Nov. 19, 2007
Georgia Tech Takes On Rival Georgia Saturday In Atlanta
Georgia Tech, most likely en route to its 11th consecutive bowl appearance, takes a two-game winning streak into Saturday’s regular season-closing game against rival Georgia (3:30 p.m./ABC).
The Yellow Jackets, 7-4 overall and 4-4 in the ACC, locked up their 11th consecutive winning season and finished .500 or better in conference play for the 13th straight year by beating North Carolina, 27-25, last Saturday in Atlanta.
Senior running back Tashard Choice rushed 33 times for 142 yards and senior Travis Bell kicked a field goal with 15 seconds remaining to give the Yellow Jackets a 27-25 victory over visiting North Carolina.
Three different Yellow Jackets threw touchdown passes against the Tar Heels.
Georgia, 9-2 and 6-2, brings a five-game winning streak into Saturday’s game. The Bulldogs, ranked sixth by Associated Press and seventh by USA Today, are coming off a 24-13 victory that kept them in the hunt for a berth into the SEC Championship game.
Georgia leads the all-time series, 58-38-5. The Bulldogs have won six straight in the series, including a 15-12 win over the Yellow Jackets last year in Athens.
More Than Bragging Rights On The Line For Jackets
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, Georgia Tech is probably headed to a bowl game for the 11th straight year. And Saturday’s game plays no role in Georgia’s bid to get to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta the following week.
However, Saturday’s outcome means more than bragging rights for Georgia Tech:
– The Yellow Jackets are trying to snap a six-year losing skid to their in-state rival.
– A Georgia Tech victory Saturday could mean a better — if not a more geographically pleasing — bowl game for the Yellow Jackets.
– The Jackets are in search of their eighth victory. Other than last season, when Tech had nine wins, the Yellow Jackets haven’t produced eight regular season wins in a season since 2000.
– Georgia Tech has defeated teams ranked in the AP top 10 in recent years — a 14-10 win at Miami in 2005 being the last — but the Jackets are looking for their first win at home against a top-10 team since beating No. 7 Virginia in 1998.
– In terms of bragging rights, Saturday’s game is important for Tech true freshmen Morgan Burnett and Scott Blair. Burnett’s brother, Cap, played football at Georgia. Blair’s sister, Michelle, is a senior member of the Georgia equestrian team.
Saturday’s Game Features Two Top Rushers
Georgia Tech and Georgia both feature two of the nation’s top running backs — Yellow Jacket senior Tashard Choice and Bulldog freshman Knowshon Moreno.
Choice (117.6 ypg), who has battled knee and hamstring injuries, leads the ACC and ranks 20th nationally in rushing.
Moreno (111.6 ypg) ranks second behind Arkansas’ Darren McFadden in the SEC and he ranks 25th nationally.
Choice has rushed for 100 yards seven times this season and 17 times in his career, including a 142-yard effort last week against North Carolina.
Moreno has rushed for 100 yards in five consecutive games, including 124 yards last week in the win over Kentucky.
Georgia Tech-Georgia Series History
– The Georgia Tech-Georgia series is the 20th-most frequently-played rivalry in the Bowl Subdivision and the 12th-most played among in-state rivals.
– Georgia leads the all-time series, 58-38-5 (Georgia lists the series at 58-36-6; the NCAA Record Book lists at 58-38-5).
– Georgia has won the last six meetings, including a 15-12 decision last season in Athens.
– The last meeting in Atlanta — Nov. 26, 2005 — resulted in a 14-7 Bulldog victory.
– Georgia Tech’s last win in the series came on Nov. 25, 2000 — a 27-15 victory in Athens. Tech’s last win in Atlanta against the Bulldogs was a 51-48 overtime decision in 1999.
– The last three games have been dominated by defense. The two teams have combined to average 26.7 points per game over the last three contests.
– The last three meetings have all been decided by a touchdown or less.
– Saturday’s game marks the 11th straight between the two teams when at least one of the schools are nationally-ranked.
– Georgia Tech and Georgia have met on the gridiron every year since 1925.
– The two teams first met in football in 1893 — a 28-6 Yellow Jacket win in Athens.
– Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey is 0-5 all-time against Georgia.
– Bulldog head coach Mark Richt is 6-0 all-time against the Yellow Jackets.
The Last Meeting
#16/16 GEORGIA TECH 12
Nov. 25, 2006 / Athens, Ga.
Georgia’s Matthew Stafford threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi with 1:45 remaining, leading Georgia past No. 16 Georgia Tech 15-12.
Georgia Tech (9-3) had already clinched a spot in the ACC championship game. But quarterback Reggie Ball completed just 6-of-22 passes for 42 yards with two interceptions. Most damaging, Ball also had a fumble that Georgia (8-4) ran back for its first touchdown, a play that appeared over until linebacker Tony Taylor snatched the ball from a pile of players and took off the other way for 29 yards.
Tashard Choice, who rushed for 146 yards, put Georgia Tech ahead 12-7 on a 10-yard touchdown with 8:50 remaining. But Stafford directed a 64-yard drive for Georgia’s first offensive score of the game.
On third-and-goal from the 4, Stafford fooled the defense with a pump fake and hooked up with Massaquoi, who slipped free over the middle. The Bulldogs made the 2-point conversion, then Paul Oliver finished off Ball’s career against Georgia with an interception.
Early in the second quarter, Stafford handed Georgia Tech its first points by fumbling a snap, which was recovered by Philip Wheeler at the Bulldogs 13. The Yellow Jackets went backward from there, losing 5 yards, but Travis Bell booted a 35-yard field goal.
It was still 3-0 late in the third when Taylor changed the entire tone of the game. With Ball attempting to scramble on third-and-15, Marcus Howard knocked the ball away. It wound up under a pile of players while everyone else stood around, wondering who had recovered.
Everyone but Taylor, that is. He ripped the ball out from under someone’s legs, then took off. The Jackets stood around in disbelief as the Georgia linebacker rumbled all alone toward the end zone, diving over at the end of the play to draw a personal foul for excessive celebration.
On the ensuing kickoff, Georgia Tech’s Jamaal Evans broke free for a 53-yard return and the Yellow Jackets drove for first-and-goal at the Georgia 4. Oliver knocked away a couple of throws for Johnson in the end zone, forcing the Jackets to settle for Bell’s 24-yard field goal.
Stafford rallied in the fourth quarter, finishing 16-of-29 for 171 yards.
A Divided Blair Family
Georgia Tech freshman Scott Blair, a walk-on who handles the Yellow Jacket kickoff duties, will be playing Saturday for bragging rights within his own home.
Blair’s sister, Michelle, is a senior member of the University of Georgia equestrian team.
Scott Blair has played a key role for the Yellow Jackets this season. After ranking 119th in the nation last year in kickoff return yardage defense, Georgia Tech ranks first nationally this season.
A Divided Burnett Family
Georgia Tech true freshman Morgan Burnett is the brother of Cap Burnett, who played football at Georgia from 1999-2002.
Georgia Tech (66) and Georgia (75) combine to have 141 players from the state of Georgia on their rosters.
Jacket-Bulldog Coach Connections
– Georgia Tech assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Giff Smith was an assistant coach at Georgia in 1994 and 1995.
– Georgia assistant coach Jon Fabris coached the Georgia Tech junior varsity defensive backs in 1980.
– In 1993, Georgia Tech special teams coach Charles Kelly and Bulldog assistant coaches Stacy Searels and Rodney Garner were all on the same coaching staff at Auburn.
– Tech offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris and Georgia assistant coach Tony Ball were on the same coaching staff at Chattanooga in 1988 and 1989.
– Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich has worked on the same campus with four current Bulldog assistant coaches — Stacy Searels (LSU, 2003-06), Willie Martinez (Miami, 1985), Jon Fabris (South Carolina, 1999) and John Eason (South Carolina, 1995-98).
– Yellow Jacket strength coach Eric Ciano and Georgia assistant coach Rodney Garner both worked at Tennessee in 1997.
Tech Kicker And Punter Have Shot At All-American Honors
All you need to know about Georgia Tech senior punter Durant Brooks is that he has the highest career punting average in the ACC — ever.
Brooks ranks sixth in the nation in punting despite handling nearly all of Tech’s pooch-punt situations. He had punts of 77 and 63 yards last week against North Carolina.
Senior kicker Travis Bell, who leads the ACC in scoring (8.8 ppg), kicked the game-winning field goal against North Carolina last week. That field goal was the 60th of his career, tying a Yellow Jacket school record.