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Defense Leads Way As Blue Beats White, 24-7

April 19, 2008

ATLANTA – The Blue team, paced by a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns and a stifling defense, beat the White team 24-7 in the T-Day Game, Georgia Tech’s spring football game at Bobby Dodd Stadium here Saturday afternoon.

A crowd of 8,500 was on hand to watch head coach Paul Johnson’s team for the first time.

Johnson spent the day on the field, observing the action from 15 yards behind the quarterback. From his vantage point, he saw some good things.

“I like the way our guys competed and there were some big plays,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to get to the point where we execute at a higher level.”

Johnson didn’t like what he saw from the offense early on. Both teams fumbled on their first possession and neither offense scored until 10:18 remaining in the first half when Andrew Smith caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Calvin Booker, giving the Blue team a 7-0 lead.

The White team tied it up with just 25 seconds left in the first half when junior Jamaal Evans, a slot back, broke free and scampered 43 yards for a touchdown. That drive included a key 27-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Josh Nesbitt to sophomore receiver Correy Earls.

The Blue team attempted to make a long drive in the final minute of the first half, but Booker’s long pass was intercepted by Martin Frierson.

The White team was shutout the rest of the way as the Blue team, which featured the No. 1 defensive unit, kept the clamps on all day. The defensive line won the battle at the line of scrimmage and sophomore linebackers Brad Jefferson and Anthony Barnes combined for nine tackles and three sacks.

Mohamed Yahiaoui, one of four kickers competing for the starting job, put the Blue in the lead for good with a 32-yard field goal mid-way through the third quarter.

The Blue team went up 17-7 with 9:11 remaining in the game when reserve quarterback Bryce Dykes scored on a keeper from one yard out. The game was put completely out of reach when Booker hit walk-on receiver Kevin Cone with a 48-yard touchdown strike to give the Blue a 24-7 lead.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I am excited about the young guys. We were rough in spots today, but nobody got hurt and that’s a good thing.”

The game was a regulation four quarters, but the clock ran continuously for much of the second half.

The estimated crowd of 8,500, according to many, was the largest to watch a Georgia Tech spring game since Bobby Ross’ first season as head coach in 1987.

Sophomore Jonathan Dwyer, the White team B-back, led all rushers with 59 yards on 12 carries. Evans had 42 yards on three carries. Cone, from Stone Mountain, Ga., led all receivers with three receptions for 71 yards.

Five quarterbacks saw time behind center with Nesbitt running the offense for the No. 1 unit. Nesbitt completed 4-of-12 passes and ran for 19 yards. Booker was 5-of-8 passing with two touchdowns and one interception.

“I am excited about Josh (Nesbitt),” Johnson said. “The more Josh can play the better he is going to be. He has all the tools to be a great player. He just needs more experience.

“I feel good about the attitude of the team. There is an excitement and a willingness to learn.”

SCORING SUMMARY
Blue – 2nd, 10:18 – Andrew Smith 18-yard pass from Calvin Booker (Yahiaoui kick)
White – 2nd, 0:25 – Jamaal Evans 43-yard run (Blair kick)
Blue – 3rd, 8:45 – Yahiaoui 32-yard field goal
Blue – 4th, 9:11 – Bryce Dykes 1-yard run (Yahiaoui kick)
Blue – 4th, 6:27 – Kevin Cone 48-yard pass from Calvin Booker (T. Davis kick)

LEADING RUSHERS
White – Dwyer 12-59; Evans 3-42, 1 TD; Nesbitt 23-19
Blue – Cos 8-27, Kelly 9-24; A. Smith 4-24; J. Malone 2-20; Booker 5-16

LEADING RECEIVERS
White – Earl 2-33; R. Jones 1-25; D. Thomas 1-4
Blue – Cone 3-71, 1 TD; A. Smith 2-29, 1 TD; Clyburn 1-20; J. Malone 1-14

LEADING PASSERS
White – Nesbit 12-4-0, 62 yards; Henry 1-0-0
Blue – Booker 8-5-1, 109 yards, 2 TD; Dykes 4-2-0, 25 yards

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