Of course, it helped to be playing one of the nation’s worst teams.
Tevin Washington ran for two touchdowns and backup quarterback Vad Lee also accounted for two scores, leading the Yellow Jackets to a 37-17 victory over Boston College on Saturday.
Georgia Tech (3-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) snapped a three-game losing streak in its first contest since firing defensive coordinator Al Groh.
“We’re 1-0 right now,” linebacker Quayshawn Neely said. “We’re not even thinking about the losses.”
Losing is about all Boston College (1-6, 0-4) can think about. The Eagles dropped their fifth in a row and have yet to beat a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent, keeping the heat on embattled coach Frank Spaziani.
“As the sand goes out of the hourglass, there are some games left,” Spaziani said. “We’re not that far away, but we’re miles away.”
Georgia Tech built a 31-3 lead by early in the third quarter. Chase Rettig threw two touchdown passes to give the Eagles a glimmer of hope, but this was essentially total domination by the home team.
The Yellow Jackets finished with 563 yards – 407 in the first half – and played keep-away from Boston College, running a season-high 91 plays and holding the ball for a staggering 43 minutes, 37 seconds. School officials said it was the most time of possession by the Yellow Jackets since at least 1975.
“It’s nice to be back on the right side of the scoreboard again,” coach Paul Johnson said.
The staggering advantage in time of possession sure helped out the defense, which had surrendered more than 40 points in each of the past three losses – the first such stretch in school history. Johnson finally got fed up, firing Groh heading into an off week and promoting Charles Kelly to interim coordinator, with explicit orders to simplify the scheme.
The Yellow Jackets surrendered 296 yards, their lowest total against an FBS opponent this season, and held Boston College to 1 of 9 on third-down conversions, one of the major weaknesses under Groh.
“We didn’t have to think about a lot of things,” Neely said. “We could just go play. There were not a lot of calls. It was pretty basic. It just came down to the players.”
With Boston College intent on keeping Georgia Tech’s option game from running outside, Zach Laskey kept bulling up the middle and finished with 101 yards, the second 100-yard game of his career. He wasn’t able to finish, going out with a shoulder injury after an Eagles defender crashed into him helmet-first.
The only other sour note for Georgia Tech was a hideous display of kicking. David Scully’s first field goal attempt from 22 yards was blocked, then he hooked one wide left from 28 yards. Johnson switched kickers, and Justin Moore connected on a 32-yarder. But Moore missed a 41-yard try, then botched an extra point.
“Our kicking game was a mess,” Johnson moaned. “I have to look at it and see what to do, but we left 10 points out there. You have to make those kicks. We did enough on special teams to lose against a bigger team.
Not Boston College. Georgia Tech set the tone on its first possession, driving 89 yards in 10 plays before Connor Wujciak got a hand on Scully’s field goal attempt, which only delayed the inevitable.
The Yellow Jackets got it back and quickly drove 90 yards in 13 plays, capped by Washington’s 12-yard touchdown run.
After Boston College went three-and-out, Georgia Tech took it 63 yards in 11 plays. Again, it was Washington capping the drive, powering over for a 1-yard score to make it 14-0.
Washington finished with 17 carries for 82 yards and went over 2,000 yards rushing in his career, joining Joshua Nesbitt as the only players in school history with 2,000 yards rushing and 2,500 yards passing.
The Eagles finally put together some offense after Washington’s second TD, setting up Nate Freese’s 25-yard field goal.
But Georgia Tech took the ensuing kickoff and got right back to work, sparked by Jamal Golden’s 36-yard return. Changing up at quarterback, the Yellow Jackets sent in Lee to spell Washington. The redshirt freshman took advantage of his opportunity, breaking off a 24-yard touchdown run that included a couple of nifty moves right at the goal line.
Boston College went 19 yards the wrong way on its next possession. A shotgun snap sailed far over Rettig’s head, forcing the quarterback to fall on it, and Andre Williams lost 2 more yards on a fumble that was recovered by the Eagles.
After punting it away again, they quickly gave up Lee’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Autry.
Rettig was 19 of 31 for 264 yards, including touchdown passes of 40 yards to Alex Amidon and 12 yards to Chris Pantale. The Eagles closed the margin to 31-17, but their last hope ended on a roughing-the-punter penalty.
“Inexcusable,” Spaziani said.
David Sims tacked on a 7-yard touchdown run for the Yellow Jackets.