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Jackets Face Resurgent Wake Forest

Nov. 11, 2001

ATLANTA – Looking to regroup following a heart-breaking one-point loss, 23rd-ranked Georgia Tech travels to Wake Forest Saturday for a 12 noon, regionally-televised Atlantic Coast Conference contest at Groves Stadium.

The game will be televised on the JP Sports ACC network (FSNS in Atlanta) and can also be heard on the Georgia Tech ISP radio network, including Atlanta flagship WQXI-AM 790 The Zone, featuring the call of Wes Durham and Kim King.

Tech is now 6-3 overall, 3-3 in the ACC after last Saturday’s 39-38 loss at Virginia in which the Cavaliers scored the winning touchdown on a gadget play with just 22 seconds left. The resurgent Demon Deacons have won three of their last four games, including back-to-back fourth-quarter victories over Virginia and North Carolina to improve to 5-4 overall, 3-4 in the ACC.

“It was a very disappointing loss, but we’ve got to regroup and move on,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary. “Our backs are to the wall.

“We have our work cut out for us against Wake Forest because this is another road game in a place where we’ve struggled. Wake Forest had a great win over North Carolina. Any time you come back and win a game after being down 24-0, it shows a great deal of resiliency.”

Tech quarterback George Godsey (Tampa, Fla.) is enjoying another strong season. He has completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,364 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He directs a Tech offense that averages 34.3 points and 448.2 yards per game.

“George Godsey was outstanding, and the receivers made a lot of plays,” said O’Leary following the Virginia game, in which Godsey passed for a school-record 486 yards. “You run 100 plays and have 537 yards of total offense, and possession time of 37 minutes to their 23, you should be able to get things done.”

Godsey is surrounded by a talented cast of skill players, including the one-two punch of all-ACC receiver Kelly Campbell (Atlanta, Ga.) in the passing game and junior tailback Joe Burns (Thomasville, Ga.) in the running game.

Campbell, who did not play against Virginia due to an ankle injury, ranks second in the ACC in receptions (6.43) and third in yardage (85.6).

The attention that Campbell attracts from defenses has led to the emergence of sophomore Jonathan Smith (Argyle, Ga.), who leads the team with 46 catches for 512 yards and four touchdowns. Junior Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.) has 33 catches for 583 yards but leads the team in touchdown catches (5) and yards per catch (17.7). Junior Will Glover (Tampa, Fla.) adds 25 receptions for 305 yards and one score.

Burns, the ACC’s second-leading rusher, is the backfield workhorse with 893 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns on 215 attempts. He is averaging 113.8 yards in ACC games.

Defensive ends Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.) and Nick Rogers (East Point, Ga.) headline a Tech defense that leads the ACC in total defense, allowing 310.2 yards per game. Despite the subpar effort against Virginia, Tech also ranks second in the ACC in scoring defense (19.4), rushing defense (96.1) and pass defense (214.1).

Gathers leads the league with nine sacks, along with 16 tackles for loss. Rogers adds nine tackles for loss and four sacks. Linebackers Keyaron Fox (Atlanta, Ga.) and Recardo Wimbush (Blakely, Ga.) are Tech’s top tacklers with 65 and 63, respectively. Free safety Jeremy Muyres (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and cornerback Marvious Hester (Atlanta, Ga.) each have three interceptions.

Tech placekicker Luke Manget, a junior from Conyers, Ga., is the ACC’s leading scorer with 31-of-31 PAT and 16-of-25 field goals for 79 points.

Wake Forest relies on a strong running game, led by tailbacks Tarence Williams (99.0 yards per game) and Fred Staton (60.3). As a team, the Deacons are averaging 229.6 yards per game on the ground. Wake quarterback James McPherson has completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,188 yards and three touchdowns.

GEORGIA TECH VS. WAKE FOREST

Georgia Tech has won five of the last six meetings and nine of the last 12 against Wake Forest to take a 17-6 lead in the series, which began in 1917. The Yellow Jackets won last year’s game, 52-20, in Atlanta.

Tech is 6-3 in Winston-Salem and has won four of the last five meetings at Groves Stadium, but the last three games there have been decided by a total of six points. The Demon Deacons upset then 12th-ranked Tech, 26-23, in 1999, while the Jackets won the two previous meetings, 28-26 in 1997 and 24-23 in 1995.

LAST MEETING WITH WAKE FOREST

In 2000 in Atlanta, George Godsey passed for 333 yards and four first-half touchdowns in the Yellow Jackets’ 52-20 victory. Godsey completed 16 of 21 passes, connecting with Kelly Campbell five times for 147 yards, including touchdown passes of 53 and 35 yards. Godsey also threw a 72-yard touchdown to Kerry Watkins, and Sidney Ford rushed for 111 yards on just 15 carries.

HEART-BREAKING LOSSES

Georgia Tech’s three losses this season have been by a total of seven points, including two in overtime. The Yellow Jackets are one of only two teams in the nation to play two overtime games this season. Louisiana Tech (1-1) is the other. In all three games, Tech put together fourth quarter comebacks.

Tech fell 39-38 to Virginia, which scored the touchdown with just 22 seconds left. The Jackets managed three 80-yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, each time taking the lead only to have Virginia answer.

In Tech’s 47-44 overtime loss to Clemson, the Jackets trailed 34-26 before scoring a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to take a 38-34 lead. After Clemson regained the lead with a touchdown with 1:58 to play, the Jackets drove 87 yards for the tying field goal with six seconds left before falling in overtime.

Tech trailed Maryland, 14-0, at the half but a fourth quarter touchdown and field goal put the Jackets ahead with 17-14 with six minutes to play. But the Terps managed a 46-yard field goal on the final play of regulation and then won in overtime, 20-17.

JACKETS LOSE SHOOTOUT IN CHARLOTTESVILLE In a game that featured 43 points and seven lead changes in the fourth quarter, 17th-ranked Georgia Tech fell to Virginia, 39-38, on the Cavaliers’ 37-yard hook-and-ladder play from Bryson Spinner to Billy McMullen to Alvin Pearman with just 22 seconds left. Tech quarterback George Godsey broke his own school records with 39 completions and 486 yards passing and directed three 80-yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, including a 36-yard scoring pass to Kerry Watkins that put the Jackets ahead 38-33 with 1:45 to play. But Spinner, who was 32-for-46 for 327 yards and five touchdowns, then moved the Cavaliers 80 yards on nine plays for the winning score.

GODSEY’S RECORD-SETTING GAME

Georgia Tech quarterback George Godsey enjoyed another record-setting performance in the Yellow Jackets’ 39-38 loss to Virginia, setting school records with 39 completions, 486 yards passing and 477 yards of total offense. He threw one touchdown and scored two more.

Godsey was remarkable in the fourth quarter as he directed three 80-yard touchdown drives on which he completed 15 of 18 passes for 237 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown to Kerry Watkins that put the Jackets ahead 38-33 with 1:45 to play.

The senior from Tampa, Fla., now has the two most prolific single-game performances in Tech history to his credit. In last year’s win over Clemson, he was 35-for-57 for 454 yards and three touchdowns.

RECEIVERS STEP UP With leading receiver Kelly Campbell sidelined by a sprained ankle for Georgia Tech’s game against Virginia, the trio of Will Glover, Kerry Watkins and Jonathan Smith stepped up for the Yellow Jackets. Tech played the entire game with just those three receivers, who combined for 30 receptions and 422 yards.

Glover missed the school record by one catch as he had 13 receptions for 172 yards. Watkins also had career-highs with nine catches for 161 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown, while Smith added eight receptions for 89 yards.

Only two other times in Tech history have the Jackets had two 100-yard receivers in the same game: Kelly Campbell (7-141) and Dez White (2-114) vs. Florida State in 1999 and Derrick Steagall (6-125) and Harvey Middleton (7-106) vs. Duke in 1997.

RHINO NEARS ACC RECORD

Kelley Rhino, who is averaging 11.7 yards per return, is nearing the ACC record for punt return yards in a season. The 5-7, 170-pound junior has 457 yards, trailing only Corey Sawyer of Florida State, who had 488 yards in 1992.

Kelley has already broken the Tech season record set by his father, all-America Randy Rhino, who had 441 yards in 1972. In fact, Kelley is the fourth Rhino to return punts for the Jackets, joining his father, his uncle Danny and his grandfather Chappell.

Rhino ranks fifth in Tech history with 630 career punt return yards. His father also holds that record with 749 yards from 1972-74.

MITCHELL IS MR. VERSATILITY

Georgia Tech’s starting fullback for the first five games of the season, Ross Mitchell made a quick change, moving to middle linebacker following injuries to Georgia Tech’s top two players there, Daryl Smith and Ather Brown.

Mitchell made the move to defense on Sunday following the Duke game and then started against Maryland in a Thursday night game just four days later. He made nine tackles against the Terps and then added eight hits against NC State.

Smith returned from a dislocated elbow for the North Carolina game. Mitchell now is Smith’s backup at middle linebacker while also playing fullback in short-yardage situations.

Mitchell began his career at linebacker, starting six games in 1999, but switched to fullback in 2000.

GODSEY STILL LIKES FOURTH QUARTER

Picking up where he left off last season, quarterback George Godsey continues to be effective in the fourth quarter. In seven games this season in which he has played in the fourth quarter, the senior from Tampa, Fla., has completed 40 of 57 passes for 551 yards.

In all three Tech losses, Godsey guided the Yellow Jackets from behind in the fourth quarter.

Against Virginia, Godsey directed three 80-yard touchdown drives on which he completed 15 of 18 passes for 237 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown to Kerry Watkins that put the Jackets ahead 38-33 with 1:45 to play.

Last season, Godsey hit 53 of 73 passes (73 percent) for 607 yards and 10 touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

In 16 games over the last two seasons in which he has played in the fourth quarter, Godsey is 93-for-130 (72 percent) for 1,158 yards with 13 TD and three interceptions.

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