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Hamilton, White Dazzle Terps, 49-31

Tech running back Sean Gregory outruns a Maryland defender on a 48-yard touchdown run during the first quarter Thursday night. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

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CoachO’Leary’s Postgame Comments [RealAudio]

ATLANTA (Sept. 30) — Georgia Tech Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Hamilton shattered the Georgia Tech single-game total offense record, accounting for 474 yards and four scores to lead the 9th-ranked Yellow Jackets to a 49-31 victory over Atlantic Coast Conference rival Maryland before a crowd of 44,612 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field and a national TV audience on ESPN.

In all, Hamilton tossed TD passes of 29 and 80 yards to junior split end Dez White, and added a 30-yard TD toss to freshman flanker Kerry Watkins, while also tacking on a spectacular 41-yard option run for another score.

The 5-10, 189-pounder from Alvin, S. C., rushed for a game-high 87 yards and tied his personal career best with 387 yards passing to thoroughly out-distance the old Tech single-game total offense record of 412 yards set in 1987 by Darrell Gast against Duke.

White, a Biletnikoff Award nominee almost matched Hamilton’s heroics, grabbing five passes for a total of 215 yards, the third highest single-game total in Tech history behind his 243 yards set last season against Virginia and a 203-yard effort by Kris Kentera against Navy in 1979.

“Obviously, it was a good win,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary. “Its was sort of a track meet for awhile, but we made some big plays. Dez White and Joe Hamilton made some nice combinations out there. But overall, I didn’t think we played very well on offense from the standpoint of consistency with our offensive line and running backs.

“Defensively, there were too many missed assignments in the coverage elements. Again, it’s a good win considering that I don’t think we played as well as we should have played. We just needed to do more things consistently well, and I don’t think we did that tonight. We scored mainly on big plays. I don’t think we were consistent on offense or defense and I think we need to improve on special teams.”

Tech sophomore tailback Sean Gregory got the Jackets on the board first early in the opening period, taking a handoff and bolting 48 yards up the middle for a score with 10:43 remaining for a 7-0 advantage.

The Terrapins, though, wasted no time in responding as Maryland’s Guilian Gary returned the ensuing 84 yards to the Tech six-yard line. Three plays later, Terp tailback LaMont Jordan scored from one yard out to knot the score with 8:55 remaining in the quarter.

Hamilton and White, though, teamed up with lightening-like precision, connecting for an 80-yard pass play for a score on Tech’s next snap from scrimmage. The play was White’s second 80-yard TD catch of the season and gave the Jackets a 14-7 advantage with still 8:35 remaining in the opening stanza.

Maryland again tied the score later in the quarter, marching 75 yards in in eight plays. Quarterback Calvin McCall completed a couple of crucial passes on the drive of 12 yards to Gary and 26 yards to wide receiver Jason Hatala. But Jordan, who finished the game as the Terp’s leading rusher with 79 yards in 27 carries, finished the drive off with runs of 13 and four yards, the latter for the score with 1:23 remaining in the quarter.

The Terps were right back in action as, on Tech’s next offensive play, flanker Kelly Campbell’s fumble was recovered by the Terrapins’ Lewis Sanders at the Tech 41.

Maryland then moved to the Tech 15, but could get no further. Placekicker Brian Kopka, though, came on to boot a 32-yard field goal for a 17-14 advantage with just 1:12 gone in the second quarter.

Late in the half, Tech took control of the game.

First, Hamilton marched the Jackets 70 yards in seven plays for the go-ahead score. Hamilton connected on five straight passes on the march, capping things off with a 29-yard TD toss to Dez White with 1:21 remaining in the half for a 21-17 advantage.

Then, the Jacket’s defense stopped the Terrapins on three plays and Maryland punter Shawn Starner shanked a punt which traveled only eight yards.

Taking possession at the Maryland 30, with just 28 seconds remaining before intermission, Hamilton and needed just two plays to get the Jackets in the end zone, the last a 30-yard TD toss to Watkins for a 28-17 halftime lead.

By completing 12 of 17 passes for 257 yards prior to intermission, Hamilton had set a new Tech single-game record for passing yards in a first half, shattering a 233-yard mark set in 1979 against Navy.

The Terrapins got right back into the game after intermission, taking the second half kickoff and marching 80 yards in 11 plays. Fullback Mark Kalapinski scored from one yard out to cut the Tech advantage to 28-24 with 10:00 remaining in the quarter.

Hamilton and the Jackets promptly responded, though, driving 82 yards in nine plays. The senior quarterback accounted for all but six yards of the drive, capping the march with a masterful 41-yard run for the score on an option play and with 5:37 remaining in the third quarter for a 35-24 lead.

The Terrapins then marched deep into Tech territory before the Jackets’ defense, led by freshman defensive end Greg Gathers and linebacker Matt Uremovich stiffened. Tech held the Terps on a fourth and six play at the Tech 30-yardline.

On its next play from scrimmage, Hamilton went deep to White again for a 63-yard pickup down to the Maryland seven. Three plays later, senior tailback Philip Rogers scored from one yard out for as 42-24 lead with 1:36 remaining in the third quarter.

The Terps wasted no time on their own part, though. On their third play of their next possession, tailback Jordan tossed a 60-yard touchdown pass play on a halfback pass to wide receiver Jermaine Arrington. The score reasserted the Terps in the game, trimming Tech’s lead to 42-31 with still 14 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Jackets finally put the game away late in the fourth quarter, marching 39 yards in 12 plays with Rogers scoring his second TD of the day non a one-yard run with 5:45 remaining. The score, set up by a pass interception by freshman cornerback Marvious Hester, gave the Jackets a 49-31 advantage.

That would remain the final score, though Tech placekicker Luke Manget missed a 41-yard field goal and the game ended with Tech at the Maryland 24.

The 49 points scored by the Jackets were its most ever in its series with the Terrapins which began in 1988. Tech’s crowd of 44,612 fans was the most to ever see a Georgia Tech-Maryland football game.

Though Tech’s defense gave up 399 yards and 31 points, the Jackets did hold talented tailback LaMont Jordan to just 79 yards rushing, some 42 yards below his personal average.

The 587 yards of total offense for Tech was the sixth-highest total in Tech history. Hamilton’s four TDR for the game gave him 66 for his career moving him into third place on the all-time Atlantic Coast Conference list. Only former Virginia standout Shawn Moore (83) and former tech great Shawn Jones (70) accounted for more scores in their careers.

MARYLAND       14 3  14 0--31GEORGIA TECH   14 14 14 7--49SCORING SUMMARYGT--Gregory 48 Run (Manget Kick), 10:34, 1stMD--Jordan 1 Run (Kopka Kick), 8:56, 1stGT--White 80 Pass from Hamilton (Manget Kick), 8:35, 1stMD--Jordan 4 Run (Kopka Kick), 1:23, 1stMD--Kopka 32 FG, 13:48, 2ndGT--White 29 Pass from Hamilton (Manget Kick), 1:21, 2ndGT--Watkins 30 Pass from Hamilton (Manget Kick), 0:18, 2ndMD--Kalapinski 1 Run (Kopka Kick), 10:00, 3rdGT--Hamilton 41 Run (Manget Kick), 5:37, 3rdGT--P. Rogers 1 Run (Manget Kick), 1:36, 3rdMD--Arrington 60 Pass from Jordan (Kopka Kick), 0:14, 3rdGT--P. Rogers 1 Run (Manget Kick), 5:46, 4thATT.--44,612                      GT       MDFirst Downs           22       15Rushes-Att-Yds        43-200   36-89Passing Yards         387      310TOTAL OFFENSE         587      399Passes-Cmp-Int        19-31-2  17-32-2Punts                 4-47.0   7-28.9Fumbles               2-2      1-0Penalties             5-41     7-57Sacks By              0-0      1-133rd Down Conversions  9-15     3-144th Down Conversions  0-0      0-1Time of Possession    28:54    31:06LEADING RUSHERS:GT--Hamilton, 13-87, 1 TD;  Gregory, 9-57, 1 TD; P. Rogers, 14-31, 2 TD. MD--Jordan, 27-79; 2 TD;  Perry, 2-10; Kalapinski, 3-8, 1 TD.LEADING PASSERSGT--Hamilton, 19-31-2, 387, 3 TD.MD--McCall, 15-30-2, 221;  Jordan, 1-1-0, 60, 1 TD;Patterson, 1-1-0, 29.LEADING RECEIVERSGT--Campbell, 6-86;  White, 5-215, 2 TD; Watkins, 2-39, 1 TD.MD--Waerig, 4-68;  Jordan, 4-61; Arrington, 3-94, 1 TD.

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