Both teams were ready to begin play. The Reck had already led on the Jackets and the coin had already been tossed, but in the faint distance there was a sound that no sports fan ever wants to hear: thunder. Quickly, players for both sides were led back into the locker room, and fans were told to seek shelter. This continued for about two hours with periods of hard rain and intermittent thunder. After a two hour, twenty-three minute delay on the opening kickoff, Tech finally kicked it off with the South Carolina State Bulldogs to commence the home opener.
It didn’t take long for Tech fans to feel the reward of waiting over two hours for the game. On the third play from the scrimmage for the Bulldogs, junior defensive linemen Kyle Kennard got an interception, leading to an immediate scoring opportunity for the Jackets. Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Haynes King led the offense onto the field where the Jackets got a first down after two unsuccessful screen passes. This set-up a prime opportunity for redshirt sophomore running back Jamal Haynes to burst up the middle for a four yard touchdown to start the scoring. After a quick three and out for the SC State offense, King got the ball back with great field position. Following multiple long runs from junior running back Trey Cooley, Tech had another goal to go situation. On third down, King rolled to his right and threw a nice lob pass to the back right of the endzone to redshirt-junior receiver Dominick Blaylock. Just like that, the Jackets were leading the Bulldogs 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
On the next Bulldogs’ possession, coach Oliver Pough decided to put in his mobile platoon quarterback, Andre Washington. This switch-up allowed the Bulldogs to move the ball more effectively, but ultimately the drive was stalled, and the ball was punted back to the Jackets. Tech decided to keep it on the ground for a majority of the next drive, running with both Haynes and Cooley. After multiple effective runs, King decided to switch it up and throw it to Chase Lane for a 23 yard grab, entering the redzone. Eventually the Jackets got the ball down to the one yard line. However, Cooley and King messed up the exchange as Cooley lacked great control of the ball as it popped out in the endzone and was recovered by the Bulldogs. Even with the momentum of this turnover, Washington and the Bulldogs’ offense failed to move into Jacket territory and punted the ball back to the Jackets after a quick defensive stop.
On the following possession, Head Coach Brent Key dialed up multiple short pass plays and Tech quickly moved into SC State territory. Then, on a second and 13, King dropped back into the pocket and found freshman wide receiver Eric Singleton Jr. wide open in the back left of the endzone for a 40 yard touchdown grab.
Singleton’s stop and go route faked out the defender, leaving him unguarded streaking down the left side. The game was beginning to turn into a rout with the Jackets leading 21-0. While the score remained the same for most of the second quarter, it was clear the Jackets were the more dominant team. A bright spot for the Bulldogs occurred when they put together an efficient two minute drive and starting quarterback Corey Fields Jr. punched the ball in the endzone on a one yard run. Instead of just settling for halftime, Key wanted more. With 34 seconds left in the half, Haynes broke a 67 yard run up the middle and with just 20 seconds to go, King found redshirt junior tight end Brett Seither in the endzone to make the halftime score 28-6.
The second half for the Jackets was just as dominant as the first. Highlighted by a 55 yard Cooley touchdown reception, a 15 yard Cooley touchdown run and two field goals from redshirt freshman kicker Aidan Birr at 30 yards and 42 yards respectively, the second half was not short on big plays. King finished the game with 290 passing yards and four passing touchdowns and Cooley led the way for the running backs with 154 yards and two touchdowns. Haynes also added 113 rushing yards and one touchdown. Overall, it was a commanding performance for the Jackets putting up 48 points and only allowing 13. This 48-13 win gives Tech loads of momentum going into Oxford, MS next Saturday against the 17th ranked Ole Miss Rebels. Tech looks to grab their third road ranked win in two years.