Georgia Tech might have lost its season opener to Tennessee in heartbreaking fashion, but the Yellow Jackets appear to have found a quarterback entering Saturday’s home opener against Jacksonville State. TaQuon Marshall, announced as the starter shortly before the Yellow Jackets blew a late lead in losing 42-41 in overtime, rushed for 249 yards and five touchdowns – including two scores in overtime – before he was stopped on a two-point conversion attempt to end the game.
Replacing three-year starter Justin Thomas at quarterback, Marshall also completed 5-of-9 passes for 120 yards and directed the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option attack to 535 yards rushing. But plenty of work remains on defense, where Georgia Tech could not slow down Tennessee in the second half. “We never created a negative play, so you never get them behind, and then they got some big plays,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson told reporters afterward. The Gamecocks, ranked fifth in the FCS Coaches Poll, opened its season with a 27-13 victory over Chattanooga on Aug. 26.
TV: 12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network. LINE: None
ABOUT JACKSONVILLE STATE (1-0): Roc Thomas led the Gamecocks in the opener, rushing for 122 yards and a 76-yard touchdown and finishing with 190 yards of total offense. Bryant Horn made his first career start at quarterback, passing for 182 yards and a touchdown. Jacksonville State, which returned nine starters on defense from last season, limited Chattanooga to 205 yards of total offense until a final drive netted 89 yards and a touchdown.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH (0-1): Marshall – a junior who rushed for 72 yards total in his first two seasons – set a school record and ACC record for most yards rushing by a quarterback in one game. The Yellow Jackets ran a staggering 96 plays on offense and held possession for 41 minutes, 27 seconds, getting 124 yards rushing and a touchdown from KirVonte Benson. But Shawn Davis missed two field goals, including a 36-yarder at the end of regulation, and Johnson indicated Brenton King will get a chance this week.
1. Marshall was named ACC offensive back of the week after finishing with 369 yards of total offense.
2. The Yellow Jackets have won both previous matchups against Jacksonville State (41-14 in 2008, 37-17 in 2009).
3. Georgia Tech’s loss Monday marked only the third time in the past 10 seasons a team has rushed for 500-plus yards and lost.
PREDICTION: Georgia Tech 38, Jacksonville State 10