Dec 22, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; UCF Knights quarterback John Rhys Plumlee (10) runs the ball around Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back Clayton Powell-Lee (5) during the first half of the Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Gasparilla Bowl: Haynes King helps Georgia Tech knock off UCF

Haynes King threw for a touchdown and rushed for another to lift Georgia Tech to a 30-17 victory over UCF on Friday in the Gasparilla Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Jamal Haynes rushed for a career-high 128 yards and King added 89 for the Yellow Jackets (7-6), who rolled up for 284 yards on the ground. Dontae Smith also rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown as Georgia Tech overcame an early 14-point deficit en route to recording its fourth win in six outings.

Aidan Birr drilled field goals of 36, 29 and 38 yards for the Yellow Jackets.

UCF’s John Rhys Plumlee completed 16 of 29 passes for 198 yards and tossed a scoring strike to both Javon Baker and Kobe Hudson. Baker had nine catches for 173 yards and RJ Harvey rushed for 120 yards for the Knights (6-7), who have lost seven of their last 10 games.

UCF bolted out of the blocks as Plumlee connected on a pair of touchdown passes to give his team an early 14-0 lead. Baker reeled in a 23-yard pass from Plumlee to cap the opening drive and Hudson added a 17-yard reception to complete a 10-play, 98-yard drive with 6:26 remaining in the first quarter.

The teams traded field goals before King ignited a pair of scoring drives to allow Georgia Tech to forge a 17-17 tie at halftime. King scored from 5 yards out with 4:23 to play in the second quarter for his 10th rushing touchdown of the season. He then connected on an inside post with Malik Rutherford, who gained a step on two defenders and reeled in a 41-yard touchdown pass.

Birr drilled a 29-yard field goal to give the Yellow Jackets their first lead of the contest at 20-17 with 12:07 remaining in the third quarter.

Georgia Tech relied on its ground attack on its next scoring drive. The Yellow Jackets ran the ball on 12 of 13 plays, capped by Smith’s 1-yard touchdown to take a 27-17 lead with 13:37 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Birr made his third field goal with 4:52 to play in the fourth quarter and UCF turned the ball over on downs on its ensuing possession and tossed an interception on its final offensive play.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; West Point, New York, USA; Boston College Eagles quarterback Thomas Castellanos (1) carries the ball against the Army Black Knights during the second half at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College, Georgia Tech come off bye weeks with momentum

Georgia Tech benefited from an egregious error by its opponent to rally to an improbable victory in its last game.

Fresh off a bye week, the Yellow Jackets (3-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) look to ratchet up the intensity in their return to the gridiron for a clash versus Boston College (3-3, 1-2) on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.

Haynes King recorded his sixth multi-touchdown performance after passing for one score and rushing for another in Georgia Tech’s last-second 23-20 win over then-No. 17 Miami on Oct. 7.

While pleased with the result, Yellow Jackets coach Brent Key maintained Tuesday that he is looking ahead — not behind.

“We played for 60 minutes in the last game, but what’s your identity? Your identity is not what you did prior, it’s what you do next and how you can consistently do that,” Key said. “That’s why I talked to the team this week about having a work ethic versus a want ethic. Everyone wants to go do it, but we’ve got to put the work in during the week and then have the right frame of mind and the right mindset that we take the field with.”

Converted wideout Jamal Haynes leads Georgia Tech in rushing (409 yards) and averages a robust 5.7 yards per carry. He also has 12 catches for 112 yards.

Like the Yellow Jackets, Boston College is fresh off its bye week. The Eagles enter Saturday’s contest after posting 27-24 wins over both Virginia (Sept. 30) and Army (Oct. 7).

Sophomore Thomas Castellanos threw for two touchdowns versus the Cavaliers and rushed for four more against the Black Knights to give Boston College its longest winning streak since 2021.

“You have to imagine now teams are going to have to bring an extra guy in the box when you have a quarterback who can run the way he has run,” Eagles coach Jeff Hafley said. “But it’s not like we are playing wildcat. He can throw the ball.

“He can throw it from in the pocket, he can throw it on boot(leg)-type plays and he can sprint out. If you bring guys up, we have guys that can run by you. I think you are going to see him take off throwing the ball in the next weeks.”

Castellanos, a transfer from UCF and native of Waycross, Ga., leads the team in rushing (500 yards) and has seven scores on the ground.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Auburn, Alabama, USA;  Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Haynes King (13) warms up before the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M transfer Haynes King wins Georgia Tech QB job

Georgia Tech coach Brent Key named Texas A&M transfer Haynes King the Yellow Jackets’ starting quarterback for the 2023 season on Tuesday.

King was competing with redshirt freshman Zach Pyron for the role.

“There are going to be points in time this year when those quarterbacks will all play,” Key told reporters Tuesday, “but for now, Haynes King is the starter and we are looking forward to moving on.”

King came to the Atlantic Coast Conference after a few difficult years in the Southeastern Conference with Texas A&M. He opened the 2021 season as the Aggies’ starting quarterback but suffered a broken leg in their second game of the year, sitting the rest of the way behind Zach Calzada.

It was King’s job again to start the 2022 season, but he was benched after two games as Max Johnson and Conner Weigman shared quarterback reps moving forward.

“I’m not putting (King) on a short leash,” Key said. “I don’t want the starting quarterback to go out there and feel like if he makes one mistake he is going to get yanked. That is not the world we are living in. Both guys will have to be prepared. We can win with both players.”

King has three years of eligibility remaining after retaining his “COVID year” of eligibility from 2020.

Last year, King threw for 1,220 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions while completing just 55.6 percent of his throws across six games.

Georgia Tech will host conference foe Louisville on Sept. 1 to open the season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Brent Key on the field before a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Georgia Tech to remove interim tag of coach Brent Key

Georgia Tech is finalizing a deal to make interim coach Brent Key the program’s full-time head coach, multiple reports indicated Tuesday.

Key, the program’s assistant head coach, offensive line coach and run game coordinator, was given the interim coach title in September after Georgia Tech fired Geoff Collins amid a 1-3 start.

The Yellow Jackets went 4-4 under Key on their way to finishing 5-7 (4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), including a 21-17 upset of then-No. 13 North Carolina on Nov. 19.

Key, 44, is a Georgia Tech alumnus who played right guard for the program from 1997-2000.

“I’m an alumni from here,” Key told ESPN in October. “I really hold this place in super high regard for the lessons that I learned. But this is not one bit about trying to get a job. This is about doing a great job with the job that we have.”

Georgia Tech vetted a number of external candidates, but ESPN reported that the school’s reluctance to guarantee enough money in the contract turned some candidates off.

Tulane coach Willie Fritz was reported to be among the candidates the Yellow Jackets were interested in. Earlier Tuesday, Tulane announced that Fritz informed the school he was staying put.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Zach Pyron (14) throws a pass against the Miami Hurricanes in the first quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech QB Zach Pyron (clavicle) out for season

Georgia Tech quarterback Zach Pyron will miss the rest of the season after sustaining a broken clavicle during last weekend’s 35-14 loss to Miami.

Pyron fell hard on his left shoulder after running for 19 yards late in the third quarter. He was intercepted on the following play and didn’t return to the contest.

Pyron completed 12 of 22 passes for 114 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and also rushed for 66 yards against Miami in his second career start. He completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 565 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in three games.

The Yellow Jackets previously lost starter Jeff Sims to a foot injury against Virginia on Oct. 20. The party line was that Sims was available in an emergency, but now with Georgia Tech in dire need, coach Brent Key says Sims is unavailable.

“In regards to Jeff, Jeff won’t be with the football team, really kind of indefinitely now,” Key said in Tuesday’s press conference. “We had meetings with Jeff and meetings with the doctors and the medical professionals and came to the determination that it would be best for Jeff to not be in meetings or not be in practice, but to be in treatment and in rehab right now moving forward.

“Decisions that are made are, like we have said since Day One, made in the best interest of the team and Georgia Tech and for the health and safety of our players.”

Sims passed for 1,115 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions in seven games this season.

Zach Gibson finished up against the Hurricanes and is 25-for-51 passing for 224 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions this season. Gibson started a 41-16 loss to Florida State on Oct. 29 and was 2-of-3 passing for 0 yards before being replaced by Pyron.

Georgia Tech (4-6, 3-4 ACC) visits No. 13 North Carolina on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Florida State Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State scuffling but is big favorite against Georgia Tech

After a bye week and mired in a three-game losing streak, Florida State will be healthy and ready to get back to work in the Atlantic Coast Conference when it hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Seminoles (4-3, 2-3), who have lost to three ranked teams by a combined 18 points, have dropped two straight to Georgia Tech (3-4, 2-2). The last one, a 16-13 home defeat in 2020, featured the collegiate debut of Yellow Jackets quarterback Jeff Sims, a former FSU commit who may not play this week due to a knee injury.

Meanwhile, Florida State is expected to get back wide receiver Ja’Khi Douglas and defensive tackle Fabien Lovett.

“I think that having those few extra days is going to be able to help,” said Seminoles coach Mike Norvell. “It was good seeing Fabien move around, very hopeful for what that’s going to look like this week. But all in all, I think it was a very positive time for us with a bye week.”

Georgia Tech appeared to have magically righted its sinking ship after firing coach Geoff Collins following a loss to UCF on Sept. 24. With interim coach Brent Key calling the shots, the Yellow Jackets reeled off a pair of solid wins — 26-21 at defending ACC champion Pitt and 23-20 in overtime against Duke.

However, the enthusiasm of those two victories was tempered greatly by last week’s ugly 16-9 home loss to a struggling Virginia squad that came to Atlanta with a 2-4 mark and a three-game skid.

With the sophomore Sims questionable for Saturday and the offense sputtering, the Seminoles opened as a heavy 20 1/2-point favorites against the Yellow Jackets.

Backup Zach Gibson, a transfer from Akron, went 10 for 25 for 99 yards and was sacked seven times in relief as the offensive line was porous against Virginia.

“With Zach being the quarterback, we have to go back to the drawing board and find what gives him the best chance to run the offense and gives us a chance to win,” Key said.

Across 26 games in a series that dates to 1952, the Seminoles are 14-11-1 overall – 0-7-1 in the first eight matchups – and are 6-2 on their home turf.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; UCF Knights quarterback John Rhys Plumlee (10) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Louisville Cardinals at FBC Mortgage Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

UCF gets crack at reeling Georgia Tech

It may be the fourth game, but UCF head coach Gus Malzahn thinks his Knights have reached a key point of the season as they prepare to face Georgia Tech in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday evening.

“I told our team the other day, this is the time of year the good teams start getting better,” Malzahn said. “You see every year, teams hit a lull, we need to be that team that continues to get better as the season goes. We did that last year after we kind of had that two or three games figuring out our identity and who was injured and all that.”

The Knights (2-1) bounced back from a 20-14 loss to Louisville to roll past Florida Atlantic 40-14 last Saturday, rushing for 314 yards. They also got 339 yards through the air from Ole Miss transfer John Rhys Plumlee, who earned the starting quarterback job after spending time as a wide receiver for the Rebels.

“He’s continuing to get more comfortable with the offense,” Malzahn said. “We were able to get in rhythm. I think when we can run the football effectively, things get rolling good for us.”

Georgia Tech lost 42-0 at home to Ole Miss last weekend. The Yellow Jackets (1-2) have scored 10 points in two outings against FBS opponents, with a 35-17 win over FCS foe Western Carolina as their only triumph.

After going 15-10 in two years at Temple, head coach Geoff Collins is 10-27 in three-plus years at Georgia Tech, leading to much speculation about his future with the program.

“I have a tremendous amount of confidence based on demonstrated ability,” Collins said. “Has that shown up yet while we’ve been here? It has not. Do I have faith and belief in the process that we are about to do it? Absolutely.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 5, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back Dontae Smith (4) runs against the Clemson Tigers during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Dontae Smith rushes for 3 TDs, carries Georgia Tech past Western Carolina

Dontae Smith ran for three touchdowns and Georgia Tech took control before halftime on the way to a 35-17 victory against Western Carolina on Saturday night in Atlanta.

Georgia Tech’s defense intercepted three passes to squash an upset bid from Western Carolina (1-1), which is a Football Championship Subdivision team.

The Yellow Jackets (1-1) snapped a seven-game losing streak dating back to last October. It was the team’s first triumph at Bobby Dodd Stadium since Sept. 11, 2021, versus Kennesaw State.

Smith carried the ball 11 times for 102 yards to lead a rushing attack that produced 243 yards.

Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims was just 8 of 17 for 100 yards through the air. He added 48 rushing yards on eight carries.

Western Carolina quarterback Carlos Davis threw for 233 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions on 18-for-27 passing.

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins is a former Western Carolina player.

The teams traded first-quarter touchdowns with Western Carolina scoring on Davis pass plays of 49 yards to Terrence Horne and 22 yards to Toler Keigley. Georgia Tech’s touchdowns came on Smith runs of 9 and 51 yards.

Nate McCollum’s 40-yard rushing touchdown barely four minutes into the second quarter put the Yellow Jackets ahead for good.

They converted again before halftime after an interception set them up at the Western Carolina 39-yard line. Four plays later, Smith reached the end zone on a 3-yard run.

Dylan McDuffie ran 2 yards to cap a 61-yard drive for Georgia Tech in the third quarter.

Richard McCollum’s 44-yard field goal for Western Carolina cut the gap to 35-17 with 11:21 remaining.

Georgia Tech led 28-14 at halftime even though the Catamounts had outgained the Yellow Jackets 272-267.

This was Georgia Tech’s first 2022 home game on its campus after it opened the season with Monday night’s loss to Clemson at nearby Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins shows emotion against the Boston College Eagles in the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech ‘hurting’ at end of difficult season

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins didn’t delve too far into his team’s mindset after its disastrous 55-0 loss at then-No. 8 Notre Dame on Saturday.

“The locker room is the first and foremost thing I’m concerned about,” he said. “There are some hurting guys in there … That’s all I’m concerned about right now. We’ll just keep it there.”

But what could Collins say, at least publicly, after the Yellow Jackets (3-8) were dominated in front of a national television audience en route to their fifth straight loss? And in a game in which they would have wanted to build some momentum with a home game against top-ranked Georgia looming this week to conclude a forgettable season?

Georgia Tech mustered just 224 yards of offense, had a fumble and an interception returned for touchdowns, gave up six sacks and were gashed for 514 yards.

The defensive breakdown continued a trend that has turned a promising 2-2 start into a season that very well could be defined by the Yellow Jackets losing their final six games.

Georgia Tech has given up an average of 539.7 yards in the past seven games. The Yellow Jackets have failed to hold any of those seven opponents to under 489 yards, while three have amassed at least 563 yards.

While two of those opponents — No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 20 Pitt — are currently ranked and have a combined record of 19-3, the others — Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College — have a combined record of 26-29.

And now the Yellow Jackets face their best opponent of the season: Georgia (11-0), which averages 40.3 points per game and hasn’t been held under 30 points since a 10-3 win over Clemson to open the season.

Georgia and Georgia Tech didn’t play last season due to pandemic-related scheduling, but the Bulldogs hung 52 on the Yellow Jackets in 2019 and 45 on them a year earlier.

Georgia Tech has struggled to find continuity under center, as injuries have taken a toll on second-year starter Jeff Sims, who lost his starting job to redshirt freshman Jordan Yates the past two games.

“We’ve all got to be better,” Yates told reporters. “It’s really plain and simple, we’ve just got to be better.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart said the Yellow Jackets have made strides since the teams last met, even if it isn’t reflected in Georgia Tech’s record.

“The biggest thing is they’ve got more talent,” he said. “They’ve had injuries at the quarterback position, it’s been in-and-out, back-and-forth, but they always do a good job in the kicking game.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins shows emotion against the Boston College Eagles in the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Reeling Georgia Tech faces two giants to close out season

If Georgia Tech is going to show any improvement under third-year coach Geoff Collins this season, the reeling Yellow Jackets are going to have to pull off at least one of the biggest upsets in all of college football.

The Jackets (3-7) have won three games in each of the past two seasons under Collins. If they don’t find a way to win nonconference games at No. 9 Notre Dame (9-1) on Saturday or at home against top-ranked Georgia (10-0) on Nov. 27, they will have another one.

The Yellow Jackets finished with a losing record just three times in 11 seasons under Paul Johnson, whom Collins replaced after the 2018 season. They are already guaranteed their third one in as many seasons under Collins, as they’ve sunk toward the bottom of a very mediocre Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Yellow Jackets have gone 9-23 overall, including 7-18 in ACC play, under Collins. They won’t be playing in a bowl game for the third straight season, something that hasn’t happened at Georgia Tech since the early 1990s. Prior to Collins’ arrival, the Yellow Jackets only missed out on bowl season twice since 1997.

“It’s frustrating, it hurts,” Collins told reporters. “But we’re just going to keep working.”

Georgia Tech has five losses by nine points or fewer and three by six or fewer this season.

“We’ve been so close,” safety Tariq Carpenter told reporters. “That’s the part that hurts.”

The past three weeks have been especially disheartening. After opening 3-4 that included losses to three of the ACC’s best teams — Clemson, Pittsburgh and Virginia — it appeared Georgia Tech could regain its footing against the league’s lesser teams.

Georgia Tech followed with losses to Virginia Tech and Miami before falling 41-30 on Saturday to visiting Boston College, which had won just once since September before rolling into Atlanta and amassing 505 yards of total offense.

Georgia Tech jumped out to a 21-7 lead after Jordan Yates’ two-yard run just over a minute into the second quarter. But the Eagles (6-4) scored the next 21 points to take a 28-21 lead at halftime they wouldn’t relinquish.

“We’ve just got to find a way, when we get up 21-7, we’ve got to shut the door on people,” Collins told reporters. “We just need to keep gaining momentum and gaining ground and not let go of the rope.”

Georgia Tech’s Jahmyr Gibbs, who scored on a 98-yard kickoff return in the first quarter, scored on a 4-yard run to pull the Yellow Jackets to 31-30 with 8:59 remaining in the game, but Brent Cimaglia missed the extra point. Boston College scored the next 10 points to put the game away.

Again, Georgia Tech’s defense was torched. Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec ran for three touchdowns and went 13-for-20 passing for 310 yards and two touchdowns.

The Yellow Jackets have given up an average of 337.3 passing yards, in addition to 11 touchdown passes, during their four-game losing streak.

The Yellow Jackets’ previous three opponents are a combined 16-14 and none has a winning record in league play.

Now, Georgia Tech closes against Notre Dame, which has won five straight and whose lone loss is to unbeaten Cincinnati. Georgia hasn’t been beaten this season and hasn’t lost in Atlanta to Georgia Tech this century.

“We have a lot of good players in that locker room,” Collins told reporters.

–Field Level Media