After consecutive losses to top 10 teams in Oregon State and Notre Dame, BYU headed to Atlanta to take on the rambling wreck of Georgia Tech and its power-option attack. The first half was chock full of big plays for both teams, with Georgia Tech keeping within striking distance.
Jamaal Williams slammed the door on that prospect, however, picking up three touchdowns and 107 yards on the ground and 54 yards and one touchdown through the air as BYU blew the doors open on the Yellow Jackets, 41-17.
If not for a pick-six on an overconfident throw by Riley Nelson on third-and-five and a 97-yard kickoff return, the Cougars could have had a three-to-four touchdown lead heading into halftime. BYU’s eighth-ranked rushing defense held the nation's third-ranked rushing attack to 77 yards and no points in the first two quarters.
The Yellow Jackets were held out of the end zone and hooked a 35-yard field goal attempt wide left on their only drive that took up significant time or posed any scoring threat in the first half. The defensive wall of Ezekial Ansah, Romney Fuga, Uona Kaveinga, Preston Hadley, Brandon Ogletree and Kyle Van Noy played assignment-sound football and stayed in their lanes to prevent many rushing opportunites from opening up.
Special teams played a big role for both teams. Besides Georgia Tech’s missed field goal and kickoff return, BYU had two scoring drives set up by returns near mid-field by JD Falslev — one for a touchdown to start the game and one resulting in a field goal to close out the half. The Cougars also set up a short field on a punt block by Van Noy, which led to a Nelson rushing touchdown.
The Cougars dominated the stat column, outgaining the Yellow Jackets 214 yards to 86 in the first half. The huge disparity came in the passing game with a 124-9 BYU advantage, headed up by 55 yards apiece from Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo. Williams carried the load — both in the rushing column as well as the scoring — racking up 54 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. BYU’s success on the ground led to nearly doubling the time of possession, 19:23-10:27.
Ball control and special teams continued to play a leading role on the first drive of the second half as the Cougars chewed up nearly 10 minutes off the clock, but Justin Sorensen pushed a 37-yard field goal wide right.
On the ensuing possession, Ansah pressured Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington into a bad throw that was picked off by Daniel Sorensen, who returned it down to the 2-yard line. Two plays later Williams tacked on his third rushing touchdown to put BYU up 31-14.
The turnover resulted in a change at quarterback for Georgia Tech. Redshirt freshman Vad Lee sparked some life into the Yellow Jackets, moving the ball mainly via penalty, with three personal fouls committed by the Cougars for 37 yards. BYU buckled down and held Georgia Tech to a 20-yard field goal. Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, their drive nearly ate up most of the rest of the third quarter.
Falslev had another long kickoff return, this time taking the ball to the 43-yard line of Georgia Tech. Just like his other two big kickoff returns, BYU turned the good field position into points. On third-and-six, the Yellow Jackets came with pressure and Nelson got off a shovel pass to Williams just in time and Williams showed off his speed. He took the ball down the sideline for his fourth touchdown of the game to give the Cougars a 38-17 lead.
Sorensen added another field goal to finish up the scoring and give BYU the 41-17 win. The Cougars outgained Georgia Tech 411 yards to 157 and racked up 39 minutes of time of possession compared to 21 for the Yellow Jackets.
BYU heads in to a bye week at 5-4 with Idaho coming to Provo the following week for the final home game of the season.