Georgia Tech’s defense keeps forcing turnovers, and the team keeps winning.
The Yellow Jackets intercepted Clemson’s Cole Stoudt three times in Saturday’s 28-6 victory at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The interceptions, one by Jamal Golden for a touchdown in the first half, one by D.J. White early in the third quarter and one by Chris Milton for a touchdown late in the third quarter, were turned into 15 points by Tech’s offense.
In the Jackets’ past four games, all Tech wins, they have forced 14 turnovers. For the season, they have turned 18 of their 24 turnovers into points, including six defensive touchdowns.
“Anytime you can score on defense, it’s great,” Tech coach Paul Johnson said.
The first interception likely will make a highlight reel if you are a Tech fan.
Stoudt, in for starting quarterback Deshaun Watson, who left the game with a knee injury a few plays earlier, dropped back on third-and-4 at Tech’s 8-yard line. Stoudt ran right, but spun back to his left to throw a screen. From studying film, Golden said he recognized the formation, based upon where the tight end lined up on the left side, and the likely play. Golden slipped through the convoy of blockers to intercept the pass and return it 85 yards for a touchdown. It was the first defensive touchdown of his career.
“When I got it and I saw open field, just being a kick returner/punt returner I was just thinking, get to the end zone,” Golden said.
On the second interception, Stoudt tried to loft the ball over White to a receiver along the sideline. But he underthrew the pass, and White leapt into the air for the catch at the 44-yard line. Tech eventually kicked a 32-yard field goal to take a 19-3 lead.
“I just tried to read the quarterback’s eyes and bait him a little bit,” White said.
On the third, Stoudt tried to hit Germone Hopper running across the middle on a third-and-9 at the 49-yard line. But Stoudt didn’t see Milton sitting deep, and at the same time he badly led Hopper. Milton ran in front of Hopper, intercepted the pass and returned it for a 62-yard touchdown to give the Jackets a 25-6 lead.
The Jackets have six defensive touchdowns this season, including five interceptions returned for scores. The last time Tech returned two interceptions for a touchdown in the same game came against Elon last year.
“The quarterback was looking at him the whole time,” Milton said. “I kind of figured he was coming that way. When he just let it go, I kind of looked for the receiver and didn’t see him. I knew it was coming to me.”
“You’re not going to beat Georgia Tech when they score on defense,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.