ATLANTA (AP)—Quarterback Josh Nesbitt ran for two touchdowns and Georgia Tech’s defense made the most of a change to its scheme to beat No. 22 North Carolina 24-7 on Saturday.
Georgia Tech (3-1 overall, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) opened in a 4-3 scheme instead of the 4-2-5 it ran in last week’s 33-17 loss at Miami. The Yellow Jackets held North Carolina (3-1, 0-1) to 154 yards.
Jonathan Dwyer, the 2008 ACC player of the year, had 158 yards rushing for his first 100-yard game of the season. He showed no sign of the shoulder injury that limited him to five carries for 7 yards against Miami.
Nesbitt added a career-high 32 carries for 97 yards. Georgia Tech had 317 yards rushing in its spread option offense while holding North Carolina to 17.
North Carolina’s only touchdown came on T.J. Yates’ 40-yard pass to Erik Highsmith early in the fourth quarter.
Georgia Tech then put the game away with a 17-play, 76-yard touchdown drive, capped by Nesbitt’s 10-yard run. The drive lasted 8 minutes, 15 seconds.
Morgan Burnett had two interceptions for Georgia Tech, including one that ended North Carolina’s final drive with 1:34 remaining.
Yates was 11 of 26 for 137 yards with the two interceptions and one touchdown. Nesbitt was 7-for-17 for 89 yards.
A 35-yard run by Dwyer was the highlight as Georgia Tech drove 88 yards on its first possession. Roddy Jones’ 13-yard run gave the Yellow Jackets a 7-0 lead.
Georgia Tech extended its lead after a Tar Heels turnover. Yates lined up in the shotgun but wasn’t looking for the snap when the ball shot past him. Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan recovered the fumble at the North Carolina 32, setting up Scott Blair’s 34-yard field goal for a 10-0 halftime lead.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson was enraged at the end of the half after officials did not stop the clock following a first-down catch by Demaryius Thomas, who appeared to go out of bounds when tackled at the Tar Heels’ 44. Time ran out after Nesbitt completed a 33-yard pass to Stephen Hill at the North Carolina 6, and Johnson raced onto the field to again confront the officials.
North Carolina had 17 plays for 7 yards before finally mounting its first scoring threat. A 30-yard pass from Yates to Highsmith was wasted when Casey Barth was wide right on a 32-yard field goal attempt.
Blair missed tries of 37 yards in the first quarter and 27 yards in the third quarter.
There was light rain in the second half. Fans were cautioned of lightning in the area at the start of the fourth quarter and told they could re-enter the stadium if they chose to leave. Most fans remained until the rain became heavy in the final minutes.