Georgia Tech gets its first win of the season, knocking off Jacksonville State

The Georgia Tech defense came up with two interceptions and a fumble that set up three touchdowns and enabled the Yellow Jackets to defeat Jacksonville State 37-10 on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The Yellow Jackets were playing on short rest after losing to Tennessee on Monday, and they were against an FCS team that had 13 transfers from FBS programs. The strength of the opponent was evident when Georgia Tech trailed 7-3 late in the first quarter.

That’s when Jacksonville State jumped on the turnover train.

An interception by Georgia Tech’s Lawrence Austin with 1:34 left in the half set up a 27-yard touchdown pass from TaQuon Marshall to Ricky Jeune and gave the Yellow Jackets a 10-7 halftime lead.

Step Durham intercepted a pass on Jacksonville State’s first possession of the third quarter. That led to a 23-yard touchdown pass from Marshall to Jeune, who caught the ball at the 5, spun around a defender and scored to make it 17-7.

Georgia Tech scored again with 8:57 left in the third quarter when Marshall rolled out and hit J.J. Green in front of the goalpost for a 10-yard score. That drive began when A.J. Gray recovered a fumble on Jacksonville State’s first play after receiving the kickoff.

Three who mattered

Marshall: The junior completed 5-of-7 passes for 112 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed 13 times for 18 yards and one touchdown. In two games, Marshall has scored six touchdowns and accounted for nine touchdowns.

Jeune: The senior caught two passes for 50 yards and the pair of impressive touchdowns. On the first, he fought through pass interference to catch the ball in the right corner of the end zone. On the second, he spun out of the grasp of a tackler and turned a first down into a touchdown.

Lawrence Austin: He tipped a pass away in the second quarter that brother Lance Austin dropped. Lawrence then picked one off on the next possession for the sixth interception of his career. He also had five tackles, including four solo stops.

Turning point

Georgia Tech had turned the ball over on downs, and Jacksonville State had moved near midfield when Lawrence Austin intercepted a pass and returned it to the 32. The Yellow Jackets scored two plays later and took a 10-7 lead into halftime.

Observations

Welcome back, Clinton Lynch: Georgia Tech’s junior A-back missed the first game with a lower-body injury. He immediately made his presence felt the first time he touched the ball, a reception that went for 33 yards and set up the first field goal.

An A-back sort of day: After feasting on gains up the middle against Tennessee, the Yellow Jackets had more opportunities to pitch the ball against Jacksonville State. The four primary A-backs ran the ball 11 times for 74 yards.

Jerry? Hello: Georgia Tech fans finally got to see B-back Jerry Howard in the third quarter, and he provided instant gratification. After losing 1 yard on his first carry, Howard burst through the line and ran 65 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest run by a true freshman at Georgia Tech since Jonathan Dwyer in 2007.

Sack it up: Georgia Tech had four sacks — two by Anree Saint-Amour and two by freshman T.D. Roof.

Worth mentioning

No lineup changes: Despite missing two field goals against Tennessee, Shawn Davis kicked well enough this week to retain his job as the starting place-kicker. He looked confident in kicking a 34-yard field goal early in the game and kicked a 40-yarder that was waved off when the team accepted a roughing penalty that extended a scoring drive. But Davis missed an extra point, so the competition at the position likely will continue.

That was cold, Jacksonville State band: The Jacksonville State band’s members entered Bobby Dodd Stadium 90 minutes prior to the game to take their spot in the stands. They were singing “Rocky Top,” the favorite ditty of the Tennessee Volunteers.

What’s next?

Georgia Tech travels Saturday to Central Florida. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

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