Georgia Tech began its ACC title defense on a high note Saturday, as the 16th-ranked Yellow Jackets beat visiting South Carolina State 41-10.
The season-opening win puts the Yellow Jackets at 1-0 as they enter another non-conference showdown next week when they travel to Kansas. It will mark the farthest trip west they have made since the 2007 Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho.
Senior quarterback Joshua Nesbitt was the big difference-maker on offense, as he tied a career-high by rushing for three touchdowns before being taken out with nearly two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Given the rest of the afternoon off, he was replaced by backup Tevin Washington, who also ran for a score.
Nesbitt additionally rushed for 130 yards, coming just shy of the 2,200-yard plateau for his career.
Georgia Tech’s Heisman Trophy hopeful, Nesbitt was helped by junior A-back Roddy Jones, who accounted for the Yellow Jackets’ other two scores. On two red zone opportunities, Jones sprinted in for respective 1-yard and 15-yard scores.
Defensively, Georgia Tech unveiled its new 3-4 scheme, but not before running into early issues with it.
On South Carolina State’s first series, the Yellow Jackets allowed a 28-yard field goal after letting the Bulldogs march 58 yards on a 17-play drive. The telling play of the series was a 32-yard first-down run by tailback Chris Massey that brought the Bulldogs storming downfield.
From there, the Yellow Jackets would rebound. By halftime, the defense went on to force South Carolina State into a pair of three-and-outs.
Off the field, the contest had historical implications, as the Yellow Jackets faced an historically black college football program for the first time in their 118-year playing history.
For FCS-contending South Carolina State, it was the fifth time the Bulldogs had played a BCS-level program. In previous seasons, they played South Carolina (twice), Clemson and Air Force.