ACC Football

Gold squad wins Ga. Tech spring game

by Matt Winkeljohn, The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — The weather made it feel like football season Friday night, but Georgia Tech's spring game was just ragged enough to prove it wasn't.

Backup quarterbacks Justin Thomas and Tim Byerly led the Gold squad to a 22-10 win over starting quarterback Vad Lee's White squad in front of about 5,000 chilly fans in Bobby Dodd Stadium. The temperature was 49 degrees at the start, and several fan festivities were canceled because of a lousy forecast.

"The thing you've got to be careful about is not reading too much into these things," said Tech coach Paul Johnson, whose team beat USC 21-7 in the Sun Bowl to finish 7-7 last fall when defensive struggles were frequent. "A lot of times it's about matchups."

Perhaps most importantly, although it's dangerous to draw deep conclusions from the annual scrimmages that end the spring practice season, the defense of new coordinator Ted Roof made positive impressions.

All three quarterbacks ran fairly well, yet struggled to pass in a scrimmage dominated by defenses -- especially the Gold's collection of starters. Several starters on both sides of the ball did not play because of injuries or because they're mending from surgeries.

Lee, a redshirt sophomore who played quite a bit last season along with senior starter Tevin Washington, rushed nine times for 62 yards and completed 4-of-13 passes for 34 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Wide receiver Darren Waller dropped what would have been a 30-yard touchdown pass from Lee, and Lee's interception came when Waller broke off a route, and the quarterback threw deep. Senior cornerback Jemea Thomas ran it down for a pick.

"It was a miscommunication between me and the receiver," Lee said. "I was actually trying to throw it away."

Lee also lost a fumble that was returned 34 yards for a score by Gold linebacker Quayshawn Nealy.

Thomas, a redshirt freshman, originally committed to Alabama as a defensive back before deciding to attend Georgia Tech. He rushed 13 times for 26 yards and a 1-yard score.

He completed 3-of-7 passes for 35 yards with an interception. That came when a short pass over the middle bounced off the helmet of A-back Synjyn Days, a converted quarterback, and was picked off by linebacker Anthony Harrell.

"I felt good out there," Thomas said. "We got a lot accomplished."

Byerly, who redshirted last fall after transferring from Middle Tennessee State, rushed seven times for 27 yards, including an 11-yard score in the third quarter. He also completed 2-of-3 passes for 23 yards.

Days led all receivers with three receptions for 33 yards, and added 33 rushing yards on four carries. Matt Connors led all rushers as the B-back carried 12 times for 84 yards.

Roof may have made the biggest impression.

The Gold team had 287 yards of total offense while the White mustered 191. The squads were a combined 8-for-22 on third downs, and failed on a pair of fourth-down tries. Tech's defense has struggled the past several seasons, and Roof - a former Tech player who left a job at Penn State to return to his alma mater - favors an attacking style.

Tech's pass rush was weak last season, but Lee was under duress almost constantly against the No. 1 defense. Thomas was harassed as well.

Senior defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu led the Gold defense with six tackles, and walk-on safety Holland Frost, who redshirted as a freshman, led all tacklers with eight stops for the White. Johnson said, "I think our (defenders) enjoy being a little more aggressive."

The quarterbacks seemed to agree.

"Our defense is tough," Lee said. "I've been saying it all spring." Justin Thomas added: "The new defense that they're putting in . . . as spring went along, they got faster."



More Sports

MOAB grapplers win gold at NAGA state championships

By CHRIS GOLTERMANN cgoltermann@newnan.com Athletes representing MOAB Fighting Concepts in Newnan had a steady hold of more than their opp ... Read More


Local Racing

Johnson in contention heading into final race of season tonight at AMS

By DOUG GORMAN dgorman@newnan.com The final week of the Thursday Thunder racing series at Atlanta Motor Speedway is expected to generate p ... Read More


Pluskota captures doubles title at Evansville ITF event

Former Tennessee All-American and Northgate High tennis standout Natalie Pluskota and her partner Brooke Austin captured the a doubles champ ... Read More


Swords barely misses cut at USGA Girls Amateur

Newnan golfer Annie Swords was unable to hang around for match play at this year’s USGA Girls Amateur. While making her third trip in ... Read More


Area Golf Digest

Cameron Daniel wins division at Hurricane Junior event

Cameron Daniel kept a title close to home as the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour hosted a two-day tournament last weekend at Canongate-on-White O ... Read More

Area triathlete training to compete in XTERRA World Championships

When Robbie Dunlap is on his mountain bike, running long distances or diving into the water for a swim, he is in a world of his own. The 23- ... Read More