Georgia Tech claimed its season opener with a 38-19 win over Wofford, but it was a less-than-satisfying triumph at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets trailed late in the first quarter after giving up a school-record 92-yard touchdown run and only gradually pulled away from the Terriers in the second half, securing the game in the fourth quarter.
With its triple-option offense, Wofford dragged the Tech defense for scoring drives of 53, 94, 41 and 75 yards, taking advantage of the Jackets’ poor tackling and pursuit. The questions about Tech’s inexperience on defense linger.
As Tech (1-0) mixed in a number of new starters, Saturday’s performance was a perfect explanation why FBS schools often schedule FCS teams for their season openers rather than face equals. Tech’s $250,000 check to Wofford (0-1) was money well spent.
Saturday’s star was wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who caught five passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns, setting career highs for receptions and receiving yardage. Another was B-back Zach Laskey, who scored two touchdowns and contributed 70 yards. A third was defensive end Roderick Rook-Chungong, who was credited with five tackles in his first start.
Tech trailed 9-7 with 51 seconds left in the first half after Wofford running back Ray Smith went 92 yards on a third-down option play up the middle. It was the longest run against Tech in school history.
The Jackets reclaimed the lead at the end of the half with a 30-yard field goal by Harrison Butker to end the half. Tech then took the opening kickoff and drove 72 yards for a field goal, following it with a one-play, 71-yard touchdown drive on a Justin Thomas pass to Smelter. Wofford answered again with a 75-yard touchdown drive to cut the lead to 24-19 with 9:49 left in the fourth quarter.
Tech finally put the game out of reach with a three-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that Laskey concluded with an 11-yard touchdown drive, lifting the score to 31-19. Tech’s defense followed with an emphatic three-and-out, its third of the day.
Attendance was 45,403.