Georgia Tech’s defense snaps scoring skid

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Georgia Tech’s defense snaps scoring skid

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October 15, 2016 Atlanta - Georgia Southern running back Wesley Fields (21) tries to hold the football as he falls to the ground in the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, October 15, 2016. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Georgia Tech finally snapped a forgettable skid when it held Georgia Southern to a scoreless first drive in Saturday’s game at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

“Coach (Paul) Johnson challenged us all week about making that change,” safety A.J. Gray said. “We just stuck to it and kept it in the back of our minds what he said.”

The Yellow Jackets’ (4-3) previous five opponents had scored touchdowns on their opening drives. Tech was 2-3 in those games with three consecutive losses to Clemson, Miami and Pittsburgh.

The Eagles on Saturday started on their 21-yard line with Tech leading 7-0 after a 58-yard touchdown run by Justin Thomas.

Tech started well with quarterback Favian Upshaw dropped by Rod Rook-Chungong for a 2-yard loss. Tech’s defense has had issues this season making tackles for loss.

Upshaw’s pass was incomplete on second down and Tech stopped Montay Crockett for a 7-yard gain on third-and-12 on the 19-yard line.

Tech’s offense took advantage of the stop to tack on another touchdown on a 65-yard pass from Thomas to Clinton Lynch.

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof has said twice in the past two weeks that he has theories why Tech’s defense has had trouble on the opening possession, but each time declined to say what they were. Roof moved from coaching on the field to the box for the first time this season.

Johnson said it didn’t matter to him if Roof coached on the field or in the box. He said he actually thought Roof coached better from the box. It’s something Johnson said he considered doing also.

Tech’s players have said they needed to increase their focus and energy.

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