Georgia Tech 38, Mississippi State 7

Mississippi State won the toss and chose to defer, and to put the defense afield first. The group stayed there five ticks over five minutes as Georgia Tech gained ground on all 11 snaps and scored on the opening series.

After moving the chains twice, quarterback Josh Nesbitt called his own number on a keeper, broke a hand-tackle, and scampered for 21 yards to the Bulldog 25. It was an expensive gain as Nesbitt hurt a hamstring on the tackle. Greg Smith made it first-and-goal at the seven-yard line with his 15-yard burst, then a quick pitch let Embry Peeples get to the left pylon at 9:55.

State should have evened it up on the ensuing kickoff, as only teammate Terrell Johnson's inadvertent ‘tackle' kept Derek Pegues from going the distance. As it was State started on their 30 and a third-down throw to Brandon McRae got one first down at the 48-yard line. But on the next snap center J. C. Brignone hiked it over QB Wes Carroll's helmet, and Tech fell on the fumble at State's 40.

Replacement Jacket quarterback Jaybo Shaw showed poise as with blitzing LB K.J. Wright in his face he found Dwyer at the 30. The back not only pulled in the low throw but went against the grain for 15 more yards down to State's 20. And after a five-yard loss, Shaw again got a rushed throw off that Demaryius Thomas—getting away from CB Tay Bowser--somehow circled back for a diving end-zone grab that withstood review. The kick made it a 14-0 lead at 6:06.

The frustration was only beginning. On first down Dixon rumbled 71 yards, an ankle-grab around the 15 slowing him just enough that Morgan Burnett was able to drag him down at Tech's nine-yard line. Tired from the long haul, Dixon couldn't quite turn the corner on the pitch-left and settled for four yards. Then the Jacket jumped the line as Robert Elliot was stopped inside the one-yard line. That close, State took the play for 3rd-and-goal.

Dixon was setting up for a vault of the line, but Tech had enough surge in the middle he couldn't get his feet set and was dropped. Now two yards away State opted to kick for points, but Adam Carlson's chip shot was deflected at the line by Michael Johnson.

Georgia Tech made one first down before punting with State taking over at their 32-yard line. With completions to Smith netting a pair of first downs the Dogs got to Tech's 38-yardline with 3rd-and-2. Elliot fell forward for one and State went for it. Dixon started left, saw his lane closed and froze. By the time he got going it was backwards for a seven-yard loss.

Starting from their 46, the Jackets needed eight plays to build their margin. And this score hurt more than the others because it came on 4th-and-1 at the 25-yard line. Shaw didn't see any pitch but did find a huge seam at left tackle and cut in, going untouched 25 yards for the 21-0 lead at 7:55.

And things could have been even worse as on first down Carroll's high throw went off McRae's hands for an interception by Jahi Word-Daniels. Georgia Tech was already in field goal range at the 27-yard line, but lost ground with a sack by Wright and punted.

The Bulldogs began their best true drive of the half from the 18-yard line, getting as far as Tech's seven-yard line. Dixon this time crashed at the line in short-yardage and got it for one first down; a flip to FB Eric Hoskins netted another, as did throws to Elliot (11 yards) and Aubrey Bell (13). State also got a free first-and-goal at the ten as on third down WR Co-Eric Riley was hit too early. A rushed throw to Bell made it second down at the seven with 0:40 on the clock.

With State not huddling, OG Craig Jenkins jumped the snap for loss of five yards. And, 11 seconds as the clock re-started and it wasn't until 0:29 time was called. And OT Quentin Saulsberry moved before the next snap, for 2nd-and-16. Maybe more cautious, Saulsberry got whipped by defensive end Michael Johnson who hit Carroll as he threw.

With third down at the 17 Carroll got some time but his throw down the middle for TE Brandon Henderson in traffic was intercepted by Burnett at the goal line.

A short second-half kickoff had State opening from the 32. Carroll found McRae for 18 yards and Dixon darted for another first down before the series stopped on 4th-and-5 at the 33. State lined up as if to kick a 51-yard field goal but Carlson punted it instead, out at Tech's 12.

Which meant Dwyer had to run all of 88 yards for his instant touchdown and the longest rush in school history. With Pegues locked-up out on the corner Dwyer cut inside his blocker and needed only make one move, at MSU's 30, to push the lead to 28-0 at 11:27. And State's DT Jessie Bowman earned a personal foul on the PAT.

Tech got the ball back after a 44-yard Blake McAdams punt, and Dwyer instantly changed ends of the field with a 37-yard dash compounded by a roughing call on the tackle. Shaw kept for a dozen, and if not for a chop block would have scored from two yards out. The penalty ultimately meant settling for a 29-yard field goal by Scott Blair at 7:09.

Tyson Lee had replaced Carroll the previous two series with no improvement. His third turn went somewhat better, with Tech having changed out much of their defensive lineup. Elliot had his first real running room as a freshman and got 15 yards to start the drive, and Lee hooked up with HB Christian Ducre for a 24 yard gainer to Tech's 16. On third down Lee should have been sacked but escaped, scrambled, rambled, and finally found Ducre open on the far left side. The back made the catch and struggled to within a yard of the marker. The quarter ended before State could make the fourth-down snap. On the other end of the field Lee tried to roll and throw; nobody was open and he ran out of time six yards behind the line.

The Jacket offense wasn't calling it a day quite yet, going 87 yards in eight plays. The big one was with Shaw unloading a pitch while falling in a Dog's grip. The quarterback had drawn all attention so when Greg Smith pulled in the flip there was nobody between him and the goal 45 yards away.

Tech was kicking off to Pegues again, and he returned a yard across midfield for State's best starting spot of the day. Lee took advantage, completing passes to McRae for eight and 14 yards and to Elliot for 13 more. On first and goal at the six Elliot turned a delay handoff into his first college touchdown, at 8:09. So at least the otherwise dismal-day wouldn't include a road shutout.

The Jackets used the remainder of the fourth quarter to work other folk in live situations, including quarterbacks Calvin Booker and Bryce Dykes on the same long series that ate up five and a half minutes. But State used its timeouts, to the displeasure of the lingering home folk, so when kicker Mohamed Yahiaoui's field goal clanked off the left upright there was 2:39 left for Lee to get something done. He almost did, hitting Elliot for a 12-yard gain and Smith for 15 more on the only fourth down the Dogs converted all day; a 4th-and-15 no less. Inside a minute Smith came down with a 23-yard catch at the seven-yard line.

It didn't matter because Lee was lucky to have an incomplete pass and not a fumble called on first down; his throw to HB Wade Bonner got just six of the necessary seven yards but did end up out-of-bounds to stop the clock; and a shot into the end zone literally smacked TE Nelson Hurst in the seat of his pants. With yet another 4th-and-1, Lee scrambled around before taking a 13-yard sack.

When all the numbers were tallied, Tech came away with exactly 500 yards on 63 snaps. The Bulldogs had some stats of their own, 407 yards and an amazing—win or lose—80 offensive hikes. But of course the Jackets were far more efficient in their turns, and owned a whopping 460 to 151 advantage in rushing. Dwyer led the list with 141 yards on just nine carries, a 15.7 average gain…yet Smith was even better at 20.7 yards averaged on his three totes. Jacket quarterbacks threw only nine passes all day, completing four for 62 yards with a sole sacking.

Dixon's dance on one fourth down cost him his first 100-yard outing since last October; he ended up with 94 net yards on 13 carries despite a still-sore groin. Elliot got 36 yards on nine rushes. Carroll was 14-of-22 passing for 120 yards; Lee 17-of-27 for 179 and three sacks. McRae had his big day to-date with ten catches and 102 yards for State, one of nine Dogs to catch a pass.

Safeties Glanton and Pegues tied with linebacker Wright for the tackles lead, all getting credit for six stops. Reserve LB Bo Walters had the only sack, in the fourth quarter for loss of a yard.

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