Tech hits the road for the first time this season Saturday when it plays at Ole Miss (2-0) at 7:30 p.m.
“Challenged the guys during the week in a lot of areas, challenged them to play a complete game. There’s a lot of things to clean up like there is every week,” Tech coach Brent Key said. “We’re talking about playing to our standard and doing what we do. That’s individually to play for four quarters, then collectively play for four quarters and put a product on the field, a product on tape, that we can go back and look at and say, ‘This is how we were supposed to do this. This is how we’re supposed to play the game. This is how we’re supposed to play when we come out from halftime. This is how we’re not supposed to get caught up in the ebbs and flows of the game. Play to the standard. Play one play at a time.’
“The challenge this week was, ‘You got to forget about the last play. That play is done. It’s over.’ But not just the bad plays, you got to forget about the good plays. That was the challenge this week.”
After a two-hour-and-23-minute delay because of inclement weather, Saturday’s game kicked off just before 3:30 p.m. Two plays later, Tech defensive end Kyle Kennard jumped up and picked off a pass he returned to the S.C. State 15.
Haynes, who got the start at running back, then scored his first career rushing touchdown, going in from the 4 to make the score 7-0 Jackets 2-1/2 minutes into the game.
“It was actually a play we prepared for all week,” Kennard said of his interception. “We had a play we designed for that all week. It was a screen, and sure enough it opened up, and I saw the quarterback lift his hand off the ball and was like, ‘Is he really about to throw this?’ He threw it.”
Tech’s next score came courtesy of Dominick Blaylock. The Georgia transfer caught a 3-yard toss from King at the 8:22 mark, capping a seven-play, 60-yard drive, for his first score as a Jacket.
Midway through the second quarter King connected with Eric Singleton Jr. on a 40-yard deep ball down the left side of the field for a touchdown. That put Tech up 21-0 with 8:30 left in the half.
Tech looked in position to add to that lead before halftime, but Gavin Stewart missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt, his third miss in as many tries this season, and the Bulldogs took advantage. Kacy Fields’ 1-yard run completed an 8-yard drive over 70 yards and got S.C. State on the board.
Jaylon King blocked the extra-point attempt, allowing the Jackets to lead 21-6 with 34 seconds on the clock.
That turned out to be too much time for the Jackets.
Haynes broke the next play from scrimmage for a 67-yard run down to the 8. Haynes King found tight end Brett Seither on a touchdown pass from there, giving the Jackets a 28-6 lead.
“This week we honed in, and we preached about execution,” King said. “Looking back (the first game) with Louisville, what stopped us is ourselves, execution. So we honed in on it, we preached it every day, every rep and showed out this week. We still left some stuff out there. The drives that we didn’t finish, it was up to us. Lack of execution right there.”
King and the Jackets wasted little time getting back to work in the second half. The third quarter’s first play from scrimmage was a swing pass to Cooley that went for a 55-yard touchdown, making the score 35-6 only 12 seconds into the quarter.
After an Andre Washington rushing touchdown from the 1 got the Bulldogs back within 35-13, Tech answered with a 30-yard field goal by Aidan Birr with 9:22 left in the period. Cooley would score again, this time on a 15-yard run before the end of the third quarter, making the score 45-13.
Birr added a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that provided the final margin.
South Carolina State (0-3) got 54 yards rushing from Washington and finished with 196 yards on the ground.