5 things learned in Georgia Tech’s loss to Bowling Green

Bowling Green offensive tackle Tunde Fatukasi (53) celebrates the Falcons 38-24 win over Georgia Tech  Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (Daniel Varnado/ For the AJC)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Bowling Green offensive tackle Tunde Fatukasi (53) celebrates the Falcons 38-24 win over Georgia Tech Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (Daniel Varnado/ For the AJC)

Georgia Tech took an embarrassing loss on the chin Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium, falling 38-27 to visiting Bowling Green.

Tech was coming off a 30-16 road victory at Wake Forest the week prior, then turned around and laid an egg against a Falcons squad that came in 0-3 against FBS competition. But the Falcons (1-3) controlled the game in all areas and, after falling behind 14-0 less than six minutes in, scored 38 straight much to the chagrin to the 30,097 who showed up Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets (2-3, 1-1 ACC) now head to Miami (4-0, 1-0 ACC) to resume league play. Before then, here are five things learned from Tech’s defeat Saturday:

1. ‘An epic failure’

Never one to sugarcoat anything, Tech coach Brent Key was understandably upset with Saturday’s result – upset at himself, his staff and his players. He called the loss, “an epic failure.”

“At the end of the day it’s on me. I’m the head football coach. It was a failure in every aspect of the program today,” he said. “At the end of the day that’s on me, it’s on me to evaluate it, it’s on me to make decisions, it’s on me to get ‘em prepared, it’s on me to be able to fix this.”

Key, in his first year as the program’s head coach and during the week of his one-year anniversary of being named interim coach, had a chance to see his team improve to 3-2 ahead of a major conference showdown next week. But the Jackets went AWOL after a high-flying start.

Quarterback Haynes King threw two touchdown passes in less than six minutes to put Tech up 14-0. The Tech defense held BGSU to 28 yards and forced a punt.

It all went awry from there.

The Falcons scored on five of their next seven possessions (and one of those series ended with the first-half clock running out). Bowling Green had 438 yards of total offense, gave up 175 yards on the ground, converted 10 third downs and scored on all five trips into the red zone.

Tech turned the ball over three times, including once on a punt snap that hit one of its own players on its flight back to the punter.

“Inconsistency from week to week is not acceptable,” Key said. “The lack of everything in this football game from being able to run the football, being able to stop the run, being able to get off the field on third downs, stay on the field on third downs, to be able to score in the red area, turnovers, time of possession, field possession, lack of explosives and big plays and lack of being able to limit them, sustaining blocks, tackling. We’ve got major work to do. We’ve got to stop this. We’ve got to fix this ASAP.”

2. Falcons overlooked

It’s not often you hear teams admit to overlooking an opponent.

“For sure. That’s an emphasis we made at the beginning of the week, I just don’t think we took as seriously as we should have,” Tech linebacker Paul Moala honestly assessed the Jackets’ mindset. “I think moving forward I think we’re gonna work with a chip on our shoulder and make sure that we’re never feeling like this ever again as a defense and never overlooking an opponent regardless of what division they play in or what conference they play in. This one hurts.”

Tech was a three-touchdown favorite Saturday. Bowling Green’s lone win had come over an FCS team and it had been held to 13 points combined in its last two losses.

The Jackets, now 17-25 in their last 42 games and 11-19 in their last 30 home games, were not really in a position to overlook any opponent given the program’s recent struggles. And overlook BGSU or not, Tech didn’t just get nipped in a wild upset, it was beaten every which way.

“It’s just natural for maybe a few guys to overlook an opponent or things like that, but I wouldn’t say that was the complete mindset of the entire team. I don’t think anything preparation-wise went wrong,” Tech safety LaMiles Brooks said. “I feel like we prepared as hard as we could, prepared the way we should have.

“I think it was more so on the execution side. We weren’t executing in the game. I feel like we prepared the same as we prepare for every game and we’ll continue to do the same thing next week. It just comes down to execution and we just gotta make plays. When times call for players to make plays we didn’t.”

3. Naptimes at halftimes

Tech has now been outscored 58-30 in the third quarter this season.

Saturday, Bowling Green scored 21 straight before the Jackets finally answered just before the end of the period.

“I think it’s more so just mindset in the locker room at halftime,” Moala said. “There’s been times when we’ve been up and we’re a little too up. I think just finding that balance of trying to maintain a level head and remembering that at the half the score is zero-zero. And I think that’s an emphasis we need to make, put more to the forefront.”

4. Ground game issues on both sides

Tech went into Saturday’s matchup hoping it might be able to find some success with its offensive ground game. Instead, it was held to a season-low 69 yards. Quarterback Haynes King ran for 28 of those 69 yards, many coming on scrambles on designed passing plays.

“Where it comes down to, we got to make plays,” King said. “We didn’t have too many missed tackles, like making people miss offensively. Gotta catch 1-on-1 balls. When times come, you have to make plays at the end of the day. It’s the nature of the beast right there. Just gotta get better.”

Defensively, Tech gave up 175 yards on the ground and BGSU running back Terion Stewart bowled his way to a 138-yard game in 26 carries. The Jackets are now allowing 224.2 yards per game.

“That’s as big of an issue as there is. Being able to stop the run – if you can’t stop the run, you’re gonna have problems for the whole time,” Key said. “The clock will continue to get bled out like it did and maintain possession. Falling forward for numerous first downs and big plays. Another major area of concern, another major area that will be addressed.”

5. Jackets vow to bounce back

Key’s kids will need to bounce back in major way if they have any hope of making the postseason. At 2-3, Tech has to go at least 4-3 now over the next two months to earn itself a 13th game.

That’s a tall task with the next five contests being league matchups and the finale against No. 1-ranked Georgia. The Jackets travel to Miami (4-0, 1-0 ACC) on Saturday before an off week.

“I promise you don’t have to worry about me doing the right thing and getting this team ready to play,” Key said. “We weren’t ready obviously this week, or today, but the work won’t stop. The right way of doing things won’t stop. But the outcome has to be different.”


  • King’s 15 touchdown passes this season are the most in Tech season since Justin Thomas threw 18 in 2014.
  • King is now tied with Frank Broyles and Shawn Jones for the seventh-most TD passes in a single Tech season in program history.
  • Tech receiver Eric Singleton’s five touchdown receptions this season are the most for a Tech freshman in a single season since Ahmarean Brown caught seven in 2019.
  • Tech receiver Dominick Blaylock had 131 receiving yards Saturday, the most by a Yellow Jacket since DeAndre Smelter had 132 vs. Wofford on Aug. 30, 2014.
  • Tech scored on its first offensive play Saturday, the first time it had done that since Sept. 17, 2016, in a win over Vanderbilt.
  • Bowling Green’s 42:45 time of possession was the second-highest ever by a Georgia Tech opponent, trailing only Alabama’s 43:22 time of possession on Sept. 8, 1979.
  • The Falcons converted 10 third downs Saturday, the most Tech has allowed in a game since Notre Dame went 10-15 On Oct. 31, 2020.
  • Tech is now 1-1 all-time vs. Bowling Green.
  • Former Tech coach Bill Curry attended Saturday’s game and was honored on the field during the first quarter.
  • Attendance on Saturday was announced as 30,097 giving Tech an attendance average of 30,774 after two home games this season.