ATLANTA After three quarters in Saturday’s game against Maryland, No. 13 Georgia Tech had a seemingly comfortable, 21-3 lead. Little did the Yellow Jackets know, they would need their defense to survive and stay unbeaten. Tech stopped the visiting Terps on a fourth-and-eight with less than three minutes to play to help preserve a 21-16 win at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Georgia Tech, ranked No. 13 in the Associated Press Top 25, is off to the program’s first 6-0 start since 1966.
Tech, which moved to 3-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, had a comfortable, 21-3 lead heading into the final quarter. After stopping Tech a yard short on fourth-and-11, quarterback C.J. Wilson, who replaced struggling starter Danny O’Brien, exploded for a 77-yard touchdown on the ensuing play to get the visiting Terps to within 21-10. Maryland (2-3) took advantage of excellent field position to go nine plays in three minutes, getting Davin Meggett’s one-yard touchdown run to make it 21-16.
“As I say every week, 21 is more than 16 so that is what is important,” said Tech coach Paul Johnson. “I thought that defensively, other than a couple of plays, one in the first and one in the second, we really played well.”
It took Tech less than five minutes to get the first points of the game. On third-and-five, quarterback Tevin Washington scored from seven yards on a sneak to put the Yellow Jackets up 7-0 with 10:26 to play in the opening quarter.
The Yellow Jackets used a short field to take an 11-point lead midway through the second quarter. Following a 26-yard punt return by Zach Laskey that got Tech to the Maryland 33, Orwin Smith took the seventh play of the drive and scored from 10 yards out to make it a 14-3 game.
But the offense, which came into the game second in the nation in total offense and scoring offense, struggled for the first time in 2011. Tech had two chances to add to its lead late in the first half, but one drive stalled when Justin Moore missed a 34-yard field goal and Washington was intercepted in the Maryland end zone right before halftime.
“Offensively we struggled, never got any continuity,” Johnson said. “It was a myriad of things, and we will have to watch the tape, but we didn't do very many good things today.”
Tony Zenon returned the second half kick off 79 yards to the Maryland 17 and Washington, who rushed for a team-high 120 yards, later scored from the three to push the lead up to 21-3. That was the last points Tech would score.
“Overall, I think offensively we came out flat in the second half,” said Washington. “It's just some things we've got to get better at this week and make sure we stay focused, and make sure that we pay attention to detail this week to those little things that gave us trouble this game.”
Tech will try to improve to 7-0 when it continues ACC play in Charlottesville next weekend against Virginia. Maryland hosts No. 8 Clemson.