RALEIGH, N.C. — I’ll post a full column soon on Georgia Tech’s 56-23 in over North Carolina State. Until then, here are my three “Short Takes” on the game.
UPDATE: HERE’S a link to the full game column.
1. THE DEFENSE … SCORES: Welcome to the Twilight Zone. There was a sequence, beginning late in the first quarter, when Georgia Tech’s offense was on the sideline and North Carolina State ran 25 straight plays. But the Jackets outscored the Wolfpack 14-0. In brief: Quayshawn Nealy intercepted a pass at the Tech 1, returned it 69 yards, but fumbled. Technically, that started a new N.C. State possession. Two plays later, D.J. White had an interception and 38-yard return for a touchdown. On the following possession, blitzing linebacker Tyler Marcordes forced a fumble with a sack, leading to Nealy’s 43-yard return for another score. Tech’s defense has forced 11 turnovers in the last three games against Pittsburgh (six), Virginia (two) and N.C. State (three).
2. NOT THAT OFFENSE NEEDED HELP, BUT: There’s a reason N.C. State is 1-5 in the ACC. The Jackets’ first nine full possessions resulted in eight touchdowns and a fumble. They didn’t punt. Their offense didn’t need any help, but I guess it in the Wolfpack’s DNA to do something. So when Tech lined up for a field goal attempt in the third quarter, a Wolfpack player was hit with a personal foul for leaping on the Jackets’ long snapper, presumably in an attempt to block the kick. That gave the Jackets a first down at the 11. Two players later, Matt Connors ran three yards for a touchdown and a 49-16 lead. Side note: B-back Synjyn Days rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown before being pulled in the third quarter.
3. THE BIG PICTURE: The odds are still against the Jackets catching Duke for the Coastal Division lead. But an upset win over visiting Clemson next week to conclude its ACC schedule could be a significant boost in terms of what bowl they’re invited to. At 5-2 in the conference, Tech would need Duke (4-1) to lose two of its remaining three games to win the Coastal because the Blue Devils own the tiebreaker by virtue of its win over the Jackets. Duke has an easy remaining ACC schedule, and all of the games are at home: Virginia Tech (1-4), North Carolina (2-3) and Wake Forest (0-5).
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