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Gridders Faces First Road Test at Connecticut

Sept. 1, 2002

ATLANTA –

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After opening the 2002 season and the Chan Gailey era with a convincing victory over Vanderbilt, the Georgia Tech football team faces its first road test Saturday at Connecticut. Tech and the Huskies kick off at 12 noon at Memorial Stadium in Storrs, Conn., in a regionally televised (Fox Sports Net South in Atlanta) contest.

The contest can also be heard on the Georgia Tech-ISP Radio Network, including Atlanta flagship station, WQXI-AM “790 The Zone.” Wes Durham calls the play-by-play, while Kim King provides color analysis.

Tailback Tony Hollings (Jeffersonville, Ga.) rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback A.J. Suggs (Powder Springs, Ga.) threw three touchdown passes as the Jackets made Gailey a winner in his first game on the Tech (1-0) sideline with a 45-3 victory over the Commodores.

Connecticut (0-1), coached by former Tech defensive coordinator Randy Edsall, opened its season with a 24-16 loss at Boston College, a game in which the Huskies held a 16-3 lead.

“Our players don’t know a lot about Connecticut yet,” Gailey said Sunday, “but a lot of them remember that Boston College beat us in an opening game a few years back, and Connecticut played B.C. at B.C. very well.”

Suggs, Hollings and the receiving tandem of seniors Will Glover (Tampa, Fla.) and Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.) lead a Yellow Jacket attack that piled up 461 yards of offense against Vandy, including 279 yards on the ground.

In his first game in a Tech uniform, Suggs completed 10 of 13 passes for 132 yards, including two touchdown passes to Glover and one to Watkins.

“I thought A.J. was solid,” said Gailey. “He got rid of the ball when he needed to, didn’t take a chance with the football and was accurate for the most part. He made some very good, accurate throws. He ran the whole show fairly well.”

Glover caught five passes on the night for 54 yards, while Watkins added three catches for 70 yards. Junior wide receiver Jonathan Smith (Argyle, Ga.), who caught 53 passes for 590 yards in 2001, sat out the Vanderbilt game with a sprained ankle, but could also return this week.

To go along with Hollings in the backfield, Tech hopes for the return this week of senior tailback Sidney Ford (Lindale, Ga.), who missed the Vanderbilt game with a concussion.

“I don’t think we were surprised,” said Gailey of Hollings’ outstanding performance in his first game at tailback. “I think we recognized that he had that kind of speed and that kind of talent. I just didn’t know it would manifest itself that quickly and that positively this early in the season. That was really good for it to show up this early.”

The Tech offensive line is led by a pair of all-star candidates in sophomore left tackle Nat Dorsey (New Orleans, La.) and junior center Hugh Reilly (Smyrna, Ga.).

Tech’s defense turned in a strong performance in the opener, holding the Commodores to just 225 yards and nine first downs. The Jackets are led on that side of the ball by all-America defensive end Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.) linebackers Recardo Wimbush (Blakely, Ga.) and Daryl Smith (Albany, Ga.) and free safety Jeremy Muyres (Stone Mountain, Ga.). Smith had three tackles and an interception against Vandy.

“I thought our tackling was good, and the first defense only gave up two first downs, so that was a positive,” said Gailey.

Tech’s kicking game is very solid with Luke Manget (Conyers, Ga.), a two-time all-conference placekicker extended his ACC record streak of consecutive extra points to 137 in a row, and senior punter Dan Dyke (Winter Springs, Fla.), a three-time Verizon Academic All-America who averaged 41.2 yards on five punts against the Commodores.

SERIES VS. UCONN

Georgia Tech and Connecticut are meeting for the first time. The teams are also scheduled to play in Atlanta in 2004 and 2005.

Tech has made several trips to the Northeast in recent years, including last year’s win over Syracuse in the Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jackets also played in the Kickoff Classic in 1991 (loss to Penn State) and at Boston College in 1997 and 1991, both Tech victories.

FAMILIAR FACE

Before becoming the Connecticut head coach in 1999, Randy Edsall spent one year as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator. Edsall’s defensive unit helped the Yellow Jackets to a 10-2 record and a Toyota Gator Bowl victory over Notre Dame in 1998.

Edsall was the defensive backs coach for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars from 1994-97, during which time Tech head coach Chan Gailey was the wide receivers coach and then offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The two division rivals split their six meetings from 1995-97.

The UConn game is one of three this season in which the Yellow Jackets will face a head coach who is a former Tech assistant. Also on the schedule in the coming weeks are a pair of former Tech offensive coordinators in Ralph Friedgen of Maryland (1987-91, 1997-00) and Gary Crowton of Brigham Young (1994).

PRODUCTIVE DEBUTS

Tailback Tony Hollings made an impressive debut in his first game on offense in Georgia Tech’s 45-3 victory over Vanderbilt. The former reserve defensive back moved to tailback last spring and promptly rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, scoring on runs of two and 56 yards. He is the first Tech player to top 100 yards in his first game at running back.

Quarterback A.J. Suggs, who transferred to Tech from Tennessee, also had a productive performance in his first game for the Yellow Jackets. The junior from Powder Springs, Ga., played little more than a half but completed 10 of 13 passes for 132 yards. He threw a pair of touchdowns to Will Glover, covering two and four yards, as well as a 37-yard scoring strike to Kerry Watkins.

MORE DEBUTS

Just three true freshmen saw action for the Yellow Jackets against Vanderbilt: wide receiver Lekeldrick Bridges (Dallas, Texas) played on offense, while defensive backs Chris Reis (Roswell, Ga.) and Venice Gilliam (Tallahassee, Fla.) played on special teams.

RHINO ON THE RETURN

Senior Kelley Rhino (Smyrna, Ga.) is Georgia Tech’s career leader in punt return yards with 798, surpassing the school record that was set by his father, former Tech all-America Randy Rhino (749, 1972-74). Kelley broke the record with 110 yards-one yard off his career best-against Vanderbilt in the season opener.

A first-team all-ACC selection last fall, Rhino broke his father’s Tech season record a year ago. The younger Rhino collected 515 yards in 2001, surpassing his father’s 1972 total of 441 yards as well the ACC record of 448 yards, previously held by Corey Sawyer of Florida State. Kelley’s 48 returns in 2001 tied the Tech season record, set by Willie Clay in 1991.

ACC CAREER PR YARDS  Years   Yds1.      Ledel George, NCS       1990-93 1,1912.      Troy Slade, Duke        1973-75 1,0213.      George Coghill, WF      1989-92 9924.      Peter Warrick, FSU      1996-99 937        Dee Feaster, FSU        1995-98 9376.      Greg Poole, UNC 1979-82 9167.      Bob Smith, Md   1972-74 8998.      Bosley Allen, UNC       1998, 00-01     8109.      Pat Chester, UVa        1978-82 80810.     Kelley Rhino, GT     1999-   798

ACC CAREER PUNT RETURNS Years Ret 1. Ledel George, NCS 1990-93 125 2. Troy Slade, Duke 1973-75 101 Willie Clay, GT 1988-91 101 4. Pat Chester, UVa 1978-82 100 5. Greg Poole, UNC 1979-82 90 6. George Coghill, WF 1989-92 84 7. Bob Smith, MD 1972-74 82 8. Jack Westbrook, GT 1980-83 77 9. Donnell Woolford, Clem 1985-88 76 10. Dee Feaster, FSU 1995-98 76 Kelley Rhino, GT 1999- 72

HOMECOMING FOR MOREHOUSE

Georgia Tech has one player from the state of Connecticut in senior punter Chris Morehouse, who attended Rockville High in Vernon, Conn.

Several other Yellow Jackets are from the Northeast, including tight end John Paul Foschi (Glen Head, N.Y.), who was a high school teammate of Connecticut linebacker Razul Wallace at Chaminade High School on Long Island. Other Tech players from the Northeast include strong safety Cory Collins (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.), cornerback Dennis Davis (Atco, N.J.), cornerback I-Perfection Harris (Staten Island, N.Y.) and placekicker Max DiPace (Brockton, Mass.).

JUST FOR KICKS

Placekicker Luke Manget continues his climb on Georgia Tech’s career scoring lists. The senior all-America candidate is 43-for-62 on field goals and 137-for-137 on extra points in his career for a total of 266 points.

On the Tech career scoring list, Manget trails only placekicker Scott Sisson (299 points, 1989-92) and running back Robert Lavette (276 points, 1981-84).

Manget’s point total ranks 15th in ACC history, ninth among kickers. He leads all active ACC kickers in scoring, field goals and extra points.

TECH CAREER POINTS BY KICKING        Years   Pts1.      Scott Sisson    1989-92 2992.      Luke Manget   1999-   266

TECH CAREER SCORING Years Pts 1. Scott Sisson 1989-92 299 2. Robert Lavette 1981-84 276 3. Luke Manget 1999- 266

TECH CAREER FIELD GOALS Years FG 1. Scott Sisson 1989-92 60 2. Luke Manget 1999- 43

TECH CAREER PAT Years PAT 1. Luke Manget 1999- 137 2. Scott Sisson 1989-92 119

ACC CAREER SCORING Years Points 1. *Scott Bentley, Florida State 1993-96 326 2. *Sebastian Janikowski, Florida State 1997-99 324 3. Ted Brown, NC State 1975-78 312 4. *Jess Atkinson, Maryland 1981-84 308 5. Leon Johnson, North Carolina 1993-96 306 6. Travis Zachery, Clemson 1998-01 300 7. *Scott Sisson, Georgia Tech 1989-92 299 8. Warrick Dunn, Florida State 1993-96 294 9. *Nelson Welch, Clemson 1991-94 292 10. Rick Badanjek, Maryland 1982-85 286 11. *Obed Ariri, Clemson 1977-80 276 12. Robert Lavette, Georgia Tech 1981-84 276 13. *Rafael Garcia, Virginia 1994-96 272 14. *Josh McGee, North Carolina 1996-99 271 15. *Luke Manget, Georgia Tech 1999- 266 * Placekicker

137 IN A ROW AND COUNTING

Senior placekicker Luke Manget has made 137 consecutive PAT in his career, every one he has ever attempted. The two-time all-ACC honoree from Conyers, Ga., has already surpassed the previous ACC record of 93 in a row by Jess Atkinson of Maryland. This year Manget takes aim at the NCAA record of 161 in a row by Tennessee’s John Becksvoort (1991-94).

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