North Carolina tramples Jackets

North Carolina’s Bug Howard (13) attempts to stretch for a first down as Georgia Tech’s Lawrence Austin (20), Lamont Simmons (6), and Brant Mitchell (51) defend during the first half of an NCAA college football game Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

Without answers for No. 21 North Carolina’s dynamic offense, Georgia Tech suffered predictable defeat Saturday afternoon. The Yellow Jackets lost 48-20 at Kenan Stadium, having absorbed more 636 yards of offense by the Tar Heels.

On defense, Tech was spun around and overpowered, unable to slow down the power running of running back Elijah Hood or the wide-open passing game triggered by quarterback Mitch Trubisky. North Carolina needed a mere 11 possessions to rack up its 48 points, punting only once and never turning the ball over. Two of the possessions ended the first and second halves.

Tech was particularly run over in the second half, getting outscored 21-3 as the Jackets wore down on defense and killed two drives with lost fumbles on offense. In the process, Tech lost both quarterback Justin Thomas and center Freddie Burden to injury.

Tech cleared 500 yards for the second game in a row and averaged 7.6 yards per play, numbers that typically lead to victory. However, the North Carolina picked Tech clean on third downs (8-for-13) and hammered the Jackets with big plays.

Tech’s chances to stay in the game were damaged by two short-circuited drives in the first half. On their fourth series of the game, down 14-7, Tech reached second-and-goal at the UNC 1-yard line but guard Shamire Devine was called for a hold, pushing the Jackets back to the 12. Tech settled for a field goal.

On its last possession before halftime, down 27-17, Tech drove from its own 25-yard line inside the UNC red zone, gaining a first down at the Tar Heels 18. However, the Jackets were called for an illegal forward pass when Thomas’ pitch to A-back Clinton Lynch was ruled to have occurred past the line of scrimmage, wiping out a 9-yard gain. Kicker Harrison Butker’s field-goal try from 32 yards was blocked, keeping the score at 27-17 at halftime.

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