Dec. 18, 2010
By Jon Cooper
The 1970 season was a unique one for Georgia Tech.
The Jackets finished 9-3, giving Head Coach Bud Carson his lone winning season on The Flats and the only one where his teams wouldn’t lose six games.
It was a year where the Jackets would knock the nation’s top-ranked team out of the top spot, despite losing the game, as their hard-fought 10-7 defeat against Notre Dame in South Bend convinced pollsters to jump No. 2 Texas ahead of the Fighting Irish. Tech knocked off Georgia, 17-7, to finish the regular season at 8-3 and give the Jackets four wins in their last five games.
After doing one Texas team a solid, the 13th-ranked Yellow Jackets would be rewarded by getting an all-expenses-paid trip to El Paso, Texas, to play another Texas-based team, No. 19 Texas Tech, in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 19, 1970.
The defense, which featured defensive lineman and Lombardi Award finalist Rock Perdoni, would spark Tech to a memorable day, forcing six first-half turnovers then hanging on in the second half to win, 17-9.
The Jackets set the tone right away, as senior quarterback Jack Williams orchestrated a 62-yard, 11-play drive, which Bob Healy capped with a two-yard plunge to give Tech a 7-0 lead.
Tech’s defense, which allowed 10 points or fewer in four of their final five regular-season games, stymied the Red Raiders’ rushing game, allowing Texas Tech to cross midfield only once in the first 30 minutes while forcing the six turnovers. Tech left the field with a 10-0 lead at intermission, adding a 21-yard Jack Moore field goal in the closing minute.
Carson called it “the best first half we’ve played all year,” although they only scored one touchdown.
Tech nearly paid dearly for their inability to punch it in in the second half. T.T. cut the lead to 10-9 on a Doug McCutchen seven-yard touchdown run, and a safety when a Chip Pallman’s punt was blocked out of the end zone. Early in the fourth Texas Tech appeared poised to take the lead, driving deep into Georgia Tech territory. But the Jackets stood firm and left with their one-point lead when Red Raiders kicker Dickie Ingram missed a 26-yard field goal.
The Yellow Jackets put the game on ice, when linebacker Bill Flowers recovered a fumble at the Texas Tech 25 and reserve tailback Kevin McNamara scored six plays later from two yards out with 1:44 to play, to provide the game’s final margin.
Flowers was named the game’s most valuable player, making eight unassisted tackles. Perdoni was named the game’s outstanding lineman, making 13 tackles, including, a Sun Bowl-record four tackles for loss. His record would last 14 years, until Tennessee’s Reggie McKenzie broke his mark by half a TFL). His total still ranks fourth in Sun Bowl history.
Williams’ .786 completion percentage (11-of-14) set a Sun Bowl which was matched by Stanford’s Chad Hutchinson 26 years later (Hutchinson completed 22 of 28).
Georgia Tech has not returned to the Sun Bowl, nor have they played Texas Tech, against whom they are 2-0 all-time, upending the 10th-ranked Red Raiders, 31-21, in the 1966 Gator Bowl.
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In addition to wishing a happy anniversary to the 1970 Yellow Jackets, Sting Daily would like to wish a Happy Birthday to Co-Offensive Line Coach Todd Spencer and freshman defensive end Anthony Williams