Offensive struggles and special teams errors, including two blocked punts, doomed Georgia Tech as the Yellow Jackets dropper their season opener at the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game to Clemson 41-10 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta September 5.
Clemson (1-0, 1-0 ACC) amassed 378 total yards of offense a game-high 229 yards from quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. Will Shipley had a team-high 42 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground for the Tigers as well.
Georgia Tech (0-1, 0-1 ACC) only had 238 yards of total offense an converted only two out of 16 third-down attempts stalling multiple drives. Jeff Sims threw for a team-high 163 yads and one touchdown while also having a team-high 42 rushing yards. The Yellow Jackets offensive line committed multiple false start penalties in the loss.
On the first offensive play from scrimmage in the contest, Sims’ pass was intercepted by Clemson safety Andrew Mukuba. The Yellow Jackets’ defense was able to hold strong and forced a Tigers’ punt.
Georgia Tech’s defense created the first turnover of the contest early in the first quarter when Ayinde Eley forced and recovered a fumble on a run by Uiagalelei.
On the subsequent possession, Georgia Tech converted a fourth and one in its own territory on a quarterback sneak by Sims for two yards. The drive ended with a punt.
Clemson had the first big play of the game on special teams. Carson Donnelly blocked Yellow Jackets’ punter David Shanahan’s attempt which was recovered by Brannon Spector and returned to the five-yard line. The Tigers were able to convert a fourth-and-one for their first score of the game with a one-yard touchdown run by Shipley.
Georgia Tech placekicker Jude Kelly missed a 50-yard field goal attempt on the team’s next possession.
Clemson increased its lead to 14-0 on a six-yard touchdown pass from Uiagalelei to Beaux Collins with 3:52 left in the first half.
Georgia Tech got on the board with 1:15 remaining in the first half on Kelly’s 45-yard field goal.
Clemson outgained Georgia Tech 145-130 in total yards in the first half. The Yellow Jackets had trouble on third downs only converting on one of eight attempts.
The Yellow Jackets’ defense forced a three-and-out on the Tigers’ first possession of the second half. One of those plays was a sack of Uiagalelei forcing an intentional grounding.
Georgia Tech converted a fourth-and-six on its next possession on Malik Rutherford’s 10-yard catch from Sims. The drive was completed with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Sims to EJ Jenkins at the 9:47 mark of the third quarter, cutting Clemson’s lead to 14-10.
BT Potter’s 29-yard field goal with 5:41 left in the third quarter increased the Tigers’ lead to 17-10.
After forcing the Yellow Jackets to punt, Clemson began to take control on its next possession culminating with a nine-yard quarterback keeper by Uiagalelei at the 1:18 mark of the third quarter, making the score 24-10. Potter’s 32-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter gave the Tigers the 27-10 lead.
Clemson blocked a punt of its own which led to a touchdown run by Shipley, his second of the night, making the score 34-10 at the 6:27 left in the fourth quarter.
Georgia Tech returns to action September 10 at home against Western Carolina.