THE FLATS – Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims threw for 359 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but Pittsburgh capitalized on a pair of early turnovers to gain the upper hand and handed the Yellow Jackets a 52-21 defeat on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets fell to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the ACC with the loss, while the Panthers got a win in their first conference game of 2021 and improved to 4-1 overall.
Sims’ 359 passing yards were the most by a Georgia Tech quarterback in 20 years, dating back to George Godsey throwing for 486 against Virginia on Nov. 10, 2001. Tech’s 359 passing yards as a team were its most in a decade, dating back to its 365 yards through the air against Western Carolina on Sept. 1, 2011.
Despite Sims’ aerial efforts, Georgia Tech could not overcome two interceptions on its first two possessions, converting just three of its 15 third- and fourth-down attempts or scoring on just two of its four red-zone trips.
The Yellow Jackets dug themselves an early hole when Pitt’s defense intercepted Sims on the Jackets’ first two possessions, the first on a ball tipped at the line of scrimmage and the second when Sims was hit as he was throwing. Pitt needed just seven plays after the first INT to move 48 yards and make it 7-0, then returned the second 33 yards for a touchdown to take a 14-0 lead less than six minutes into the game.
Tech responded with a five-play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown, capped by Sims finding Nate McCollum for a 44-yard touchdown to make it 14-7 barely midway through the opening period, and it appeared as though a shootout was in the making.
However, the combination of Pitt’s prolific offense and the Yellow Jackets’ miscues made it impossible for the Jackets to keep pace and the Panthers took a commanding 42-14 halftime lead.
Sims’ impressive performance and a career-high 125 receiving yards by running back Jahmyr Gibbs were bright spots for the Jackets, who racked up a season-best 432 yards in the defeat.
Pitt’s offense, which came into the game ranked No. 2 nationally in scoring (52.5 ppg) and No. 6 in total offense (548.0 ypg), was as good as advertised. Quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for 389 yards, with receivers Jordan Addison and Taysir Mack each gaining over 100, and the Panthers also had 181 yards on the ground.
The Yellow Jackets hit the road next Saturday for another ACC Coastal Division duel, a 12:30 p.m. matchup against Duke at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C. The game will be televised on the ACC’s Regional Sports Network, including Bally Sports South in Georgia.