ATLANTA (AP) (Sept. 2) — You won’t catch Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton looking ahead to next week’s matchup with Florida State or worrying about his Heisman chances when the 10th-ranked Jackets take on Navy Saturday. First on his mind will be getting even with the Midshipmen.
Hamilton vividly remembers his only other game against Navy — a 36-26 loss as a redshirt freshman in 1996 — when he failed to hold a 26-21 lead, and then couldn’t muster a fourth-quarter rally.
“I was asked to come through. We were ahead by five points late in the game and from there I went downhill in the fourth quarter,” said Hamilton, who threw a pair of interceptions in the final six minutes.
Hamilton, who had a season-high 293 yards passing and rushing and threw for two touchdowns and scored another on the ground, couldn’t get it done down the stretch. One of the interceptions was returned 54 yards for a score to clinch the Navy win.
“It’s one of those things I keep in the back of my head,” said Hamilton. “It’s not so much to settle the score, but you always want to say no team has gotten the best of you.
“The last time I had a chance to play them, they beat us and now I got a chance to play them again and hopefully we can beat them,” said the 22-year-old from Alvin, S.C., who has led the Yellow Jackets to bowl victories the last two seasons.
But Tech has lost it last two season openers, including a 41-31 defeat last year at the hands of Boston College, which finished the season 4-7.
Hamilton says he is going into this year with more confidence.
“My first year I was just going out there hoping I’d do well, hoping we’d win. But now I’m prepared to go out and win,” he said. “Lets get the job done, make sure we do everything well and if all goes by my plan, we’re going to win.”
The school has been mailing out CD-ROMs to media around the country, hoping to ignite a Hamilton for Heisman campaign. Tech also has a special Web site that includes his biography and a promotional video.
Hamilton, however, believes it’s a team thing.
“Everything is about us and how we do,” he said. “I think they (teammates) understand that. Fortunately for me, they think the same way — that somebody from the school is up for an award like that.
“I just think you’ve got to go out and play and believe in your teammates and let everything fall where it may,” said Hamilton.
“My teammates joke about it calling me Heisman Hamilton, things like that,” said the 5-foot-10, 189-pounder who passed for 2,166 yards and a school-record 17 touchdowns last season while rushing for 298 yards and four TDs.
“It’s just fun and games,” he said. “That’s what I’m most proud of, establishing a great relationship with my teammates.”