ATLANTA (AP)Fill-in starter Jordan Yates passed for four touchdowns and Georgia Tech contained Kennesaw State’s triple-option offense to beat the Owls 45-17 on Saturday.
Yates became the first quarterback in Georgia Tech history to throw for four touchdowns in his first start. The redshirt freshman completed 17 of 22 passes for 254 yards as the replacement starter for Jeff Sims, who was in uniform but held out with a left arm injury.
Yates threw two scoring passes to Kyric McGowan.
Big plays helped Georgia Tech (1-1) recover from last week’s 22-21 shocking loss to FCS school Northern Illinois.
The biggest play came on defense, which forced three turnovers. Jordan Domineck knocked down an option pitch from Xavier Shepherd, recovered the fumble and ran 70 yards for a touchdown that gave the Yellow Jackets a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Domineck also had a sack and Charlie Thomas added his first two career interceptions. The Yellow Jackets held Kennesaw State (1-1) to 272 yards, including 161 rushing.
Georgia Tech led 38-3 before Iaan Cousin’s 54-yard touchdown run on a fourth-down play for Kennesaw State early in the fourth quarter.
The Owls then recovered an onside kick, setting up Xavier Shepherd’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Adeolu Adeleke.
The second interception for Thomas set up Yates’ second scoring pass to McGowan, a 39-yarder. Yates also threw scoring passes to Jordan Mason and Kalani Norris. Dontae Smith had a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The right-handed Sims had his left arm wrapped and braced following the injury in the opener. Sims participated in pregame warmups but Georgia Tech announced before the game he would be used only in an emergency situation.
After Yates lost his helmet on a third-quarter hit and had to leave the field for a play, Temple transfer Trade Beatty was the fill-in instead of Sims.
Kennesaw State quarterback Jonathan Murphy, who led the Owls with 98 yards rushing and two touchdowns in last week’s 35-25 win over Reinhardt, did not play. Murphy left the opener with an apparent lower leg injury.
Kennesaw State: The Owls had at least one first down on every possession until they were stopped on three downs with about five minutes remaining. Kennesaw State converted each of its two fourth-down plays and finished with 13 first downs while averaging 3.8 yards per rush. It was the Owls’ first game against a Power 5 opponent.
Georgia Tech: The strong passing performance by Yates could spark debate about his role when Sims is fully recovered. Yates showed impressive poise when replacing Sims last week against Northern Illinois and again was effective against the Owls. At the least, Yates’ effort could encourage coach Geoff Collins and his staff to avoid rushing Sims back into the lineup.
Kennesaw State: The Owls will play at Wofford next week.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets open their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule at No. 6 Clemson next week.
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