ATLANTA — Joshua Nesbitt made it easy to forget about the offensive stars Georgia Tech lost to the NFL.
The quarterback ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns and Roddy Jones added two scoring runs as No. 16 Georgia Tech beat South Carolina State 41-10 on Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets lost some big names from last year's ACC championship team. Demaryius Thomas, their leading receiver, was a first-round pick by Denver. Top rusher Jonathan Dwyer was a sixth-round pick by Pittsburgh. Dwyer returned to watch Saturday's game from the sideline.
But the most important player in Georgia Tech's triple-option is Nesbitt, and he kept the offense moving despite an inability to establish a passing game. Nesbitt was only 1-for-6 for 8 yards with an interception, but he averaged 8.1 yards on 16 carries.
"A couple of passes, I was just throwing away because they did a good job of covering," Nesbitt said. "I think I did all right. I could have done a lot better."
Jones had touchdown runs of 1 and 15 yards. Tevin Washington, who replaced Nesbitt late in the third quarter, added an 11-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter as Georgia Tech had 372 yards rushing with six touchdowns.
"We'll take that," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said of the six touchdowns. "It doesn't matter how you get them. I don't know if it would have been better if (Nesbitt) got them passing."
Georgia Tech gave up only one touchdown in its first game with new defensive coordinator Al Groh's 3-4 scheme.
"We would have liked to have played better," said Groh, the former Virginia coach. "We were disappointed with the long runs."
Georgia Tech's replacements for Thomas and Dwyer had quiet debuts as starters.
Stephen Hill had two catches for 12 yards. Anthony Allen, who replaced Dwyer as the featured B-back, had six carries for 28 yards.
"They were keying on me," Allen said. "But I got my feet wet. It's definitely good to have guys come out and key on you."
Clemson 35, N. Texas 10: Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper each scored twice and rushed for more than 100 yards for the host Tigers. Ellington had 122 yards and Harper 102, the first Clemson duo to surpass 100 yards in a game since James Davis and C.J. Spiller, also known as "Thunder and Lightning," in a 30-17 victory at Maryland on Oct. 27, 2007. "(We) learned a lot from those guys, C.J. and James," Harper said. "We're just trying to come out there with a 'New Storm' and show everybody."
BC 38, Weber St. 20: Dave Shinskie rebounded from a poor start to throw touchdowns on consecutive first-quarter drives for the host Eagles. After a delay of game before Boston College's first play, Shinskie threw an interception. The I-AA Wildcats got only a field goal. Then the Eagles scored on their next four possessions to lead 24-3 late in the first half. Shinskie, 10-of-20 for 185 yards, hit Chris Pantale for 6 yards and Ifeanyi Momah for 17.
Virginia 34, Richmond 13: Keith Payne ran for four touchdowns for the host Cavaliers. "I was just following behind the offensive line," Payne said. It was the first game as coach of the I-AA Spiders for Latrell Scott, a former Virginia receivers coach. He replaced Mike London, who left to take over Virginia. Payne scored from 2, 1, 2 and 8 yards. The game also marked the return to the Virginia lineup of quarterback Marc Verica, who started nine games in 2008 but played sparingly last season as the Cavaliers went to a spread offense. He went 24-of-35 for 283 yards and a touchdown.
Duke 41, Elon 27: Sean Renfree went 31-of-39 for 350 yards and two touchdowns in his first start for the host Blue Devils. Renfree completed 13 of his first 14 passes, including 10 in a row, with touchdown throws of 8 and 7 yards on consecutive drives against the I-AA Phoenix. In all, the Blue Devils scored on five of their first six possessions. "I thought his reads and his management of the game was almost perfect," Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe said.
N.C. State 48, W. Carolina 7: Russell Wilson threw for 306 yards and four touchdowns for the host Wolfpack. Wilson was 21-of-31 and led seven consecutive scoring drives as N.C. State scored its most points since 59-20 over Western Carolina in 2003. "It was definitely good to get out there again," said Wilson who missed spring practice to play for N.C. State's baseball team and spent the summer playing in the Rockies organization. "I've been working hard to find my comfort zone." The I-AA Catamounts went 87 yards on 10 plays to score a touchdown on the game's first possession but amassed just 102 yards on 39 plays for the rest of the game.