Tech falls in season’s first road game

Sophomore quarterback Jeff Sims prepares to throw against UCF. He was 21-32 for 314 yards and a touchdown, setting a season high for passing yards. // Photo courtesy of GTAA

Tech football set out for Orlando, Fla. this weekend to face the University of Central Florida (UCF). The team took on the UCF Knights at FBC Mortgage Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 24. Despite a hard fought game, the Jackets fell to the Knights 27-10. 

The Jackets got off to a slow start in the first quarter. The offense only had 36 yards total, and the defense gave up 102 yards and a field goal. Tech recorded an interception during the first quarter. The Jackets were down 3-0 after one quarter.

From a statistics perspective, the team fared better in the second quarter totaling 175 yards on offense and only gave up 58 yards to UCF, but they gave up another field goal and touchdown to UCF. Tech did score their only touchdown of the day during the second quarter. At halftime, the score was 13-7 in favor of the Knights. 

The Jackets had more than two times the offensive production of the Knights in the third quarter. Tech had 63 yards on the ground and 101 yards in the air for a total of 164 yards while UCF only had 59 yards total. Each team kicked a field goal and the score was 16-10 heading into the fourth quarter. 

UCF gained momentum and would not be denied on their home field, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter. The Knights had 108 offensive yards to the Jackets’ 22. Tech defense stopped the passing game — only giving up eight yards — but they folded under the running game giving up 108 yards on the ground. 

Overall, the Jackets did not produce up to their standard, but they had a few high points that should be recognized. The team totaled 138 yards in the run game and 314 yards in the passing game. The run game was the second-best seen all year from the Jackets, only totaling fewer yards than in the game versus Western Carolina. 

The 314 passing yards were the result of a productive day from sophomore quarterback Jeff Sims. This was a season-high for Sims who went 21-32 with one touchdown and no interceptions. This production from Sims is all the more impressive when considering the four sacks by the UCF defense. 

The rushing leader for the game was senior running back Hassan Hall who ran for 54 yards. Sims and redshirt junior Dontae Smith followed with 38 yards and 37 yards, respectively. Senior receiver Malachi Carter tallied a touchdown and led the team in receiving yards with 89 yards. Sophomore wideout Nate McCollum also had a productive night, producing 51 yards on six receptions. 

On the defensive front, a couple of familiar names led the team in tackles. Senior linebackers Charlie Thomas and Ayinde Eley each counted 10 tackles on the night. 

The Jackets went 1-3 on field goals. Jude Kelley made a 42-yard field goal, but missed from 32 and 37 yards. 

Overall, when the Jackets could hold onto the ball and control the clock, they were solid, but when UCF controlled the clock with their dominant run game, Tech folded under the pressure. With this loss, the Jackets move to 1-3 on their season, which is not the start that the Institute expected from the 2022-2023 team, giving rise to questions about the team’s future. 

The Tech-faithful are concerned about the direction their football team is going in. What was once considered a Division-I powerhouse has turned into a team that is questionable on a weekly basis. 

The Jackets have seen ample support from their home crowd despite their less than stellar record up to this point. Hopefully, when the Jackets return home to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Oct. 8 for Homecoming, they will have better production for the Atlanta crowd. The Jackets could definitely use a big game to clear some of the woes surrounding their current performance.