Orange Crush: A Flashback to 2004

Dec. 20, 2010

NOTE: The Georgia Tech Bowl Preview Radio Show is scheduled for tonight from 7-8 p.m. at Fox Sports Grill in Atlantic Station. Jeff Woolverton and Rick Strom will host the show, which will include a list of special guests. If you can’t be there live, fans are invited to listen in.

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

The year 2004 began with a bang for Georgia Tech football and ended with one as well.

The Yellow Jackets bookended a 52-point explosion on Jan. 4, 2004 on the blue field of Bronco Stadium in the Humanitarian Bowl (a 52-10 win over Tulsa) with a White & Gold 51-14 demolition of the Orangemen of Syracuse in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 21, 2004, at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

It was a banner day for Head Coach Chan Gailey’s offense, as Tech rolled up a school-record 514 yards of total offense. The win allowed the Jackets to finish with a 7-5 record.

Georgia Tech nearly led wire-to-wire, as 41 seconds into the game, junior safety Chris Reis intercepted a Perry Patterson pass and returned it 20 yards for a score.

The Jackets were never headed or even caught.

Even when Syracuse came right back and scored a touchdown on its ensuing drive, the extra point misfired. Tech, leading 7-6, got the ball back and soon after made it 14-6 on freshman Calvin Johnson’s 10-yard run, the first of his two scores on the day.

It was a day of vindication for the sophomore quarterback Reggie Ball, who had endured a frustrating season. He completed 12 of 19 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns against Syracuse. The second of those scores was a career-long, 80-yard connection with Nate Curry that came at the end of the first quarter, and extended the lead to 21-6. Tech led 35-6 by halftime, and 49-6 after three.

Ball stopped throwing at halftime, having chalked up 192 yards on 9-of-15 passing and the two scores.

Then it was time for the running game. Junior P.J. Daniels finished an injury-hampered season on a high, running for 117 yards and two scores, a second-quarter two-yard burst and a third-quarter one-yard plunge to conclude Tech’s assault on the end zone.

Johnson had the first multi-touchdown game of his career — he’s the last Georgia Tech player to account for a touchdown through the air and on the ground in the same game — with the 10-yard first quarter run, and a five-yard second-quarter touchdown catch. Ball fittingly took one in himself, with an 11-yard run to make the score 42-6. Kicker Travis Bell also set a school-record for most PATs in a bowl game, going 7-for-7.

Special teams even got involved, as they blocked a first-quarter punt leading to a touchdown. It was that kind of day for Syracuse, which allowed the most points in a bowl game in 51 years. They would relieve Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni of his duties before the start of the 2005 season.

Tech and Ball would springboard off the Champ Sports Bowl victory, winning its first three games of 2005, including at No. 16/15 Auburn, 23-14.

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