Against Virginia Tech (7-2, 5-1) last season, the Jackets scored a touchdown on both trips inside the red zone.
“They’re very aggressive, and they’ve got good players,” coach Paul Johnson said. “I think (defensive coordinator Bud Foster) does a very good job; he has been doing it for a long time. They are who they are, they’ve got an identity and that’s the way they play.”
Against North Carolina (7-2, 5-1), the Jackets were close to punching the ball in the end zone on their fourth possession of the first half when Tech had the ball on the North Carolina’s 1 only to be pushed back with a holding penalty called on offensive lineman Shamire Devine. Tech fell back to the 12 and settled for a 23-yard field goal.
“That holding penalty down on the goal line, that’s inexcusable,” offensive line coach Mike Sewak said. “It’s not even a technique we teach. It’s just poor (judgment) on the kid, and he knows it. He shouldn’t have done it and it’s a mess-up. We should have taken care of business right there, and then we could have come right back.”
Georgia Tech had four penalties for 26 years against the Tar Heels.
On their last possession of the first half, the Jackets reached North Carolina’s 18, but were pushed back by an illegal-forward-pass penalty on Thomas. The Jackets’ failed to convert on second down or third down and settled for a 32-yard field-goal attempt, which was deflected by North Carolina safety D.J. Ford. The Jackets ended the half trailing 27-17.
“We get a field goal. We kick the field goal low,” Johnson said. “They didn’t get any real penetration on the jumper’s block, but we kick it low and that was a huge play right before half, and it cuts it to one score. Then we turn the ball over twice. Unexplainable.”
Freshman B-back Dedrick Mills was responsible for both fumbles Saturday, with one on Tech’s own 44-yard line and the other inside the red zone on the Jackets’ next possession.