Sept. 17, 2011
ATLANTA (AP) – For Georgia Tech, it felt like a video game.
The option offense was working to perfection Saturday, and Kansas couldn’t find the off switch.
Led by Orwin Smith, who had more than 100 yards rushing and receiving, the Yellow Jackets piled up a school-record 768 yards in a 66-24 rout of the Jayhawks.
Georgia Tech (3-0) also set a school mark with 604 yards rushing and played with a passion and focus that was missing a year ago in an mistake-plagued loss to Kansas.
“When we’re making our blocks, it’s like a video game,” said Embry Peeples, who had a 63-yard touchdown run to spark a 42-point second half. “It’s score after score after score.”
The Yellow Jackets ran at will and mixed in three long passes against Kansas (2-1), which looked as though it had never seen the option offense.
“It’s a bad position to be in when you can’t adjust out of it,” said Vic Shealy, the Kansas defensive coordinator. “You can’t slow it down, and it snowballs on you.”
Georgia Tech avenged a 28-25 upset by the Jayhawks last season, a bitter defeat that sent the Yellow Jackets spiraling to a losing season.
“We wanted to show them that last year was a fluke game,” Peeples said. “The fun that they had was not going to be had today.”
Georgia Tech also set a school record with 604 yards on the ground in its highest-scoring game since a 69-14 win over Samford in 2007. Roddy Jones also scored running and receiving, while David Sims had a pair of rushing TDs.
Losing its 10th straight road game, Kansas gave up three one-play scoring drives to the Yellow Jackets, including their first offensive snap of each half.
Completing befuddling the Jayhawks with fakes, pitches and guys darting in all different directions, Georgia Tech averaged 12.1 yards each time they ran the ball. That broke the NCAA record, an 11.9-yard performance in 1973 by one of Bear Bryant’s powerhouse Alabama teams against Virginia Tech.
Smith needed only five carries to put up 157 yards. Peeples added 110 yards on five carries.
Smith set the tone on Georgia Tech’s first offensive play, breaking off a 95-yard touchdown for yet another record–longest run in school history. He swept through a huge hole, then picked up key blocks downfield from receivers Stephen Hill and Tyler Melton.
“Our offense is based on the perimeter,” Smith said. “If we’re getting blocks on the perimeter, we’re going to have a big game.”
Tevin Washington had another efficient day at quarterback, completing 4 of 7 for 164 yards. He connected with Smith on a 67-yard touchdown and hooked up with Jones on a 52-yarder. Washington also completed a 41-yard pass to Smith that came up short of the end zone, giving the junior A-back 108 yards on his two receptions.
Georgia Tech had gone seven years since its last player, Calvin Johnson, had rushing and receiving touchdowns in the same game. Both Smith and Jones did it against the Jayhawks.
Smith also was the first Yellow Jackets player since at least 1978 to account for more than 100 yards on the ground and through the air. The school wasn’t able to immediately determine if anyone did it before that.
Kansas kicked a field goal on the last play of the first half and actually went to the locker room only down 24-17. It was all Georgia Tech after that.
Peeples took off from the 37 on the opening play of the third quarter, was barely touched on his way to the end zone and the rout was on.
The Yellow Jackets were perfect–six possessions, six touchdowns–before running out the clock the final time they got the ball. They finished with their highest-scoring second half since putting up 96 over the final two periods of their famous 222-0 victory over Cumberland in 1916.
Georgia Tech broke the school record of 558 yards rushing against VMI in 1975, and the 706-yard mark for total yards set in 1948 against Citadel. The Yellow Jackets had 10 plays of at least 21 yards–and three that went for more than 50.
“We were spreading the love,” Washington said. “When everybody’s touching the ball, everybody’s happy.”
Especially when they have huge holes to run through. Numerous times, a Georgia Tech runner would burst past the line of scrimmage–every defender tied up by a blocker–and find a clear path to the end zone. It wasn’t farfetched to say the Yellow Jackets appeared to have extra players on the field.
Now, after averaging 59 points per game, they are off to their first 3-0 start since 2005 heading into Atlantic Coast Conference play.
“A lot of big plays,” coach Paul Johnson said. “It was fun. Especially after last year, it was fun.”
Darrian Miller scored a pair of rushing touchdowns for the Jayhawks, but that wasn’t nearly enough. Kansas moved the ball well in the first half– converting 7-of-10 tries on third down–but the offense went stagnant until a late scoring drive.
There was no stopping the Yellow Jackets.
“It was very frustrating,” said Kansas cornerback Tyler Patmon. “That’s one of the most embarrassing games I’ve ever been a part of.”