ATLANTA (Oct. 9) — In the first overtime game in Georgia Tech history, Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Hamilton scored from six yards out in the first extra period to give the 7th-ranked Jackets a thrilling, 31-24 Homecoming victory over North Carolina, before a sell-out crowd of 46,110 fans and a regional TV audience on ABC-TV.
Hamilton’s heroics atoned for an off afternoon that saw the Alvin, S.C., senior commit an uncharacteristic four turnovers losing two fumbles and having two passes intercepted.
Nevertheless, the 5-10, 189-pounder guided Tech to the fifth fourth quarter comeback in his career, marching the Jackets 79 yards in seven plays in just one minute and five seconds. The last-gasp drive began at the Tech two yard line and set up a 36-yard field goal by Luke Manget with just five seconds remaining in the game to tie the score at 24-all.
Hamilton got the march started with a 31-yard completion to flanker Kelly Campbell who ended the game with the fourth-best receiving day in Tech history with 202 yards on 7 catches. After an incompletion to stop the clock, Hamilton connected on a six-yard pass play to Dez White.
On a crucial third and four play from the Tech 40, Hamilton them hit Campbell again deep down the near sideline for a 35-yard play to the UNC 25. Hamilton then scrambled out of bounds for six yards to the North Carolina 19. Campbell was then ruled out of bounds just out of the end zone, with just eight seconds remaining on the clock.
Manget, a freshman placekicker who had missed both of his previous field goal attempts in the game of 39 and 40 yards, came in and boomed a 36-yarder to knot the score and send the game into the extra session.
North Carolina won the toss and elected to have Tech start on offense. Tech’s Phillip Rogers ran for eight yards on first down to the 17. Hamilton carried over the left side on an option play for eight more and a first down at the nine. Rogers hit the middle for three yards. Then Hamilton, who led Tech’s rushed with 77 yards on 14 carries, scored what proved to be the game-winner on a quarterback draw play up the middle. Manget added the PAT and Tech had a 31-24 advantage.
UNC, on its overtime possession, began with a four-yard pass from Huard to fullback Deon Dyer. On second down, Huard’s pass attempt to tight end Alge Crumpler went incomplete, and on third down his pass attempt for Jason Peace was too long with Chris Young providing excellent coverage. On fourth down his pass in the flat was too long and Tech had managed to escape with the victory was the Homecoming crowd stormed the field.
The Jackets, who improved to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference on the evening, started off the game moving the ball at will against the Tar Heels, marching from its own 20 to the UNC 22 on its opening possession. But there, Tech experienced what was to be the first of six turnovers on the day as Hamilton fumbled and UNC’s Billy Dee Greenwood recovered at the UNC 22.
North Carolina then marched 83 yards in seven plays behind starting quarterback Ronald Curry, who ran 30 yards for a touchdown on a third and one play for a 7-0 lead with 7:28 remaining in the opening quarter.
Tech then began a drive of its own, marching 57 yards in 11 plays before stalling at the UNC 22. But Manget’s 40-yard attempt hit the crossbar and bounced back.
The Tar Heels suffered an unfortunate injury, though to Curry early in the second quarter. The UNC sophomore quarterback sustained a torn right achilles tendon when he was sacked for a 7-yard loss by Tech freshman defensive end Greg Gathers. The injury ended the season for Curry and also ended his plans to play basketball for the UNC roundball squad this winter.
After stopping the Tar Heels on that series, though, Tech’s Marvious Hester fumbled the ball right back on the UNC punt, putting Carolina in business at midfield.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Luke Huard, then came in and marched the Tar Heels 48 yards to the Tech two. But on third and one one, Huard recovered his own fumble, but for a loss of four yards. UNC’s Josh McGee, though, came in a kicked a 24-yard field goal with 7:37 remaining for a 10-0 lead.
Tech was unable to move on its next possession, but its defense held the Tar Heels forcing another punt. This time Hester again muffed the kick with UNC’s Greg Harris recovering at the Tech 16.
After getting a first and goal at the Tech four, the Jackets held on three straight plays, again forcing a field goal attempt. Once more, McGee came in a was true from 21 yards out for a 13-0 advantage with just 1:54 left before halftime.
Tech, which had sputtered throughout the first half, then moved quickly. First, Tech’s Dez White returned from his end zone to the 38-yardline. Then, Hamilton connected twice on short passes of 9 and 6 yards to White. Then Hamilton went deep down the far sideline to Campbell who hauled the ball in for a 47-yard TD catch and with just 49 seconds remaining before intermission, Tech had narrowed the gap to 13-7.
Tech grabbed its first lead of the game on its first possession of the second half. After a 27-yard punt return by Hester, Hamilton again went deep to Campbell who outran the UNC secondary for a 59-yard TD catch and a 14-13 lead with 12:47 remaining in the third quarter.
Tech stopped a UNC drive as freshman linebacker Recardo Wimbush intercepted a deflected pass at the Tech 32. From there, the Jackets marched 68 yards in 7 plays. Sophomore tailback Sean Gregory got the drive started with an 18-yard run and freshman flanker Kerry Watkins added a 26-yard run on a reverse. Three plays later, Rogers scored from two yards out for a 21-13 lead with 7:14 remaining in the third period.
The Jackets then appeared in control of the game late in the third quarter, marching the football on offense, but the turnover big struck again. On a 24-yard run to the UNC 44, Hamilton again fumbled and UNC defensive back Errol Hood recovered and returned the fumble to the Tech 36.
Five plays later, Huard rushed four yards up the middle on a quarterback draw play to narrow the margin to 21-19. Huard, then connected with Crumpler for the two-point conversion and with 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the game was tied at 21-21.
The Tar Heels then took the lead midway in the fourth period, driving 55 yards in 10 plays behind the running of tailbacks Anthony Saunders, who led all rushers with 110 yards in 17 carries and Dominique Williams, who had76 yards in 15 carries. But the drive stalled at the Tech 18, when Huard was sacked a 12-yard loss by linebacker Matt Uremovich.
McGee, though, came in to boot his fourth field goal of the evening, a 36-yarder and with 9:19 remaining, UNC held a 24-21 advantage.
Tech spent most of the rest of the quarter self-destructing as first Manget missed on a potential game-tying field goal from 39 yards out with 35:53 remaining, then Hamilton threw a pair of interceptions at the UNC 21, and then at the Tech 10 yard line with just 2:44 remaining.
But the Jacket’s defense stiffened and on a fourth and goal play from the two-yardline, UNC head coach Carl Torbush eschewed the field goal and Tech’s Uremovich and Gathers stopped Dyer for no gain.
Hamilton began his final drive with only 1:10 remaining and the UNC goal-line 98 yards way, but took just 1:05 to set up the game-tying field goal
Despite the turnovers, Hamilton totaled 350 yards of total offense and with two TD passes he moved into a tie for 7th-place on the all-time ACC career TD passing list with 48. He also boosted his career total offense mark to 8,514 yards, good enough for 4th place and his 66 TDR trail only former Tech standout Shawn Jones (70) and ACC record-holder Shawn Moore of Virginia (83).
Campbell’s reception yardage of 203 yards tied former standout Kris Kenterea’s 1979 total against Navy for the fourth-best effort in school history. His effort trailed only the school mark of 243 yards set by Dez White last year against Virginia, 223 set be Derrick Stegall in 1997 vs. UVA and the 215 last week by White against Maryland.
The win gave Tech, ranked its highest since the opening week of the 1991 season, 14 wins in its last 16 games. The vioctory also evened the series between the two teams at 16-16-3.
NORTH CAROLINA 7 6 8 3 0---24GEORGIA TECH 0 7 14 3 7---31 SCORING SUMMARYNC-Curry 30 Run (McGee Kick), 7:28, 1stNC-McGee 24 FG, 7:37, 2ndNC-McGee 21 FG, 1:54, 2ndGT-Campbell 47 Pass from Hamilton (Manget Kick), 0:49, 2ndGT-Campbell 59 Pass from Hamilton (Manget Kick), 12:47, 3rdGT-P. Rogers 2 Run (Manget Kick), 7:14, 3rdNC-Huard 4 Run (Crumpler Pass from Huard), 0:27, 3rdNC-McGee 36 FG, 9:19, 4thGT-Maget 36 FG, 0:05, 4thGT-Hamilton 6 Run (Manget Kick), 1st OvertimeATT.-46,110 GT NCFirst Downs 23 18Rushes-Att-Yds 41-237 58-276Passing Yards 273 76TOTAL OFFENSE 510 352Passes-Cmp-Int 14-27-2 10-20-1 Punts 3-43.7 7-50.3Fumbles 4-4 3-0Penalties 7-51 9-75Sacks By 3-20 1-23rd Down Conversions 5-11 5-184th Down Conversions 0-0 0-2 Time of Possession 36:12 38:48LEADING RUSHERS:GT-Hamilton, 14-77, 1 TD; P. Rogers, 16-68, 1 TD; Gregory, 10-66, 1 TD. NC-Saunders, 17-110; Williams, 15-76; Dyer, 14-48.LEADING PASSERSGT-Hamilton, 14-27-2, 273, 2 TD.NC-Huard, 7-15-1, 45; Curry, 2-4-0, 13; Peace, 1-1-0, 18.LEADING RECEIVERSGT-Campbell, 7-203, 2 TD; White, 5-51; Andrejewski, 1-11.NC-Crumpler, 6-47; Dyer, 3-20; Bailey, 1-9.