ATLANTA (Sept. 18) — Georgia Tech Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Hamilton ran for a career-high 100 yards and threw for 161 more, and tailback Sean Gregory rushed for 150 yards in his first collegiate start, as 12th-ranked Georgia Tech dominated Central Florida, 41-10, before a crowd of 45,355 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.
In all, Hamilton threw for one touchdown and ran for two more as he moved into a tie with Florida State’s Charlie Ward for 4th place on the all-time ACC Touchdown Responsibility list with 59 for his career.
“It’s a good win,” said Tech Head Coach George O’Leary. “Anytime you can come home and win by the score that we did, it’s a good win, especially when we are playing a lot of young players. It was good to see Mike Kitchen get out there for the first time and get some things done. Sean Gregory, too.
“Defensively, we made some mistakes, but they’ve gained some yards against other teams they’ve played, too. Overall it was a good win and now we have a week off before we play Maryland. There were a lot of good spots and a lot of spots we have to improve upon, but we did get a chance to play a lot of young players, and anytime you can do that and win, I think you are ahead.”
Central Florida, behind the passing of junior quarterback Vic Penn, who completed 23 of 39 passes on the night for 176 yards, took the opening kickoff and quickly marched 80 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead at the 11:08 mark of the opening quarter. After five Penn completions resulted in UCF getting to the Tech 14, running back Edward Mack took it in from there.
Tech responded late in the quarter, after a short punt and 16-yard return by Marvious Hester allowed the Jackets to start their drive from the UCF 21.
Gregory, who topped his previous career high in the first half alone with 82 yards rushing, ran for four yards on first down. Hamilton then ran for 10, with Gregory taking it in from 7 yards out to tie the score at 7-all.
The Jackets then took the lead for good on their next possession, starting the drive on its own 36. With Hamilton and Gegory accounting for all but four yards, Tech promptly marched 64 yards in 11 plays, with Hamilton scoring from nine yards out to but Tech in the lead 14-7 with 12:16 remaining before intermission.
The Golden Knights responded, though, moving 53 yards in 11 plays to the Tech 22 yardline before the drive stalled. But place kicker Javier Beorlegui came in to boot a 39 yards field goal to trim Tech’s advantage to 14-10 with 7:36 remaining in the half.
The Jackets, though, took control of the game on their next possession, marching 67 yards in nine plays with Gregory finishing the drive off with a two-yard dive for the score. Hamilton accounted for 29 yards rushing and a 24-yard pass to freshman flanker Kerry Watkins in the march as Tech took a 21-10 with 4:04 remaining in the half.
Central Florida threatened once more in the half, marching to the Tech 32 behind four Penn completions. But on fourth and seven at the Tech 32, Troy Tolbert stopped Penn short of the first down.
Tech started the second half where it left off in the first, taking the opening kickoff and marching 68 yards in eight. Gregory managed runs of 29 and 16 yards in the march, while Hamilton capped the drive off with a six-yard scoring toss to tight end Russell Matvay for a 28-10 lead with 11:13 remaining in the third quarter.
Tech tacked on a Luke Manget field goal six minutes later as the freshman from Conyers, Ga. booted a 32-yarder, the first three-pointer of his career with 5:29 remaining in the third quarter for a 31-10 lead.
With defensive end Felipe Claybrooks keying an improved pass rush in the second half, Tech’s defense continually kept UCF’s high-powered offense at bay in the third quarter, allowing the Golden Knights just 58 yards of offense. For the evening, Claybrooks managed two sacks and two other tackles for minus yardage.
Early in the fourth quarter, Tech scored its final touchdown of the evening with Hamilton keying a 71-yard drive in seven plays. Hamilton’s 13-yard keeper got the drive started and a 28-yard completion to Watkins converted a key third down play. Hamilton capped the drive with a six-yard option run around right end for the score and a 38-10 lead with 12:02 remaining.
From here, Tech head coach George O’Leary cleared his bench with backup quarterback George Godsey and freshman tailback Mike Kitchen seeing most of the fourth quarter duty. Kitchen, in his first collegiate game, rushed for 63 yards in eight plays.
Gregory, making his first career start due to injuries to Tech’s top two tailbacks in Joe Burns and Phillip Rogers, responded by rushing for 150 yards in on 22 carries and two touchdowns. The Homewood, Ill., sophomore combined with Hamilton to become the first Tech tandem to each top the 100-yard rushing mark in a game since 1996.
Hamilton became only the second Tech player in history to rush and pass for 100 yards in the same game. Hamilton joins Donnie Davis who turned the trick in 1995 against Duke. The Alvin, S. C., senior also completed his first three passes of the game, extending his streak to 18 straight completions, which he started on the final pass of the second half against FSU.
Tech’s opening night attendance of 45,355 fans was its largest for an opening game crowd at Bobby Dodd Stadium since 1984.
With the win, Tech, which has now won 12 of its last 14 games, moved to 2-1 on the year while Central Florida falls to 0-3.
CENTRAL FLORIDA 7 3 0 0 -- 10GEORGIA TECH 7 14 10 10 -- 41 SCORING SUMMARYCF-Mack 14 Run (Beorlegui Kick), 11:08, 1stGT-Gregory 7 Run (Maget Kick), 2:40, 1stGT-Hamilton 9 Run (Manget Kick), 12:16, 2ndCF-Beorlegui 39 FG, 7:50, 2ndGT-Gregory 2 Run (Manget Kick), 4:04, 2ndGT-Matvay 6 Pass from Hamilton (Manget Kick), 11:13, 3rdGT-Manget 32 FG, 5:28, 3rdGT-Hamilton 6 Run (Manget Kick), 12:02, 4thGT-Manget 37 FG, 3:54, 4thATT-45,355 GT CFFirst Downs 24 22Rushes-Att-Yds 45-318 29-92Passing Yards 176 253TOTAL OFFENSE 494 345Passes-Cmp-Int 13-24-0 28-49-1 Punts 4-44.5 8-43.3Fumbles 2-1 2-0Penalties 5-45 6-35Sacks By 2-13 0-03rd Down Conversions 4-10 6-174th Down Conversions 0-0 1-2 Time of Possession 28:19 31:41LEADING RUSHERS:GT-Gregory, 22-150, 2 TD; Hamilton, 12-100, 2 TD; Kitchen, 8-63. CF-Sessoms, 4-33; Te. Williams, 12-32; Mack 4-26.LEADING PASSERSGT--Hamilton, 12-18-0, 161, 1 TD; Godsey, 1-6-0, 15.CF-Penn, 23-39-1, 176; Robinson, 5-9-0, 77.LEADING RECEIVERSGT-Watkins, 4-75; Campbell 4-30; White, 3-50.CF-Lee, 9-84; Hubbard, 4-32; Fryzel, 3-67.