Technically, turnovers: Wake's 5 turnovers lead to Georgia Tech winning their first ACC game 30-16
Preview: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-2, 0-1) vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-0, 0-0)
September 23, 2023 is when the game changes as the Deacs host the Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech.
Both teams are looking for their first win in ACC play. For Georgia Tech, their offense (averaging 35 ppg) is led by quarterback Haynes King (910 passing yards with a 66.7% completion rate to go with 9 touchdown passes and 1 interception) along with a sound running game spearheaded by Jamal Haynes (236 rushing yards/6.1 yards per carry) and Trey Cooley (196 rushing yards/6.1 yards per carry/3 touchdowns). Add key receiving threat Eric Singleton, Jr (200 receiving yards/20 yards per catch with 3 touchdowns) and you have an offensive which is averaging 513.3 yards per game. Their offense will be tested by a Wake Forest defense allowing 20.3 points per game and led by linebacker Jacob Roberts (31 total tackles/5 sacks) and defensive end Jasheen Davis (4.5 sacks), as they have forced 7 turnovers and lead the nation with 15 team sacks.
Quarterback Mitch Griffis (837 passing yards/61.9% completion rate to go with 8 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions) sets the tone for the Wake Forest offense (averaging 33.3 points per game and 440 total yards per game). The ground game is led by Demond Claiborne (269 rushing yards/5.4 yards per carry and a touchdown) and in the passing game, receivers Jahmal Banks (223 receiving yards/12.4 yards per reception along with 3 touchdowns) and Taylor Morin (176 receiving yards/14.7 yards per catch along with 2 touchdowns) look to apply pressure on a Yellow Jacket defense allowing 438.3 yards per game and 33.3 points per game. The Tech defense is led by 4 players with at least 13 tackles (Kyle Kennard with 15, along with Kyle Efford, LaMiles Brooks, and Trenilyas Tatum all with 13 apiece) who look to thwart the Deacon offense's rhythm and flow.
Game recap as Georgia Tech wins the turnover battle on their way to a 30-16 win
Wake would take an early 3-0 lead thanks to a 25-yard field goal by Matthew Dennis.
While the Deacs' defense is able to contain the Georgia Tech running game, the Yellow Jackets' ability to cash in on 3rd downs in the passing game, along with controlling the Wake defensive front 7, put them on a 20-0 run for the rest of the half.
A 31-yard touchdown pass from Haynes King to Eric Singleton, Jr gives Tech a 7-3 lead (4:49 in the first quarter). King would connect with Abdul Janneh for a 33-yard touchdown strike to push the lead to 14-3 (8:04 in the second quarter). Despite throwing his second interception of the year (as Wake's Deshawn Jones makes the pick), the Yellow Jackets' defense forces 2 turnovers (an interception of Wake quarterback Mitch Griffis and a special teams fumble by Taylor Morin) to add a pair of field goals by Aidan Birr (within the last 3:10 of the 2nd quarter/first half) to have a 20-3 halftime lead and keeping the Deacs at -1 in the turnover ratio.
The Deacs would get the ball to start the 2nd half and start to get things going.
On their opening drive, a solid mix of runs and passes leads to a 7-yard touchdown run by Demond Claiborne to cut the deficit to 20-9 at the 10:26 mark (the PAT is missed).
Early in the 4th quarter, the Georgia Tech defense would step up and force their 3rd turnover of the game (via a Mitch Griffis fumble while Wake is driving) to stall the Deacon offense. They would add a field goal at the conclusion of the ensuing drive, giving them a 23-9 advantage over Wake with 10:47 left in the 4th quarter.
At the 5:26 mark, Mitch Griffis connects with Wesley Grimes for a 15-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone to get Wake within a score (23-16).
However, that's as close as the Deacs would get.
The Georgia Tech defense responds by forcing interceptions on Wake's last 2 offensive possessions, including their offense responding with a 26-yard touchdown run by Jamal Haynes to seal the deal en route to a 30-16 win. With the win, Tech improves to 2-2 overall (1-1 in the ACC) while Wake drops to 3-1 overall (0-1 in the ACC).
Notes: Turnovers and Georgia Tech's ability to rush the quarterback are two telling stats in the game.
Wake's -4 in the turnover battle (3 interceptions and 2 fumbles) are costly and despite their 29 first downs, undermine their effort. Likewise, Georgia Tech enters tonight's game with 3 sacks on the season; they end up with 8 in tonight's game.
The Yellow Jackets' offense is slightly outgained (386-380), but quarterback Haynes King (16/27 for 222 passing yards, along with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception) and running back Jamal Haynes (18 carries for 95 yards with a touchdown) lead the way for their first conference victory of the season. Eric Singleton, Jr adds 4 receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown, but the team's defense is led by Kyle Kennard's 4 sacks (8 total tackles).
For Wake Forest, Mitch Giffis' effort (16/30 for 162 passing yards with 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions, along with 20 rushes for 43 yards) along with Justice Ellison's presence in the running game (18 carries for 137 yards) provide the offense with a lift; the same for Taylor Morin (6 receptions for 63 yards) and Jahmal Banks (6 receptions for 53 yards). However, the team defense is shut out in the sack game despite the efforts of Dylan Hazen (9 tackles) along with 3 others recording 6 tackles (Jacob Roberts, Malik Mustapha and Chelen Garnes).
During post-game, Wake head coach Dave Clawson speaks to mistakes which surface in last week's game (against Old Dominion) which surface in tonight's game (watch the full interview below):
Wake defensive back Caelen Carson, quarterback Mitch Griffis, and running back Justice Ellison take time to field our questions during postgame, as they all speak to areas of improvement going into the bye week (you may view the highlights here):
Notes: All video and photos are recorded by Andrew Snorton (with contributions by Dwayne Parker). You may watch the full interviews and 2023 season highlights by visiting our playlist (click HERE to view) and by subscribing to our channel.
Georgia Tech's next game is at home against Bowling Green (September 30, 2023) while Wake travels to Clemson on October 7, 2023.