On Sept. 4, the Tech football team opened its 2010 season against the Bulldogs of South Carolina State. Tech came out on top 41-10. Both teams won their respective conferences last season.
The Bulldogs started the game off with by kicking an onside kick in hopes of catching the Jackets off guard. However, Tech recovered the kick, giving the team great field position.
“I loved [the onside kick call]. It gave our offense great field position to start the game,” said Head Coach Paul Johnson.
Tech’s offense sputtered and was faced with fourth and short on its first drive. Senior quarterback Joshua Nesbitt took the snap and rolled to his left on an option play. Nesbitt decided to keep the ball and ran 35-yards into the end zone for Tech’s first score.
The Bulldogs answered Tech’s touchdown with a field goal on their first possession. South Carolina State went on a methodical 15-play drive that featured a lot of short passes executed to perfection.
Nesbitt and the Jackets took the ball after the ensuing kickoff and used their option offense to march down the field. Four different players ran the football in the drive before Nesbitt scored from one-yard out for his second score of the day.
The Bulldogs blocked the point-after-touchdown so the Jackets would settle with a 13-3 lead.
After missed field goal by S.C. State, Tech scored another touchdown on their third possession. The drive was capped off with redshirt junior A-back Roddy Jones’ one-yard touchdown run, his first of the game.
Tech had more chances to score in the half, but Nesbitt threw an interception that went right through the hands of junior receiver Tyler Melton.
“When I threw the ball I knew that would be my first completion today, but it was the wrong completion,” Nesbitt said.
Later in the half, Tech spoiled another opportunity to score when junior A-back Embry Peeples fumbled a pitch from Nesbitt.
“It was a lack of focus on both. Not either one of their faults, it would help us if the guy inside would block somebody and then there wouldn’t have been anyone there anyway. He has to catch the pitch but we have to be able to cancel somebody with our inside guys,” Johnson said.
Tech’s defense forced a stop to start the first half, and Nesbitt scored his third touchdown of the day with the team’s next possession. Nesbitt finished the day with 130 yards on only 16 carries.
“I think I did alright, but I know that I can do better. I just have to go out there and make sure that everyone is doing their job and doing the right thing and it will all fall in place,” Nesbitt said.
Later in the third, Jones ran 15-yards for his second score of the day. Jones took a pitch and ran to his right. He outran most of the defenders but there was still one man to beat before Jones could score. Instead of running through the defender, Jones elected to go over him, flipping himself into the end zone.
“It was definitely nice to be healthy and contribute to the offensive performance. On my second touchdown, anytime you go up in the air you get nervous, but I wanted to get the ball across the goal line and that was just the quickest way to do it,” Jones said.
Jones finished the day with 45 yards on four carries with two touchdowns. It was arguably his best performance since 2008’s game against UGA.
“It was good to go out there and have a good day. In this offense, anybody can go out there and have a big day, but today I was the one [in the game] for most of the big plays,” Jones said.
South Carolina State finally scored its first and only touchdown later in the quarter thanks to a 55-yard run. Two plays later the Bulldogs cut Tech’s lead to 24.
“We would have liked to play better. We were disappointed with [the other team’s] long runs,” said Defensive Coordinator Al Groh.
Johnson chose to use some younger players in the fourth quarter but that did not mean that Tech was any less successful. Tech’s second unit went on a drive that lasted seven minutes and sophomore quarterback Tevin Washington scored from 10 yards out to end the day’s scoring.
“[Washington] was our quarterback all spring. He has played. We’ve got confidence in Tevin. It was good to get his feet wet. I’m sure he was a little bit tight for the first one with all of the people there but we have confidence in him,” Johnson said.
Tech played well and led the entire game. However, the team will face a whole different environment when it makes its first ever trip to Kansas on Sept. 11 for their next game.
“I think that we had a good start, but we have a lot of work to do still. The team got into game shape this week, but we will be better next week,” Nesbitt said.