Jackets defense defeated by UNC running game

Victor Alexander #9 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets tackles Elijah Hood #34 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the game at Kenan Stadium on November 5, 2016 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 48-20. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

For the second game in a row, the Georgia Tech defense was blasted in the run game. The Yellow Jackets gave up 283 rushing yards on 35 attempts to North Carolina on Saturday, an 8.1 yards-per-carry average.

The rushing total tied for the fourth highest by an opponent in coach Paul Johnson’s tenure. The yards-per-carry rate was the second highest, surpassed only by Clemson’s 9.5 in the 2009 ACC Championship game.

The Tech defense was overpowered by North Carolina running back Elijah Hood, who ran for 168 yards on only 12 carries and scored three touchdowns. Often charging through wide creases in the line, Hood was never tackled for a loss and had seven runs of 10 yards or more.

“Aligning up, fitting (gaps),” safety Corey Griffin said. “It all comes down to the small things. Those small things turn into big things. They gash us when we don’t do those small things correctly.”

Hood made one of big plays of the game in the first quarter. Ahead 10-7, North Carolina faced fourth-and-1 at the Tech 36-yard line. Tech put eight players in the box. The Jackets filled gaps on the left side of their line, but left a huge lane open on the right. Hood cut back and was barely touched on the way to the end zone to give the Tar Heels a 17-7 lead.

Hood ran for 1,463 yards last season, but had struggled this season with nagging injuries. He said his body was turning a corner this week after the Tar Heels had their open date.

A week ago, Duke ran for 254 yards on 37 carries. In the first seven games, Tech had been giving up 4.0 yards per carry. In the past two games, the average is 7.5.

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