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Jackets Face Undefeated N.C. State in Thursday Night Showdown

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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech has little time to celebrate its 40-13 victory over Navy as the Yellow Jackets (2-1 overall, 0-1 ACC) must quickly prepare for a nationally-televised Atlantic Coast Conference contest at undefeated NC State (3-0, 0-0 ACC), Thursday night, September 21, at 8 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.

The ESPN telecast features Mike Tirico, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso in the announcers’ booth and Dr. Jerry Punch on the sideline. The radio broadcast on the Georgia Tech-ISP Sports Network, including Atlanta stations WGST 640 AM and WLKQ 102.3 FM, has Wes Durham as the play-by-play voice and former Tech quarterback Kim King as the color analyst.

Not only must Tech deal with the short week, but the Yellow Jackets must switch gears from Navy’s run-oriented attack to prepare for the pass-happy Wolfpack, who lead the nation with 376.3 yards a game through the air behind true freshman quarterback Philip Rivers.

“They’re 3-0 and obviously playing with a lot of confidence right now,” said Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary of the Wolfpack.

“Offensively, they’re throwing the ball about 50 times a game. They have some very good skilled athletes and a freshman quarterback who is doing a great job. For a true freshman, he is very poised and you can see him getting better each game.

“They’re spreading things out and throwing the ball all over the place, but they still have the ability to run the ball with an excellent back, Ray Robinson.”

In three games, Rivers has thrown for 1,069 yards and 10 touchdowns with just two interceptions. His favorite target is Koren Robinson with 19 catches for 376 yards and four TDs. Ray Robinson is the leading rusher with 210 yards and three scores.

Tech quarterback George Godsey (Tampa, Fla.) has progressed with each start and has completed 47 of 82 passes for 544 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions.

“I think George has gotten steadily better,” said O’Leary. “I see him progressing the way we want him to progress.”

Sophomore Will Glover (Tampa, Fla.) leads a balanced receiving corps with 14 catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns, while junior Kelly Campbell (Atlanta, Ga.) has 12 receptions for 160 yards and two scores.

Joe Burns (Thomasville, Ga.) is Tech’s top rusher with 157 yards and one touchdown on 40 carries, along with eight catches for 96 yards.

Sophomore linebacker Recardo Wimbush (Blakely, Ga.) is Tech’s top tackler with 27 hits and seven tackles for loss. Sophomore defensive end Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.) returned a fumble for a touchdown against Navy and has 17 tackles and seven tackles for loss.

Georgia Tech has won five in a row to take a 12-7 lead in the series with NC State, which dates back to 1918, when John Heisman’s Rambling Wreck scored a 128-0 victory. Tech has won the last two games by a combined 95-45 margin. The Wolfpack’s last win in the series was a 21-13 decision in Raleigh in 1994. Tech head coach George O’Leary is 5-0 against NC State.

Tech has won two in a row at Carter-Finley Stadium and is 4-5 in all games in Raleigh.

In 1999 in Atlanta, all-America quarterback Joe Hamilton threw three touchdown passes and Sean Gregory rushed for 113 yards to lead seventh-ranked Georgia Tech to a 48-21 victory over NC State. Kelly Campbell caught six passes for 84 yards, including touchdown catches of 11 and 39 yards, and also scored on a 17-yard reverse play as the Jackets piled up 513 yards of total offense.

In 1998 in the last meeting in Raleigh, cornerback Jason Bostic returned a fumble and a blocked punt for touchdowns, and Hamilton rushed for two touchdowns and passed for another in Tech’s 47-24 victory.

Georgia Tech’s game at NC State is the first of two ESPN Thursday night games for the Yellow Jackets this fall. The Rambling Wreck host Virginia on Thursday, Nov. 9 at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field. Tech also played two ESPN Thursday night games in 1996.

Tech has appeared in ESPN Thursday night games nine times in the 1990s and has a 5-4 record, including last year’s 49-31 win over Maryland. Only two of the nine games have been on the road, most recently a 24-21 victory over Clemson in 1998. Tech and NC State have never met in a Thursday night game.

In addition to the nine ESPN dates, the Jackets have also played two other Thursday prime-time games in recent years, defeating Virginia, 31-27, in 1983 on TBS and falling to Arizona, 20-19, in 1995 on Prime. Counting Thanksgiving, Tech’s record on Thursday is 27-17-2.

Georgia Tech is 2-2 in Thursday games after playing the previous Saturday, but the Jackets have not faced that situation since 1996.

Year    Thursday                Previous Saturday1991    Virginia, W 24-21       @Boston College, W 30-141993    Virginia, L 14-35       Furman, W 37-31995    @Arizona, L 19-20       Furman, W 51-71996    Duke, W 48-22           @North Carolina, L 0-16

Quarterback George Godsey has done his best work in the fourth quarter. Through three games, “Goose” has completed 22 of 27 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Against UCF, Godsey guided the Jackets to two touchdowns in the final four minutes in Tech’s 21-17 victory. He entered the game with the Jackets trailing 17-7 and facing third-and-18 at their own 35-yard line, and completed seven of nine passes for 92 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown pass to Kelly Campbell and then a one-yard scoring toss to Brian Lee for the game-winner with 38 seconds left.

Godsey completed 13 straight fourth quarter passes against Florida State, passing for 128 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jon Muyres that brought the Jackets within five points with 4:50 to play.

George Godsey’s younger brother Gary, a sophomore at Notre Dame, is now the Fighting Irish starting quarterback after Arnaz Battle suffered a broken wrist against Nebraska.

Last week, while George was completing 10 of 19 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns in Tech’s win over Navy, Gary, making his first start against Purdue, was 15-for-24 for 158 yards and one touchdown rushing.

But don’t refer to Gary as the “little brother.” He stands 6-7 and 239 pounds, compared to George’s 6-2, 205-pound frame. Their older brother, Greg, played football at the Air Force Academy, and their father John played offensive tackle for Bear Bryant at Alabama.

With his next touchdown catch, junior flanker Kelly Campbell will tie the Georgia Tech career record. Campbell caught his 13th career touchdown with a 50-yard score last week against Navy. The Tech record of 14 is shared by Dez White, Gary Lee and Buck Martin.

Campbell also ranks 9th in Rambling Wreck annals in career receptions (82) and 8th in yardage (1,396).


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