Georgia Tech Football: Jackets hold off NC State in ACC finale

A strong first half from James Graham and Ahmarean Brown helped propel Georgia Tech Football to victory in their final game of ACC play against the NC State Wolfpack on Thursday night.

After taking a 21-3 lead in Thursday night’s game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets held off a second half push from the Wolfpack to hold on for a 28-26 victory.

The Jackets offense set the tempo early in the game and it all started when quarterback James Graham and the Jackets set the tempo early taking a massive shot down the field on the first play of the game for 54 yards to Malachi Carter and culminating in Ahmarean Brown catching his first touchdown pass of the night.

It was a strong first drive for the Yellow Jackets and the beginning of a quality night for Graham. Despite completing just 7-of-15 passing attempts, Graham passed for 129-yards and three touchdowns. It’s not flashy numbers by any means but it was a much better result than last week’s performance against Virginia Tech. Add in Graham’s 112-yards on the ground and he put together possibly his best performance of the season.

Graham wasn’t the only Jacket to have a great night offensively as Jordan Mason got back into his groove and rushed for 141-yards against the Wolfpack on 22 carries.

The defense also showed up in a big way early stopping the Wolfpack early on 4th and 2 in a prime scoring position. The Jackets would use a muffed punt just before halftime to bring together James Graham and Ahmarean Brown for an 11-yard connection on a perfect pass for his second touchdown of the night. That touchdown was also his 7th receiving score of the year and tied the freshman scoring record set by Calvin Johnson. He’ll have the opportunity to break the record next week against Georgia.

NC State did manage to string together several long drives in the first half including one that topped out at 18 plays and eating 8 and a half minutes of clock before settling for a field goal. That was the story of the night for NC State, for the most part, being able to sustain drives but not quite finishing them where it counted at least not in the early part of the game.

The second half was their bread and butter with the Wolfpack holding the Jackets offense to just one score in the second half.  NC State began picking up chunk plays ultimately scoring and bringing the score to 28-26. They would miss the 2-point conversion as Christian Campbell was bearing down on the NC State quarterback Devin Leary. Georgia Tech would maintain its two-point lead heading into the final minutes and ultimately was able to hold on for the win.

The story of the game was certainly how depleted both teams were due to injuries and for NC State, especially in the secondary, it showed. James Graham was taking shots early and often and showed out with his legs as well using the aggressiveness of NC States pass defense against them to attack the holes that the coverage gave him.

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Georgia Tech will finish its season at Bobby Dodd Stadium the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the annual match-up of “Clean Old Fashioned Hate” at noon on ABC.

 

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