The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets had little reason to celebrate this season, having won only two games this season prior to Thursday nights win over NC State. It has been a rebuild year for the Yellow Jackets, as they brought in former Temple coach Geoff Collins. Collins has had to completely revamp the roster throughout the season as Georgia Tech tries to move past the triple option days. Georgia Tech was looking for momentum to carry over into next year, and they got a huge boost of it Thursday night against NC State.
The game started explosive with a 54 yard pass from Georgia Tech quarterback James Graham to Malachi Carter on the first play of the game. Just two plays later, he connected with Brown for a 17-yard touchdown. After NC State drove all the way down to the Georgia Tech 10-yard line on the ensuing possession, Georgia Tech came up with a huge stop in the red zone on fourth down. The Jackets went three-and-out on the following possession. The Jackets then allowed only one first down on the ensuing NC State drive, and getting the ball back at their own 10-yard line after an NC State punt. Jordan Mason reeled off two huge runs back to back on the next drive, one being a third down conversion, and the other being a 48-yard run. Tech quarterback James Graham fumbled the ball two plays later, and NC State recovered. The Tech defense stood tall though, allowing -4 yards on the drive, and getting the Tech offense good field position. On the first play of the Tech drive, Jordan Mason again made a huge run, this time a 25 yarder. After converting a 4th down conversion later on the drive, James Graham threw his second touchdown of the game, this time a 13 yard pass to former quarterback Tobias Oliver. The Yellow Jackets then forced NC State to another three and out. The Jackets then went three and out, but not before running back Mason got chippy with a few of the NC
state players. Punter was able to pin NC State deep in their own territory at the 4 yard line. The Wolfpack was able to drive down inside the Georgia Tech 5-yard line, until the Tech defense stepped up and stopped them on three straight plays to hold the Wolfpack offense to a field goal. The Tech offense got the ball back with two minutes left in the first half, but wasn’t able to do much, as they punted the ball away to give NC State one last chance to build momentum before halftime. NC State returner fumbled the football, giving Georgia Tech the ball with just over a minute left in field goal range. James Graham would throw his third touchdown pass of the evening to Brown with just over 30 seconds left to play before halftime.
NC State took the opening drive of the second half in for a touchdown. James Graham scored his fourth touchdown of the night on a 26 yard scramble with just over 10 minutes left in the third quarter. The Wolfpack were able to take their next drive down to the 15 yard line before being forced to kick a field goal. Five plays into the ensuing Georgia Tech drive, they fumbled the ball yet again, and NC State would take possession. NC State found the end zone again just a minute and a half later to cut the Georgia Tech lead to eight. After failing to move the ball at all on their next drive, Georgia Tech punted the ball away to NC State. NC State used 12 plays to go 80 yards and score another touchdown. All that stood in NC State’s way was the two point conversion. If they converted the two point conversion, they would tie the game and send it to overtime. Georgia Tech’s defense stood tall though, and didn’t allow the Wolfpack to convert. Georgia Tech used 9 plays in the last 5 minutes to run the clock down and secure the 28-26 win vs NC State.
Head Coach Geoff Collins, running back Jordan Mason, quarterback James Graham, wide receiver Malachi Carter, safety Christian Campbell, and linebacker David Curry all met with the media after the game.
Wide Receiver Malachi Carter on his 54 yard reception on the first play of the game:
“It’s just hard work. Going out to practice not worrying about the touches I had the week before, the week before that. It is just knowing that the harder I work the more opportunities gonna come for me. I know my boy James [Graham] is going to put me in the right place and set me up to play the way I know I can.”
Quarterback James Graham on getting the passing game going and then getting the running game going:
“It was just preparation from practice, and I knew that I could run the ball pretty good but I hadn’t shown it on the field yet so I had seen the hole and threw the ball pretty good had a couple good reads. That first drive we came out tagging through the air, so it was just executed the play. We knew what they [NC State] were gonna come out and do so we just executed what we did in practice.”
Running Back Jordan Mason on how he seemed to be unstoppable for the entire game:
“My O-line, the first two long runs, it was just wide open like butter. All I had to do was run. They built confidence in me running so we just went from there.”
Safety Christian Campbell on the two-point conversion stop late in the game:
“Coach called safety pressure and they [NC State] did a roll out so he [Devin Leary] was running away from me. As I was pursuing him, he tried to stop and throw it back across the field, but he had no idea I was behind him. As soon as he turned to square up I was right there in his face.”
Linebacker David Curry on how it feels to finally win again:
“We have been waiting for it. We have been grinding, grinding, grinding and the feeling afterwards is a lot better than, ‘God, we were close.’ It is an amazing feeling but we have a lot of stuff to keep working on and we know that. It is how I personally look at things, I am happy that we won its hard, winning a college football game is never easy no matter who you are and I am very glad we got one but I am looking forward to this next week because it is going to be a battle.”
Head Coach Geoff Collins on what improvements need to be made heading into next weeks showdown with Georgia:
“Every single week we’ve got to get better. So we’ll digest the film. We’ll go out recruiting tomorrow because that is the lifeblood of our football program, obviously no specifics but that is what we will do. Saturday we’ll get a head start on the game film for our next opponent. It’s a really, really good football team. We’ll come in on Sunday and get ready for preparation, Thanksgiving week and play a team in-state.”