carolina to 17.
North Carolina’s only touchdown came on Yates’ 40-yard pass to Erik Highsmith early in the fourth quarter.
Georgia Tech then put the game away with a 17-play, 76-yard touchdown drive, capped by Nesbitt’s 10-yard run. The drive lasted 8:15.
“It was huge,” Johnson said. “We played really good on defense and they hit us with a really big play and we responded. We came back and converted some third downs and basically put the game out of reach with the clock.”
Burnett’s second interception ended North Carolina’s final drive with 1:34 remaining.
Georgia Tech did not commit a turnover. It was a reversal from last year, when North Carolina won 28-7 in Chapel Hill as the Yellow Jackets were hurt by two lost fumbles, an interception, two missed field goals and two failed fourth-down conversions.
“I was very surprised in Tech’s execution, compared to last year,” Yates said. “They shut us down in every aspect of our offense.”
Nesbitt was 7-for-17 for 89 yards.
Roddy Jones had a 13-yard touchdown run to cap Georgia Tech’s opening drive.
Georgia Tech extended its lead after a Tar Heels turnover. Yates lined up in the shotgun but wasn’t looking for the snap when the ball shot past him. Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan recovered the fumble at the North Carolina 32, setting up Scott Blair’s 34-yard field goal for a 10-0 halftime lead.
The kickers combined to miss three field goals of under 40 yards. North Carolina’s Casey Barth was wide right on a 32-yard attempt. Blair missed tries of 37 yards in the first quarter and 27 yards in the third quarter.
There was light rain in the second half. Fans were cautioned of lightning in the area at the start of the fourth quarter and told they could re-enter the stadium if they chose to leave. Most fans remained until the rain became heavy in the final minutes.