Jan. 4, 2017
THE FLATS – Three student-athletes represented Georgia Tech on the Associated Press 2016 All-Bowl team, which was announced on Wednesday. Harrison Butker was named the place kicker for the 26-player team while offensive lineman Parker Braun and defensive lineman Patrick Gamble earned honorable-mention recognition for their roles in the Yellow Jackets’ 33-18 TaxSlayer Bowl triumph over Kentucky on New Year’s Eve in Jacksonville, Fla.
Butker’s inclusion on the AP All-Bowl team came on the strength of making 4-of-4 field goals and accounting for 15 of the Jackets’ 33 points (both career highs) in the TaxSlayer Bowl victory. His four field goals (from 23, 26, 44 and a season-long 52 yards out) set a Georgia Tech postseason record and were tied for the second-most in single-game school history.
He was also perfect on 3-of-3 extra-point attempts and sent all seven of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
Additionally, Butker became Georgia Tech’s all-time leading scorer with his first extra point of the game, breaking the school record of 322 career points that he shared with Luke Manget (1999-2002). Butker finished the day and his collegiate career with 337 points.
Braun, a freshman all-American, capped his terrific rookie season by helping pave the way for the Yellow Jackets’ 266 rushing yards in the win over Kentucky. Georgia Tech’s left guard delivered the key block on a three-yard pickup on fourth-and-one from the Jackets’ own 15 yard line in the second quarter. That first down led to a 94-yard touchdown drive that gave Tech a commanding 17-3 lead late in the first half.
In his final collegiate game, Gamble turned in one the best individual performances of his outstanding career, racking up seven tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble to headline a stellar defensive performance for Georgia Tech. He set the tone for the game on Kentucky’s first drive when he sacked UK quarterback Stephen Johnson and forced a fumble that was scooped up by linebacker P.J. Davis, who returned it 38 yards for a touchdown that gave Tech an early 7-0 advantage. Gamble also played a big part in the Yellow Jackets limiting Kentucky’s high-powered rushing attack to just 149 yards, including a total of 69 yards by the Wildcats’ two 1,000-yard rushers — Stanley Williams (35) and Benny Snell (34).
With the 25th bowl win in school history, Georgia Tech finished the 2016 season at 9-4, good for the fourth nine-win campaign in nine seasons under head coach Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets’ six-win improvement over last year’s 3-9 campaign was tied with six other teams for the largest win increase in NCAA Division I FBS this season (Colorado was the only other Power 5 conference team to win six more games in 2016 than it did in 2015).