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Eziemefe Leads Tech Over North Carolina, 21-13

Sept 28, 2002

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By DAVID DROSCHAK
AP Sports Writer

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Georgia Tech didn’t miss a beat without tailback Tony Hollings.

Backup Ajenavi Eziemefe rushed for 136 yards and one touchdown in the Yellow Jackets’ 21-13 victory over North Carolina on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets (4-1, 1-1 ACC) beat North Carolina (1-3, 0-1) for the fifth straight time, and the Tar Heels dropped their Atlantic Coast Conference opener for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

Hollings, the nation’s leading rusher who scored 11 of Georgia Tech’s first 17 TDs, is out for the season after tearing a ligament in his right knee in last weekend’s win over Brigham Young.

With backup Sidney Ford still out with a concussion, Chan Gailey was left with little choice other than Eziemefe, a true freshmen he planned to redshirt at the start of the year.

But Eziemefe was up to the task. He went over the 100-yard mark midway through the third quarter and finished with 32 carries without a fumble as the Yellow Jackets dominated the line of scrimmage against the 106th-ranked run defense.

The Tar Heels drove to the Georgia Tech 18 with less than five minutes left and trailing by eight, but Darian Durant was dropped for a 3-yard loss and then sacked by Recardo Wimbush on fourth down to stop the drive.

A.J. Suggs then completed two key third-down passes that helped the Yellow Jackets run out all but 14 seconds of the clock.

North Carolina trailed by one at halftime and had a chance to regain the lead on its first drive of the second half when Durant connected with 276-pound tight end Bobby Blizzard over the middle.

Blizzard warded off several tacklers and was headed for a 61-yard TD, but Reuben Houston stripped him of the ball at the 2. It was recovered in the end zone by Jonathan Cox for a touchback.

The Yellow Jackets then used eight minutes of the clock to march 80 yards on 18 plays for a 21-13 lead.

Georgia Tech was stopped on the 5 and kicked a 23-yard field goal, but Derrick Johnson was called for running into kicker Dan Burnett, giving the Yellow Jackets a first down at the 3.

Two plays later, Eziemefe dove over the pile from the 1 for his second career TD.

Georgia Tech had 125 yards of offense in the first quarter, including 41 on the ground from Eziemefe.

But Suggs threw an interception on the first series and Burnett missed a 38-yard field goal on Georgia Tech’s second drive as the Tar Heels grabbed an early 3-0 lead.

Burnett was subbing for all-ACC place-kicker Luke Manget, who strained a groin muscle in warmups.

Suggs redeemed himself late in the second quarter with a nice play-fake on third-and-2 as he found a wide open Will Glover from 27 yards out for a 14-13 lead at the break.

Backup QB Damarius Bilbo, who kept North Carolina’s defense off-balance with a variety of draws and sprint outs, also added a first-half TD pass to Kerry Watkins.

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