Mercedes Benz Stadium—The smell is in the air and college football started out with a bang with the Chic-Fil-A classic with Georgia Tech and the Louisville game.
With 31,00 fans in the building at Mercedes Benz Stadium, they witnessed a come from behind 39-34 win for the Louisville Cardinals over Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Friday night.
The Yellow Jackets scored their most points in a quarter against a top-division opponent since 2014.
Jeff Brohm’s coaching debut at his alma mater wasn’t what he wished for but a win is a win. Plus they are hard to come by.
Louisville was down by 15 points (28-13) at halftime but transfer quarterback Jack Plummer rallied his troop with three touchdown passes in the second half.
“We have a long ways to go,” said Brohm, who returned to his alma mater after coaching at Purdue. “But like I told ‘em, every college football game is gonna be like that. If you’re not ready for that, you might as well not show up for the game.”
Plummer, who transferred to Louisville after three seasons at Purdue, completed 18 of 31 passes for 247 yards with one pick.
Cardinals wide receiver Jamari Thrash lived up to all the hype and then some.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound receiver played a major role in the victory over Georgia Tech. He finished the night with seven receptions on nine targets for 88 yards and two touchdowns, he was deadly running routes across the middle of the field.
Plummer hit Thrash on a 20-yard touchdown with 8:08 remaining to put the Cardinals ahead at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and just played tough nosed defense after that.
Louisville sealed the opener between Atlantic Coast Conference rivals when Dezmond Tell blindsided quarterback Haynes King, forcing a fumble that halted a potential go-ahead drive.
Jawhar Jordan broke off a 74-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals outscored the Yellow Jackets 26-6 in the second half.
“I challenged the guys at halftime to play much harder, much tougher, just figure out a way to grind this thing out,” Brohm said.
King, a former starter at Texas A&M, threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns, while former Louisville running back Trey Cooley had a pair of TD runs against his old school.
It was a tough loss for Georgia Tech’s head coach Brent Key, starting his first full season at the helm. His team exploded for four touchdowns in the second quarter for a 28-13 lead at the break, but they couldn’t move the ball effectively in the second half.
Key took over as interim coach last season after a 1-3 start ended the tenure of Geoff Collins. Key posted a 4-4 mark the rest of the way and was rewarded with the full-time gig.
“You only get 12 chances a year at these opportunities,” Key said. “You’ve got to be able to sustain for the entire game.”
King threw for a pair of interceptions, including a deflected pick on his first pass of the game, not to mention that back-breaking fumble that sealed their fate.
“You can’t hold onto the ball there,” King said. “That’s a mental error by me.”
The Yellow Jackets had touchdowns on four straight possessions, beginning with King’s 2-yard dart touchdown to Brett Seither. Cooley scored on runs of 1 and 23-yards before King’s pitch to Chase Lane who took it to the house from 48-yards out.
That is why you keep playing and competing hard for four quarters because the game is never over until the fat lady sings.
Louisville: Plays Kentucky, Murray State of the FCS Ohio Valley Conference, in the home opener Thursday night.
Georgia Tech: Returns to campus to face FCS school South Carolina State of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference next Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.