“We flat-out got our tails whipped,” the Georgia Tech coach said. “We got whipped in all three phases of the game.”
Almost nothing went right for the Yellow Jackets on Saturday in a 41-17 loss to Brigham Young.
Jamaal Williams scored four touchdowns and quarterback Riley Nelson helped account for two TDs as BYU snapped a two-game losing streak and handed the Jackets (3-5) their fourth loss in five games.
Georgia Tech’s offense failed on all 10 of their third-down attempts while their defense was gouged for 411 yards.
“We just never got any rhythm going,” Johnson said. “We came out in the second half and made a couple of first downs, seemed to get the ball moving and then couldn’t convert. We just couldn’t keep the offense on the field.”
The Cougars (5-4) recovered from last week’s three-point loss at No. 5 Notre Dame by holding Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack without a rushing touchdown for the first time in two years and without an offensive touchdown for the first time since 2008.
BYU, which began the afternoon with the nation’s fourth-ranked defense, finally got a break on the road after losing its last three away games by a combined seven points.
The Cougars never trailed after opening with a 17-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Williams converting a fourth-and-goal from the 6.
Their lead grew to 38-17 on the first snap of the fourth quarter when Nelson and Williams hooked up for a 39-yard TD. Catching the shovel pass on the right side of the field, Williams reached the end zone without a threat.
“Basically, they blitzed, and it was kind of an easy call,” Williams said. “Once I got the ball, I knew I had the outside. I got a great block from our receiver, and it was a walk in the park for me.”
Georgia Tech’s Jamal Golden returned a second-quarter kickoff for a 97-yard touchdown, but the Yellow Jackets otherwise struggled on special teams before halftime.
Justin Moore missed a 35-yard field goal wide left that would’ve cut the lead to four, and Ryan Rodwell had a punt blocked by Kyle Van Noy that set up Nelson’s 10-yard TD run and gave the Cougars a 21-7 lead.
Moore kicked a 20-yarder in the final minute of the third quarter, but his miss dropped Georgia Tech to just 5-for-11 on field-goal attempts this season. Moore took over the job this week when David Scully was demoted.
The Jackets’ kickoff coverage was porous, allowing 148 yards on four returns, thanks mostly to the work of specialist JD Falslev.
Williams ran 28 times for 107 yards. Nelson completed 19 of 28 passes for 204 yards and helped BYU’s offense convert nine of 16 third-down attempts.
The Cougars held the ball almost 18 minutes more than Georgia Tech, which began the game with nation’s No. 3 rushing attack.
The Jackets finished with just 117 yards rushing, nearly 223 under their average.
David Sims led Georgia Tech with 32 yards on 11 carries. Quarterback Tevin Washington, who was benched late in the second half as Johnson sent in Vad Lee, was just 1-for-5 passing for nine yards.
Washington was picked off by Daniel Sorensen late in the third, and Williams scored from the 1 two snaps later to make it 31-14.
“Going into the game I intended to get Vad play some,” Johnson said. “It then became apparent that it wasn’t working the other way, so we put him in to try and get something going.”
Johnson wasn’t sure if Washington, a fifth-year senior, will keep his job. The Jackets return to Atlantic Coast Conference play next week at Maryland.
“I’m going to take a look at it,” Johnson said, “and we’ll see.”
Georgia Tech’s best highlight on defense came when safety Isaiah Johnson picked off Nelson midway through the first and ran back the interception 22 yards down the left sideline to make it 7-7.
Otherwise, the Cougars did pretty much what they wanted to do in casting Georgia Tech aside.
“It became frustrating at times,” Jackets senior A-back Orwin Smith said. “Especially when you think you have it rolling and it doesn’t keep happening. We have to find a way to consistently move the ball and finish. That’s been one our main problems.”