ATLANTA -- Orwin Smith scored two of Georgia Tech's four first-quarter touchdowns, Stephen Hill caught two touchdown passes from Tevin Washington and Georgia Tech beat Western Carolina 63-21 on Thursday night in the opener for both teams.
The Yellow Jackets piled up 662 yards of total offense -- their most productive game since 2000 -- but they struggled throughout the night to hold on to the football, losing two of six fumbles and allowing a second-quarter punt to get blocked and recovered for a touchdown.
Brandon Pechloff, who was sacked three times, had 180 yards passing for Western Carolina.
Georgia Tech, facing an FCS opponent that dropped to 10-46 since the start of 2006, showed flashes of a formidable passing game after ranking 119th in the nation last year.
Washington completed eight of 13 passes for 271 yards and three TDs. No. 2 quarterback Synjyn Days was 3 of 3 passing for 94 yards. Hill caught four passes for 181 yards. The yardage totals were career highs for all three players.
Georgia Tech had more yards passing in the first quarter (148) than it had in any game last season (130 in an Oct. 2 win over Wake Forest).
The Yellow Jackets, who led the nation in rushing last year, racked up 260 yards on the ground. Smith finished with 84 yards, which included a 77-yard score, on just four carries
Western Carolina scored three touchdowns in the second quarter but still trailed by 21 points at halftime.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson was surely irritated by his team's propensity to fumble.
Leading 28-0 near the end of the first quarter, Jackets B-back Charles Perkins lost a fumble that Western Carolina's Rainey Ala recovered at the Georgia Tech 31. The Catamounts went three-and-out, but Georgia Tech's Euclid Cummings fumbled away the ensuing punt return that Courtland Carson recovered at the Georgia Tech 4.
Pechloff's 2-yard run on the next play made it 28-7.
Washington made a poor pitch two plays later, but fell on his fumble for a 14-yard loss, and Georgia Tech punted.
After the Catamounts had a 13-play, 64-yard drive that ended with Michael Vaughn's 4-yard run and cut the lead to 35-14 late in the second, Georgia Tech answered with Washington's 26-yard TD pass to Roddy Jones.
But following another three-and-out by Western Carolina, the Jackets allowed Ala to block a 45-yard field goal attempt that was recovered by Isaiah Moore and returned for a 69-yard score to make it 42-21 at halftime.