Nov. 13, 2004
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) – Djay Jones returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and knocked down another punt himself, leading Georgia Tech to a crucial 30-10 victory over Connecticut on Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets (6-3) clinched a winning regular season, which means they’ll be eligible for their eighth straight bowl bid. With games remaining against No. 10 Virginia and eighth-ranked Georgia, it was vital that Georgia Tech beat the Huskies (5-4), who remain one win short of bowl consideration.
Reggie Ball bounced back from a poor performance in a win over North Carolina State, in which he was intercepted three times and passed for just 91 yards.
The Georgia Tech sophomore threw for a career-high 288 yards, including a pair of touchdowns. More important, he didn’t have an interception for only the second time this season.
Jones, a freshman defensive back, dominated on the special teams.
With just over two minutes left in the first half, Ace Eziemefe broke through up the middle to block Shane Hussar’s punt, Jones scooped up the loose ball and ran five yards for a touchdown that put Georgia Tech ahead 17-3.
In the third quarter, Jones got a block of his own, smothering another attempted punt by Hussar. The Yellow Jackets took over at the UConn 15 and wound up settling for Travis Bell’s third field goal, which pushed the lead to 23-3.
Bell has now made 12 straight field goals since missing his first college attempt, breaking Luke Manget’s school record of 10 in a row.
Georgia Tech’s star freshman, Calvin Johnson, had another big game. The towering receiver caught six passes for 131 yards, including a 45-yarder on the Yellow Jackets’ first offensive play.
That led to Ball’s 4-yard touchdown pass to fullback Jimmy Dixon with the game barely three minutes old. Ball threw his other TD pass to another unlikely target, hooking up with Eziemefe, a reserve running back, on a 3-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
The Georgia Tech defense had its way against Dan Orlovsky, who was averaging 295 yards per game passing. He completed 28-of-49 for 205 yards, his second-lowest output of the season.
UConn was outgained 410-225 by the Yellow Jackets, including 72 yards on a meaningless drive at the end of the game for its lone touchdown. Georgia Tech was called for two interference calls in the end zone, the second giving Chris Bellamy a chance to barrel over from the 1 with no time on the clock.
Orlovsky faced tremendous pressure, and the Huskies did nothing with the running game to help him out. They finished with just 20 yards on 24 carries.
Georgia Tech played without its top two tailbacks, but it didn’t matter. Freshman Rashaun Grant rushed for 73 yards in his first career start.