Defense, officiating cost Tech late in loss to Citadel

Photo courtesy of Tom Hightower

In stunning fashion, The Citadel upset the Jackets 27-24 in overtime Saturday afternoon. Tech struggled to defend the option all game long, and it took only a late drive from Tech to force the game into overtime, but after the Jackets failed to convert a down in OT and missed a field goal, Citadel kicker Jacob Godek chipped in a 37-yard field goal to give the FCS Bulldogs an upset victory.

Controversial officiating sends game to OT

On their last drive of the game, Tech appeared to score a go-ahead touchdown with just 6 seconds left – however, the play was called back, as Tech coach Geoff Collins called a timeout prior to the snap on the play, and the play was blown dead. Tech instead had to settle for a field goal to tie the game, sending it into overtime. Prior to the play, GT was called for a false-start penalty, and with 13 seconds on the game clock, the referees announced that the game clock would start on the snap, contrary to NCAA rules. However, the clock instead correctly began on the referees’ signal, and Collins used his timeout to stop the clock just before the play was in motion. With not enough time on the clock, Collins was forced to try for a tying field goal. Postgame, Collins levied hefty blame on the errant officiating for the game: “All of us heard what was said [by the refs]… if we don’t have the ability to take our time, we have a cadence right when the ball is in play we snap it and we go – that would have been activated if those things had not been said… I imagine that was a key factor in that game.”

Johnson struggles with passing, Oliver shines with rushing

With QB James Graham out with injury, the normal rotation at QB for Tech was disrupted, and it was Lucas Johnson and Tobias Oliver slotting in at QB. Johnson struggled mightily with passing, going just 5/10 with 91 yards in the air, and was sacked three times as Tech’s decimated offensive line struggled to protect their QB. Out of the scramble, Oliver fared far better – the RS sophomore went just 2-3 with 27 yards in the air but rushed for 93 yards on 11 carries at QB. Oliver also filled in on two kick-returns, totaling 96 yards.

Perimeter defense lacking

Despite having played the option for more than a decade, Tech’s defense looked thoroughly unprepared to face the Citadel’s offensive scheme. The Bulldogs controlled the clock to a dominating degree, 41:50 time of possession compared to 18:10 for Tech, and the Jackets’ perimeter defense looked like swiss cheese against the FCS team. Tech allowed 320 rushing yards and the Citadel converted on 8 of 16 third downs. Postgame, RS Junior LB David Curry said postgame that, “It comes down to guys doing their job – it starts up front and then to linebackers and then to secondaries, everyone has to do their job… at certain points, guys just didn’t do their job.”

Tech struggles with penalties

The Jackets found themselves on the wrong side of the whistle multiple times Saturday, including a drive that included three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Crucially, after a third-down stop, DL Chris Martin taunted Citadel QB Brandon Rainey and was flagged for it, giving the Bulldogs new life for the drive. The game appeared to get chippy following a kick-off early in the second quarter, as Tech and Citadel players shoved off each other during the play. Tech recorded eight penalties for 80 yards during the game. Postgame, Collins noted that Tech had only recorded four penalties in their first two games but said that “there were sometimes today that some frustration set in, some chippy-ness set in, and we cost ourselves early in the game.”