Sept. 18, 2006
ATLANTA–ESPN Thursday night football returns to Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field as Georgia Tech hosts Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams. Thursday’s kickoff is at 7:45 p.m. for the nationally televised contest.
Tech will be playing its fourth home game in 19 days. The Yellow Jackets improved to 2-1 on the season with a 35-20 victory over Troy in which they rolled up 500 yards of offense, including 320 yards rushing.
Virginia (1-2) looks for a reversal of fortune after falling to Western Michigan, 17-10.
The game has been dubbed “Throwback Thursday” as the Yellow Jackets will wear special “Throwback” uniforms. Tech will don uniforms reminiscent of the early 1970s, including gold jerseys, white pants and white helmets. Tech wore various gold jerseys with white or gold helmets from 1968-1971.
Calvin Johnson, Tech’s all-America wide receiver, paces the offense with 13 receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Senior quarterback Reggie Ball has completed 35 of 69 passes for 387 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions. After his 130-yard outing against Troy, he is also the team’s leading rusher with 194 yards and a 6.9-yard average. Tailback Tashard Choice adds 176 yards and two touchdowns.
SERIES VS. VIRGINIA
Virginia has won the last three meetings, including last year’s 27-17 win in Charlottesville, to take a 14-13-1 lead in the series with Georgia Tech. The series began in 1965 with a 42-19 Georgia Tech victory as the Yellow Jackets won six straight games before Virginia managed a 20-20 tie in 1984 followed by a 24-13 victory in 1985.
Tech holds an 11-6 advantage at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, but the Cavaliers won the last meeting here, 30-10 in 2004.
Tech and Virginia are meeting in a Thursday night game for the fifth time since 1983, all in Atlanta. Tech has won three of the previous four. The Tech-Virginia Thursday night tradition began in 1983 in a game that was shown on WTBS and won by the Yellow Jackets, 31-27. Since ESPN began its Thursday night package, Tech and the Cavaliers have participated in 1991 (Tech 24-21), 1993 (Virginia 35-14) and 2000 (Tech 35-0).
THURSDAY NIGHT LIVE
For the 14th year in a row, Georgia Tech will be featured in ESPN’s Thursday night, national television package as the Yellow Jackets host Virginia. The Jackets have made 18 appearances since 1991, more than any other school in the nation.
Tech has an 8-10 record when playing in ESPN’s Thursday night games, and all but five of the games have been in Atlanta.
This year’s game marks the sixth time overall and the first time since 2001 that Tech has played a Thursday night game without having the previous Saturday off (denoted by *).
ESPN THURSDAY NIGHT GAMES
Year Opponent Result 1991* #20 Virginia hW 24-21 1993* #25 Virginia hL 35-14 1994 #7 Arizona hL 19-14 1995 #16 Maryland hW 31-3 1996* Duke hW 48-22 1996 at Maryland aL 13-10 1997 #5 North Carolina hL 16-13 1998 at Clemson aW 24-21 1999 Maryland hW 49-31 Year Opponent Result 2000* at NC State (ot) aL 30-23 2000 Virginia hW 35-0 2001* Maryland (ot) hL 20-17 2001 North Carolina hW 28-21 2002 at Maryland aL 34-10 2003 at Brigham Young aL 13-24 2003 Maryland hW 7-3 2004 #22 Virginia Tech hL 20-34 2005 NC State hL 14-17
Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey and Virginia’s Al Groh spent one year together (1979) on Ken Hatfield’s staff at Air Force. Groh was the defensive coordinator while Gailey served as a defensive assistant.
Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta is a Virginia graduate, lettering three years as a defensive back for coach Dick Bestwick. He later served as a graduate assistant (1981-82) under Dick Bestwick and George Welsh.
Two of the most memorable games in Georgia Tech’s storied football history have been against Virginia.
In 1990 in Charlottesville, Tech and Virginia squared off in a classic that many consider to be the best game in ACC history. The Cavaliers entered the game as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, and Tech, ranked 16th, fell behind 28-14 at the half before rallying to win, 41-38, on Scott Sisson’s 37-yard field goal with just seven seconds left. That victory vaulted the Jackets on their way to the 1990 national title.
Eight years later in Atlanta, Tech again defeated Virginia, ranked sixth at the time, by a 41-38 margin. This time, the Yellow Jackets trailed 38-17 in the third quarter before rallying for 24 straight points. Dez White caught two long touchdown passes in the final eight minutes to put Tech ahead, and then the Jackets had to survive a 54-yard field goal attempt to hold on for the win, despite being outgained, 600-370.
HAVING A BALL
Reggie Ball ran his way into the Georgia Tech record book with his performance against Troy. Ball rushed for 130 yards on 16 carries, a Yellow Jacket record for rushing yards by a quarterback. The previous Tech high was 122 yards by Gary Hardie vs. Tulane in 1978.
Ball also passed for 164 yards and two touchdowns, marking only the fourth time that a Tech quarterback has rushed and passed for 100 yards in the same game. Ball also accomplished the feat as a freshman against Vanderbilt.
Ball is Tech’s leading rusher on the season with 194 yards on 28 carries (6.9 yards per carry). His average of 64.7 yards per game is sixth in the ACC.
QBs Rush & Pass for 100 Yards Rush Pass
Quarterback Reggie Ball has moved into second place in career rushing yards by a Georgia Tech signal caller, trailing only Joe Hamilton. Among all players, he ranks 22nd on the Yellow Jackets’ career rushing list.
Ball, who has been sacked only 10 times over the last two seasons, is one of just 11 quarterbacks in ACC history to rush for 1,000 yards. He currently stands fifth in league annals in rushing yards by a QB.
Career Rushing Yards by ACC QBs Years Yards
Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech’s sensational wide receiver, is one of the nation’s top players. The two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection earned first-team all-America honors last fall. He is the preseason choice as the ACC Player of the Year as well as a preseason all-America.
Johnson opened the season with seven catches for 111 yards and a touchdown against No. 2 Notre Dame as he was named ACC Offensive Back of the Week. Then he added two touchdown catches while playing just the first half of Tech’s win over Samford. Johnson already ranks among Tech’s all-time leaders with career totals of 115 receptions, 1,871 yards and 16 touchdowns after just 27 games.
Career Receiving Yards Years Yds
Career Receptions Years Rec 1. Kelly Campbell 1998-01 195 2. Jonathan Smith 2000-03 174 3. Kerry Watkins 1999-02 171 4. Harvey Middleton 1994-97 165 5. Will Glover 1999-02 122 6. Bobby Rodriguez 1989-92 115 Jerry Mays 1985-89 115 Calvin Johnson 2004- 115
BALL ENTERS RARE AIR
Quarterback Reggie Ball has entered “rare air” on Georgia Tech’s career passing and total offense charts. Ball ranks third in every category, trailing only Heisman Trophy runner-up Joe Hamilton and all-ACC honoree Shawn Jones. Those two quarterbacks finished their respective careers as the ACC all-time leader in total offense.
In ACC annals, Ball currently stands 13th in total offense and 17th in passing yards.
BROOKS OFF TO GOOD START
Junior punter Durant Brooks is off to a solid start in his Georgia Tech career. The transfer from Georgia Military College leads the ACC with a 44.18-yard average (16th in the nation). His net of 38.06 is third in the league. Ten of Brooks’ 17 punts have been inside the 20-yard line.
Brooks punted seven times for a 48.1-yard average against second-ranked Notre Dame. He had three kicks of over 50 yards against the Irish, including a 57-yarder, and he had four punts inside the 20-yard line.