ATLANTA — Georgia Tech found a way to contain Syracuse’s barrage of direct-snap runs — and to put the Yellow Jackets back in the bowl picture.
Haynes King threw two touchdown passes and added a 19-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter as Georgia Tech stopped Syracuse’s comeback to beat the Orange 31-22 on Saturday night and become bowl eligible for the first time in five years.
Jamal Haynes’ 30-yard scoring run to open the second half gave Georgia Tech (6-5, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) a 24-3 lead. Haynes’ scoring run came after Darrell Gill Jr. fumbled a kickoff return that was recovered by Georgia Tech’s Jacob Cruz.
Syracuse’s run-dominant offense was a surprise in last week’s 28-13 win over Pittsburgh when the Orange rushed for 392 yards, the high mark in the ACC this season. Three players, including quarterback Garrett Shrader, ran for more than 100 yards
“We really challenged the defense this week and they accepted the challenge,” said Georgia Tech coach Brent Key.
Syracuse (5-6, 1-6) ran for 206 yards on 42 carries against the Yellow Jackets but passed for only 53 yards.
“It was definitely a hard thing to game plan just because there were so many different bodies doing different things,” said Georgia Tech linebacker Kyle Efford, who had 11 tackles.
Efford’s interception of sophomore Luke MacPhail’s first pass of the game clinched the win.
The Orange did not have a player listed as a quarterback take a snap in the first half. Shrader was in uniform but was limited by an undisclosed injury. Backup quarterback Carlos Del Rio Wilson, who suffered a lower body injury in a 17-10 loss to Boston College on Nov. 3, was not with the team.
The Orange closed the deficit to 24-22 on three second-half scoring runs, one by Dan Villari and two by LeQuint Allen Jr.
Allen, who ran for 120 yards, had a 23-yard run to set up his 2-yard scoring run midway through the final quarter.
“We’re doing what we can with the guys we have up,” said Syracuse coach Dino Babers.
Villari, a tight end, and Allen, a running back, had direct-snap runs as the bulk of the Syracuse offense. Villari was 14 for 14 passing for 59 yards while rushing for 89 yards and a touchdown.
“A game like this is a linebacker’s dream,” Efford said.
King completed 16 of 20 passes for 138 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown.
Shrader finally entered the game on a third-down snap from the Georgia Tech 1 late in the third quarter. Schrader lined up behind center before handing off to Allen for a touchdown run.
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