[media-credit name="John Nakano" align="alignright" width="741"][/media-credit]Just five days after a season-opening loss on Labor Day, the Jackets were looking to rebound at home on Saturday, Sept. 8, against the Presbyterian Blue Hose. Tech did just that, shutting out Presbyterian until the final play of regulation and topping the Blue Hose 59-3.
The Tech offense posted the second-best performance in school history, racking up 712 yards of total offense despite losing three fumbles. Defensively, the Jackets held Presbyterian to 243 yards of total offense while limiting the Blue Hose to a 37 percent completion rate on pass attempts. Presbyterian was only able to convert two of their 16 third-down attempts and could not convert either of their two fourth-down attempts. Presbyterian’s inability to maintain drives resulted in them being forced to punt nine times while losing three turnovers.
“I think there were a lot of positives. I don’t care who you play; if you get those big plays, you are doing some things right,” said Head Coach Paul Johnson.
The Jackets had two 100-yard rushers for the first time since last season’s 66-24 rout of the Kansas Jayhawks. Sophomore B-back Zach Laskey and redshirt freshman quarterback Vad Lee had 116 and 101 rushing yards, respectively, while redshirt senior quarterback Tevin Washington posted 97 yards on the ground.
The Blue Hose began the game on offense, posting three straight incompletions before being forced to punt. The Jackets quickly struck for their first touchdown, with Laskey getting his first carry on a third-and-4 play and bursting through Presbyterian’s defensive front for a 56-yard touchdown run to put the Jackets up 7-0.
The Jackets continued the strong first quarter with a 58-yard touchdown run by Washington three possessions later, followed by a three-yard touchdown by redshirt sophomore quarterback Synjyn Days on the following possession. The Jackets ended the first quarter up 21-0 while allowing Presbyterian only 37 yards of offense.
The Blue Hose finally began to get an offensive rhythm going early in the second quarter, driving 49 yards to set up a 43-yard field goal attempt. That attempt, however, was blocked by Tech redshirt junior outside linebacker Brandon Watts.
After the success in the first quarter, though, the Jackets began to struggle with ball security, with both Days and Washington losing fumbles during Tech’s first two possessions of the second quarter.
The Jackets’ defense responded by stopping both of Presbyterian’s fourth down conversion attempts after the turnovers. The Jackets then closed out the half with an 82-yard drive in the final 2:39 that led to a 32-yard field goal by redshirt junior kicker David Scully. The Jackets went into the locker room with a 24-0 advantage.
The third quarter started much like the second quarter for the Jackets, with redshirt sophomore B-back Charles Perkins losing a fumble before the Jackets’ ball security woes came to an end.
On the Jackets’ next possession following the Perkins fumble, Washington completed a 40-yard pass to redshirt sophomore A-back Tony Zenon before hitting redshirt junior A-back Robert Godhigh for a 45-yard touchdown pass the following play.
After the kickoff, Presbyterian’s Garrick threw a pass that was quickly intercepted by sophomore safety Jamal Golden. Two plays later, Lee dove into the endzone for the one-yard score to put the Jackets up 38-0.
With Tech holding a comfortable lead, freshman Lee continued to play at quarterback and began producing big plays both through the air and on the ground. Late in the third quarter, he fired a deep pass to sophomore receiver Jeff Greene, who hauled it in and escaped two defenders for an 82-yard touchdown. The play was the sixth-longest passing score in school history.
On the following possession, Lee bobbled a high snap on a quarterback draw, and broke through the Presbyterian defense for a 79-yard run before being caught from behind. Lee’s 79-yard run was also a record: the longest non-scoring rush in school history.
The Jackets closed the game in the fourth quarter with two B-backs, redshirt freshman B-back Broderick Snoddy and redshirt sophomore Matt Connors, each punching in a touchdown to increase the lead to 59-0.
In the game’s final minutes, Presbyterian drove 62 yards to set up a 30-yard field goal on the final play from regulation to set the final score at 59-3.
The Jackets return to ACC action at home this Saturday, Sept. 15, at 3:30 p.m. against the Virginia Cavaliers.