By METTE PEDERSEN
ATLANTA — The Yellow Jackets had an explosive dual offensive attack led by freshman Marcus Marshall and redshirt junior Justin Thomas, who ran respectively 159 and 95 yards of Georgia Tech’s 376 rushing yards.
However, the dynamic duo and the Yellow Jackets drew the short end of the string in Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh at the Bobby Dodd Stadium, falling short 31-28.
Running back Marshall ran for two touchdowns, a 58-yarder and a 7-yarder, for the Yellow Jackets. The 58-yard TD run was his second-longest career carry, in his second career 100-yard rushing game with 159 yards on 10 carries.
Quarterback Thomas passed a 29-yard TD to Ricky Jeune in the beginning of second quarter for the Yellow Jackets to get their first lead in the game, and add to the team’s 15 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Thomas gained 106 yards going 6-15 completed passes with one TD pass and a long 34-yard pass, and he rushed a total of 95 yards on 14 carries.
“Well you could recognize our offense again,” head coach Paul Johnson said. “It looked like what we are used to doing. But you got to score more points. : 31 (are) more than 28. We didn’t get enough. Only seven in the second half.”
Georgia Tech had six offensive plays of 20 plus yards. In the past two games they just had five combined. Quarterback Thomas gained 96 yards in just two plays gaining two first downs.
“We just executed a little better,” Johnson said. “Although, we got two of our fastest guys in the open and (Pittsburgh) caught them both. (Thomas) got open in the first half. Marcus there in the third quarter and they caught them both.”
The Georgia Tech offense made several big plays against the Panthers. Marshall completed a three play 75-yard touchdown in just 1:21 min in the first quarter. He saw a hole in the Panthers’ defense and ran 56 yards to the end zone.
Senior running back Patrick Skov scored his sixth rushing TD of the season with a 1-yard touchdown rush and gained eight yards on four carries.
“I think Marcus Marshall is a little more athletic,” Johnson said. “Patrick Skov is a really hard-nosed kid. He’s really tough and he’s going to get you some hard runs. Marcus is probably going to get you more big runs. He needs to learn to hold on to the ball.”
Marshall just played his sixth game for the Yellow Jackets. He still has plenty of areas to improve such as ball security, but he has lots of potential coach, Johnson said.
“I think I’ve gotten better at blocking, but I still need to get better,” Marshall said. “Then obviously ball security. I was doing pretty well there for a minute, but I had a few slipups today and I need to get better at that too.”
The Yellow Jackets have been hit hard this season by injuries, especially affecting the offense backfield as it has lost all its skills players except quarterback Thomas and reserve Broderick Snoddy. However, that has opened opportunity for 10 freshmen to gain experience at the collegiate level.
“I think they did pretty good. They are freshmen,” defensive end Keshun Freeman said. “It’s good for them to get experience that can help them out in the future. I’m looking forward to see what they are doing in the future. We have two great workers on our hand here. They are going to be good.”
After Saturday’s loss, the Yellow Jackets (2-5, 0-4) are still winless in Atlantic Coast Conference action while the Panthers (5-1 overall) improved to 3-0 in ACC play.