The fourth ranked Clemson Tigers blocked two punts and immediately scored touchdowns. Coupled with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets committing 10 penalties totalling 86 yards, the result was a 41-10 blowout loss for the Ramblin’ Wreck inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins accepted full responsibility for the offensive miscues.
“We’ve got to clean those things up,” Collins said about the penalties after the loss Monday night. “We’ve got to consistently put together drives and not hurt ourselves. We spent time with the crowd noise leading up to this. We try to think of the things we could [have} done to cut down on the things that hurt us. I’ve got to do a better job as a head coach and continue to learn from those things.”
While penalties halted offensive drives for the Yellow Jackets, the lackluster special teams play only made matters worse.
The first blocked punt took place with 12:03 to go in the first quarter. Tigers safety Carson Donnelly blocked the punt and receiver Brannon Spector returned it to the Yellow Jackets five.
The Clemson offense quickly capitalized as running back Will Shipley scored on a one yard run putting the Tigers ahead 7-0.
After being down 14-3 at halftime, the Yellow Jackets managed to score a touchdown on their opening drive in the third quarter. Quarterback Jeff Sims connected with receiver E.J. Jenkins for a 13 yard touchdown pass making the score 14-10.
Jenkins, who missed time last season because of injuries, was glad to make an impact in the first game of the 2022 campaign.
“It felt good to be back,” said Jenkins. It was a lot of mixed emotions [for me]. I’m glad I was able to put some points up for the team.”
Jenkins finished with three catches, 34 yards and a touchdown.
As the Yellow Jackets gained momentum with 9:47 to play in the third quarter, the Clemson Tigers found a way to seize it back in their favor.
Tigers Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei led the Tigers offense downfield resulting in a 29 yard field goal by B.T. Potter put the Tigers up 17-10.
Besides the two blocked punts, the play that swung the momentum toward Clemson was the Uiagalelei lateral to Shipley. The Clemson quarterback, while in the grasp of two Georgia Tech defenders, still found Shipley. The play went for ten yards.
“Tried to get out of the pocket, and I kind of got stopped,” Uiagalelei said. I was trying to buy time and be able to get the ball away. I was going to the ground and looked to my left and saw Shipley standing right there and pitched it to him. He did the rest. Made a great run, getting the first down. Just kept the drive alive. I think we scored a touchdown on that drive.”
On the next Clemson possession, Uiagaleilei scored on a nine yard run extending the lead to 14.
Potter converted a 32 yard field goal on the next Tigers possession making the score 27-10. Shipley scored on a three yard rushing touchdown to go up 24.
The second blocked punt came with 8:45 to go in the fourth quarter. Four plays later, Clemson put the game out of reach with a three yard rushing touchdown by Shipley, making the score 34-10.
“There were some things we made adjustments to and on the second one, adjustments didn’t get made,” Collins said when asked about any patterns he detected on both blocked punts. “We’ve got to get those things fixed. You can’t have blocked punts.”
The second Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game was played in front of 47,712 people. However, the upper deck was closed off, even though the Clemson fan base outnumbered the Georgia Tech contingent by a considerable margin.
Georgia Tech will have a five day week before hosting Western Carolina Saturday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium.