Georgia Tech’s players said Georgia tried frequently to strip the ball from them during the 42-34 loss, more than any opponent has tried to do so this season.
The Yellow Jackets lost three fumbles, including two inside Georgia’s 20-yard line, which the Bulldogs converted into 21 points.
“If we don’t put the ball on the ground, I don’t know if they ever stop us,” coach Paul Johnson said.
The Yellow Jackets ran 92 plays (its most since 2000) and totaled 512 yards in offense (411 rushing), but couldn’t overcome the fumbles as well as an interception.
A-back Embry Peeples said the defenders weren’t trying to tackle on first contact. The first to arrive would hold up the ball-carrier while more would come in and try to take away the ball.
The last fumble occurred when Tevin Washington tried to pitch the ball at the 21-yard line. Linebacker Akeem Dent hit Roddy Jones as the pitch arrived, causing him to lose the ball. Justin Houston scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown to give Georgia a 35-21 lead with 16 seconds left in the third quarter.
“It’s a pitch that’s got to be caught. It hit my hands,” said Jones, who carried the ball nine times for 63 yards and a touchdown. He has more than 300 yards rushing in three games against the Bulldogs.
Tech’s first two turnovers happened inside Georgia’s 20-yard line. Orwin Smith dropped a pitch in the first quarter that Georgia recovered on the 5-yard line. The second occurred when Jones was stripped of the ball inside the 15-yard line in the third quarter. After a scramble, Georgia picked it up on the 36-yard line.
“They did a good job of getting their hands in their and their helmets and poking the ball away,” Jones said. “It’s just the little things like that that got us beat today.”