ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech got a confidence booster for its maligned defense and some playing time for its reserves in a 42-7 victory over New Mexico State on Saturday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
One week after allowing 491 yards in a 41-31 loss to Boston College, Tech's defense forced five turnovers, including a fumble by quarterback Ty Houghtaling that was returned 25 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Delaunta Cameron in the second quarter.
Tech was favored by 31 points over the Aggies of the Big West Conference, who went 2-9 last year and lost their opener to Texas 66-36.
An interception by Cameron in the second quarter set up a 24-yard touchdown pass from Joe Hamilton to Dez white, and interceptions by redshirt freshman linebacker Matt Uremovich in the second quarter and safety Travares Tillman in the third stopped NMSU drives deep in Tech territory.
After Tillman's interception, which was deflected into his hands by intended receiver A.T. Holloway near the goal line, Tech drove 98 yards, scoring on a 14-yard run by Charles Wiley to take a 35-7 lead with 13:05 left in the game.
A fumble recovery by safety Brian Wilkins at the NMSU 3-yard line with 1:40 left did not result in a score.
Wiley also scored touchdowns in the first half on runs of 2 and 1 yards.
A 69-yard punt return by Charlie Rogers following NMSU's first possession set up Tech's first touchdown, a 2-yard run up middle by Wiley.
After NMSU was stopped on a fourth-and-3 from the Tech 38, Hamilton hit flanker David Powell for 30 yards on a third-and-13 from the Jackets' 35, and Wiley scored from the 1 six plays later.
Cameron's fumble return, made possible when defensive end Jessie Tarplin hit Houghtaling 16 yards behind the line of scrimmage and jarred the ball loose, put the Jackets up 21-0 with 11:38 left in the half.
Only 1:10 later, it was 28-0 after Cameron's interception at the Aggies 34 and 7-yard return set up Hamilton's TD pass to White.
NMSU scored in the third quarter on a 2-yard pass from Houghaling to fullback Joey Dozier, cutting Tech's lead to 28-7.
Tech's final touchdown came on a 13-yard run by freshman Joe Burns with 3:10 remaining, making the score 42-7.
Tech had some changes in its starting defensive lineup. Uremovich started for Justin Robertson at outside linebacker, Tony Robinson started at tackle and Stimson played end rather than tackle.
The game marked the first meeting between Tech and NMSU in any sport. It was also NMSU's first football game against an ACC opponent.
For the second week in a row, preseason All-American punter Rodney Williams had a kickoff go out of bounds. This time the mistake gave allowed NMSU to start its first possession of the second half on its 35-yard line.