King and the offense had another solid night, although their 380 yards of total offense and 158 yards of rushing were both season lows. Jamal Haynes’ 26-yard touchdown run gave the Jackets their final score and Tech a third game of at least 30 points this season.
Tech has scored 135 points in four games, its highest total since scoring 146 in the first four games of 2017.
The defense was the true stars Saturday. That unit forced five turnovers, recorded eight sacks, made 10 tackles for loss and broke up five passes. Tech made two fourth-down stops as well.
On special teams, freshman running back Chad Alexander recovered a muffed punt and freshman kicker Aidan Birr made two field goals and two extra points. Key often speaks about playing complementary football and his team made great strides toward doing that Saturday.
“There was ups and downs on both sides of the football and you’ve got to be able to have each other’s back,” he said. “You can’t rely on one side of the ball or one unit to be the one that produces. When you do that it becomes a hard game to play, a hard game to manage. It’s good when you have a negative series by one side of the ball and the other one can answer and get ‘em out of it.”
A win for Tech this Saturday would give it three wins in September, the first time that has happened since 2017. The Jackets would be halfway to becoming bowl eligible and have a winning record before going on the road to play a ranked Miami team Oct. 7.
“The records are what they are, really. Yeah, it’s great to be on one side of it than the other, but we’re gonna stick true to what we’re doing and we’re gonna stick true to how we’re preparing,” Key said. “We’re gonna stick true to how we’re preparing. We’re gonna stick true to being truthful with the kids, being truthful with each other, being able to look ourselves in the mirror and self-assess and admit when things aren’t right and aren’t the right way. That’s the only way to build a program and build it in the right way.”
Saturday’s matchup with BGSU is the trappiest of trap games for the Jackets. Tech is a three-touchdown favorite over a Falcons squad that lost 38-7 at home Saturday in its conference opener against Ohio.
Bowling Green (1-3) has been held to 37 combined points in its three losses to Liberty, Michigan and Ohio, respectively. Coach Scot Loeffler’s team, so far, is one of the nation’s worst on third downs, has thrown nine interceptions and turned the ball over 12 times.
But the Falcons also started 1-3 in 2022 before rallying down the stretch to make the Quick Lane Bowl.
And a bowl game is exactly where Tech is trying to go this season. Victory on Saturday would be another crucial step toward that endeavor.
“It is one day at a time, it is one game at a time, we treat every game as a season in and of itself,” Key said. “That’s the biggest challenge when you’re dealing with 18 to 22, 23 year-old young men. But it’s not just them, it’s coaches as well and us as adults. We don’t wanna live in the past or the future and want to stay in the mindset of staying one play at a time and playing for 60 minutes.”
- According to Pro Football Focus, wide receiver Abdul Janneh (offense) and linebacker Andre White (defense) were Tech’s highest-graded players in Saturday’s win at Wake.
- The Jackets held the Demon Deacons to 16 points Saturday, their fewest since losing 37-13 to Clemson on Sept. 12, 2020.
- Tech’s five takeaways Saturday at Wake were its most since five against Duke on Nov. 28, 2020.
- King ranks ninth nationally with 11 touchdown passes, 13th with 320 yards of total offense per game and 18 points responsible for per game, 16th with 284 passing yards per game and 18th with 1,132 passing yards.
- Haynes ranks 30th nationally in both all-purpose yards per game (119.25) and rushing yards (331) and 33rd with 82.8 rushing yards per game.
- Tech ranks eighth nationally in sacks allowed (3), 15th on converting third down (51.4%), 17th in total offense (480 yards per game), 20th in takeaways (8), 24th in passing offense (288 yards per game) and fewest penalties (19) and 31st in passing efficiency (158.57).
- The Jackets rank 128th nationally in rush defense (236.5 yards allowed per game), 115th in total defense (425.2 yards allowed per game), 114th in tackles for loss (4.2 per game), 113th in red zone defense (93.3%), 99th in scoring defense (29 points allowed per game), 92nd having allowed 83 first downs and 91st in red zone offense (77.8%).
- Tech’s 12 opponents are now a combined 31-17. Tech’s two wins have come against teams currently 4-4, its two losses against teams a combined 7-1 and its remaining eight games are against teams that are a combined 20-12.
- The Jackets opened as 20½-point favorites this week.