Tech RB Jamal Haynes leads Yellow Jackets with 128 rushing yards and earns Bowl MVP honors

Dec. 22, 2023

TAMPA, FLA. – Georgia Tech fell behind 17-3 but dominated the final three quarters of play to post a 30-17 victory over UCF in the 15th edition of the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl on Friday night at Raymond James Stadium.

This marked the second straight year that the Gasparilla Bowl featured a pair of schools from Power 5 conferences. Georgia Tech of the ACC made its first appearance in the game and UCF, in its first season in the Big 12, made its Gasparilla Bowl-high sixth appearance in the Tampa Bay-area event.

UCF started quickly and threatened to open a big first-half lead, scoring touchdowns on its first two possessions.

The Knights got on the board with a 23-yard scoring pass from John Rhys Plumlee to Javon Baker just a little over one minute into the game. They doubled their lead by capping off a Gasparilla Bowl-record 98-yard drive with a 17-yard scoring toss from Plumlee to Kobe Hudson with 6:26 left in the opening period.

A 36-yard Aidan Birr field goal early in the second quarter put Georgia Tech on the board, but UCF quickly answered with a 27-yard field goal of its own by Colton Boomer to restore its two-touchdown lead.

That would be the final time that UCF dented the scoreboard.

Tech cut the lead back to seven points when quarterback Haynes King finished off a 7-play, 74-yard drive with a 5-yard run at the 4:23 mark. The big play in the drive was a 29-yard pass from King to tight end Dylan Leonard who broke tackles as he moved the ball into UCF territory.

After a UCF punt, Georgia Tech quickly tied the game at 17-17 as King connected with Malik Rutherford on a 41-yard scoring pass. UCF missed a golden opportunity to recapture the lead before halftime but its drive stalled in the red zone and Boomer missed a 30-yard field goal attempt.

The Yellow Jackets carried their momentum into the third quarter, taking their first lead of the contest on a 29-yard Birr field goal on the second half’s opening possession. Dontae Smith capped off a 13-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard run on fourth down to push Tech’s lead to 27-17 early in the fourth frame. That score pushed the Yellow Jackets’ run to 24 straight points after UCF had taken the early 17-3 lead midway through the second quarter.

That run increased to 27 points when Birr connected again on his third field goal of the evening to push the Tech lead to 30-17 with less than five minutes remaining.

Haynes, a redshirt sophomore wide receiver-turned-running back from Loganville, Ga., captured MVP honors after racking up a game-high (and fourth-best in Gasparilla Bowl history) 128 yards on 18 carries.

King, a redshirt sophomore, completed 7-of-13 passes for 87 yards and one touchdown and also rushed for 89 yards and one score on 12 carries. As a team, the Yellow Jackets rushed for 284 of their 371 yards and controlled possession of the ball for nearly 20 of the 30 minutes in their big second half.

Plumlee, a fifth-year senior, led UCF with 198 passing yards (16-29, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions) and senior running back RJ Harvey rushed for 120 yards on 15 carries.

This marked the first time in the 15-year history of the Gasparilla Bowl that each team had a player rush for more than 100 yards.


First Quarter

7-0 UCF – Javon Baker 23-yard pass from John Rhys Plumlee (Colton Boomer kick) – 13:37 (4-51, 1:15)

14-0 UCF – Kobe Hudson 17-yard pass from Plumlee (Boomer kick) – 6:26 (10-98, 4:41)

Second Quarter

14-3 GT – Aidan Birr 36-yard FG – 14:17 (7-39, 3:00)

17-3 UCF – Boomer 27-yard FG – 8:23 (13-59, 5:46)

17-10 GT – Haynes King 5-yard rush (Birr kick) – 4:23 (7-74, 3:55)

17-17 GT – Malik Rutherford 41-yard pass from King (Birr kick) – 0:56 (6-67, 2:59)

Third Quarter

17-20 GT – Birr 29-yard FG – 12:07 (6-54, 2:46)

Fourth Quarter

17-27 GT – Dontae Smith 1-yard rush (Birr kick) – 13:37 (13-75, 6:51)

17-30 GT – Birr 38-yard FG – 4:52 (10-42, 5:53)


2024 Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl Scheduled for Friday, December 20 at Raymond James Stadium

Organizers also announce the renewed commitment of Union Home Mortgage as the event’s Title Sponsor   Tampa, Fla. (June 6, 2024) – The Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl is set to take place at Raymond James Stadium on Friday, December 20, at 3:30 pm ET. Owned and operated by ESPN Events, the game will be broadcast […]



FINAL SCORE: GEORGIA TECH 30, UCF 17 Game MVP: Jamal Haynes, Georgia Tech – Rushing Statistics – 18 carries, 128 rushing yards, 7.1 yards per carry. His 128 rushing yards are the fourth-highest single-game total in Gasparilla Bowl history. Bowl Notes: ● The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) improves 3-0 in Gasparilla Bowl appearances while the […]

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