Early scoring strikes send Jackets to win


Early scoring strikes send Jackets to win

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Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas (5) runs for a touchdown in the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, October 15, 2016. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

The end of Georgia Tech’s three-game losing streak was facilitated by a Yellow Jackets specialty – big offensive plays early in the game.

Tech jabbed Georgia Southern with a 58-yard touchdown run by Justin Thomas in the first series and a 65-yard touchdown reception from Thomas to A-back Clinton Lynch on the third. The Jackets led 14-0 less than five minutes into the game.

“We came out fast like we needed to, put the pressure on them,” Thomas said.

The Jackets scored first for the first time since the Vanderbilt game, which not coincidentally was the last time they had won until Saturday. In coach Paul Johnson’s tenure, Tech is 18-32 when the opposition has scored first. The Jackets improved to 47-15 under Johnson when they get the first score.

“We didn’t come out of the gate the way we needed to, certainly, with the start that we had, being down 14-0 before we could blink,” Georgia Southern coach Tyson Summers said.

On the opening possession of the game, Thomas scored on the third play of the game, gaining the edge on an option keeper and then going the distance with downfield blocks from A-back Isiah Willis and wide receiver Ricky Jeune.

After a Georgia Southern three-and-out, which ended Tech’s streak of five consecutive games in which the opposition had scored a touchdown on its first possession, the Jackets went to work again. On the second play of the drive, at the Tech 35-yard line, Thomas hit Lynch running straight down the field and wide open, at least five yards from the nearest defender when he made the catch at the Georgia Southern 44-yard line.

“They had nine guys within two yards of the ball,” Johnson said of the Eagles. “Hard to cover four verticals (routes) with nine guys on the line.”

It was another long-distance score for Lynch, who now has six career touchdowns longer than 40 yards. With two catches for 81 yards, he is now averaging 17.4 yards per touch this season.

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