While turnovers cost Georgia Tech in its first game against Tennessee, turnovers bought the Yellow Jackets a victory Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The Jackets’ defense forced three timely turnovers against FCS Jacksonville State in a 37-10 win. All three of those turnovers led to touchdowns, which helped Tech turn a four-point deficit into a 16-point lead.
Senior cornerback Lawrence Austin started the turnover chain late in the first half. The Jackets’ offense had virtually zero success moving the football against the Gamecocks, which had a 7-3 lead. Needing the defense to make a play, Austin undercut a route and picked off Jacksonville State quarterback Bryant Horn.
“I saw a sprint out and when you see sprint out you just run,” Austin said. “The D-line got great pressure, so it was easy for me. He threw it right to me.”
Austin set the Jackets up at the Gamecocks 32-yard line with 1:34 till halftime. It only took 14 seconds after that for Tech to take the lead on a 27-yard pass from TaQuon Marshall to Ricky Jeune.
“That was great,” defensive end Anree Saint-Amour said. “It was just a lot of energy added to the team going into the half and coming out of the half.”
“It was a good play. I think it changed the first half,” coach Paul Johnson said. “The biggest thing to me is when we came out in the third quarter and got the two quick turnovers.”
The Jackets had consecutive takeaways on Jacksonville State’s first two drives of the second half. Step Durham intercepted a pass at the Gamecocks 16-yard line, and A.J. Gray recovered a fumble on the Gamecocks 29. Both those turnovers set up short drives for Marshall and the Tech offense.
“It’s always great when the defense gets a turnover and you are already on your own side of the 50,” Marshall said. “You don’t have to drive down the field that far. You have more variety of plays you can run.”
Marshall threw two more touchdowns off those second-half turnovers to put the Jackets ahead 23-7 midway through the third quarter.