ATLANTA — Georgia Tech put together an impressive second half without Tashard Choice to beat Army on Saturday.
Now the big question: Will the Yellow Jackets have to prove again they can win without Choice, their star tailback and the ACC’s leading rusher?
Rashaun Grant ran for 119 yards and a touchdown after Choice suffered a knee injury, and Georgia Tech beat Army 34-10 Saturday.
Choice hurt his right knee on a 7-yard run late in the first quarter. The senior, in obvious pain, was helped off the field and then wheeled to the locker room. He did not return to the sideline.
"It was scary," said fullback Mike Cox of seeing Choice injured.
"I was talking with him. He told us it’s not bad and he’d be back. But it was definitely scary."
Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said he feared the injury was severe when Choice couldn’t place pressure on the leg.
Gailey said his medical staff reported that the injury is "not severe but it’s not minor."
"It didn’t look good coming off the field, but they felt better about it than I thought they were going to feel about it," he said.
Georgia Tech plays Virginia Tech on Nov. 1.
Grant, also a senior, posted his first 100-yard game since his freshman season. He said the team received a halftime pep talk from Choice.
"He told us at the half to go back out and play hard, he’d be all right," Grant said. "He just told us to go out there and play like we know we can."
Grant sat out the fourth quarter with an injury to his right ankle but said "I’m fine."
Freshman Jonathan Dwyer and sophomore Jamaal Evans also ran for second-half touchdowns for the Yellow Jackets, who had 510 total yards, including 292 on the ground. Army was held to 266 yards, including only 106 in the second half.
Tech outscored the Black Knights 21-0 in the second half, proving it could move the ball without Choice. It was a group effort. Even Cox, who had only one carry in Tech’s first seven games, ran for 38 yards on four carries.
Army quarterback Carson Williams was only 9-of-23 passing for 124 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.
"It’s a challenge to win any game we play," said Army coach Stan Brock. "We’re not in a position to show up and beat anyone. We have to go out and execute and play to the best of our ability to have an opportunity to compete."
Choice, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s leading rusher, set career highs with 37 carries for 204 yards in a win at Miami last week. He ran for 24 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run, on Saturday before being injured.
Choice was not available for interviews after the game.
"I asked him if he was all right, and he said ‘Yes, I’ll be OK,"’ said quarterback Taylor Bennett, who was 13-of-24 passing for 207 yards.
"I heard he was down but I saw him at halftime and he had a smile on his face, so I’m assuming that it’s OK and that he’s going to be all right."
Georgia Tech (5-3) only led 13-10 at halftime.
Tech cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels’ second interception set up a 24-yard touchdown run by the speedy Grant early in the second half.
Freshman Morgan Burnett also intercepted a Williams pass.
"They bring a lot of pressure," said Brock of Tech’s blitzing defense. "We know that. They bring it about 80 percent of the time, not based on down and distance. They just bring pressure."
The pressure forced Williams to make quick decisions.
"Sometimes you hit it, and sometimes you don’t," Brock said.
Williams’ three interceptions came one week after Army (3-5) committed seven turnovers — including five interceptions by two quarterbacks — in a loss to Central Michigan.
Williams threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Trimble in the first quarter for Army’s only touchdown.
Trimble caught four passes for 83 yards and has TD catches in four straight games. But the senior had too little help, especially with the three interceptions.
"They’re a very good football team," Brock said of Tech. "We understand that. We’re probably not a good enough football team when we give them such a short field to work with. They’re a good team, and they beat us in the second half."
Kevin Dunn was 2-of-4 passing for 27 yards on Army’s final drive.
Travis Bell kicked field goals of 44 and 45 yards for Tech. Owen Tolson kicked a 45-yarder — the longest of his career — for Army.
Patrick Mealy led Army with 18 carries for 86 yards.
GEORGIA TECH 34, ARMY 10
Army 7 3 0 0—10
Georgia Tech 10 3 14 7—34
First QuarterGaT—FG Bell 44, 11:55.
GaT—Choice 1 run (Bell kick), 7:08.
Army—Trimble 27 pass from C.Williams (DeMarco kick), 2:54.Second Quarter
Army—FG Tolson 45, 10:15.
GaT—FG Bell 45, 5:33.Third Quarter
GaT—Grant 24 run (Bell kick), 13:47.
GaT—Dwyer 4 run (Bell kick), 2:03.Fourth Quarter
GaT—J.Evans 1 run (Bell kick), 14:38.
Army GaTFirst downs 13 29
Rushes-yards 33-118 51-292
Passing 148 218
Comp-Att-Int 12-28-3 14-25-0
Return Yards 1 42
Punts-Avg. 7-43.6 4-47.3
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 5-2
Penalties-Yards 6-53 12-110
Time of Possession 25:37 34:23
RUSHING—Army, Mealy 18-86, I.Smith 5-21, C.Anderson 2-10, Viti 2-8, Dunn 1-2, C.Williams 2-(minus 4), Dace 3-(minus 5). Georgia Tech, Grant 11-119, Nesbitt 13-78, Cox 4-38, J.Evans 5-29, Choice 9-24, Dwyer 6-20, Bennett 1-(minus 8), Booker 2-(minus 8).
PASSING—Army, C.Williams 9-23-3-124, Dunn 2-4-0-27, Trimble 1-1-0-(minus 3). Georgia Tech, Bennett 13-24-0-207, Nesbitt 1-1-0-11.
RECEIVING—Army, Trimble 4-83, C.Anderson 2-9, Evans 1-19, Mealy 1-17, Larson 1-12, M.Wright 1-8, Dace 1-3, C.Williams 1-(minus 3). Georgia Tech, G.Smith 4-61, J.Johnson 3-43, Peek 2-49, Grant 2-16, Thomas 1-25, Donley 1-13, Earls 1-11.