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Jackets Return Home to Host Maryland

Oct. 2, 2006

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Eighteenth-ranked Georgia Tech puts a four-game winning streak on the line as the Yellow Jackets return home to host Maryland in an Atlantic Coast Conference battle Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field. The game will be nationally televised in ESPNU.

Tech (4-1, 2-0 ACC) is coming off one of its most important victories in recent years after the Jackets’ 38-27 win at 10th-ranked Virginia Tech. Head coach Chan Gailey’s seventh win over a ranked team put the Yellow Jackets atop the ACC’s Coastal Division.

Maryland, coached by long-time Tech assistant Ralph Friedgen, is well-rested after an open date last Saturday. The Terrapins enter their first ACC test at 3-1 overall, with their lone loss coming at fourth-ranked West Virginia.

Calvin Johnson, Tech’s all-America wide receiver, leads the ACC in receptions with 25 (5.0 per game) and receiving yards with 426 (85.2 pg) while ranking third in the league in scoring with seven touchdowns.

Senior quarterback Reggie Ball has completed 54 of 104 passes for 768 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions. He is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 231 yards and a 4.4-yard average. Tailback Tashard Choice leads Tech and stands third in the ACC with 364 yards rushing on 75 attempts and four touchdowns. As a team, Tech is second in the league in rushing (174.0) and third in scoring (29.0 ppg).

Linebacker Philip Wheeler leads Tech’s outstanding defense with 235 tackles, including ACC-leading totals of 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. Safeties Djay Jones and Jamal Lewis have two interceptions apiece.

Tech ranks in the Top 10 nationally in rushing defense (10th, 68.60 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (5th, 93.37 rating) while allowing 14.8 points per game (23rd in the nation).

TECH GOBBLES UP HOKIES

Calvin Johnson caught two touchdown passes as Georgia Tech jumped to a 21-0 first-quarter lead en route to a 38-27 victory at 10th-ranked Virginia Tech. With the win, the Yellow Jackets are the only team in the ACC Coastal Division without a conference loss.

Johnson had six catches for 115 yards, including touchdown passes of three and 53 yards on Tech’s first two possessions. After the Jackets’ Troy Garside blocked a punt, Tashard Choice added a rushing touchdown as Tech needed just 12 snaps to forge a 21-0 lead. Choice finished with 105 yards rushing and two scores.

Georgia Tech’s 38 points represent the most points scored on Virginia Tech since 2002, and the most points scored by a visiting team at Lane Stadium since 1994.

The Georgia Tech defense allowed just 42 yards rushing while collecting four sacks and a touchdown on Gary Guyton’s 38-yard fumble return. Linebackers Philip Wheeler and KaMichael Hall combined for 19 tackles, four sacks, two caused fumbles and two pass breakups.

SEVEN WINS OVER RANKED TEAMS UNDER GAILEY

Georgia Tech recorded the 29th victory in school history over a Top 10 opponent with the Jackets’ 38-29 win at Virginia Tech, which was tied for the 10th spot in last week’s USA Today coaches’ poll.

In the last 13 months, Georgia Tech has won at Auburn, at Miami and at Virginia Tech. The Jackets have defeated at least one nationally-ranked team each of the last 12 seasons (1995-2006).

Last fall, the Jackets opened the season with a 23-14 victory at No. 15 Auburn and then knocked off third-ranked Miami, 14-10, at the Orange Bowl.

Tech’s win over Virginia Tech gives the Jackets seven wins over ranked teams in five seasons under head coach Chan Gailey. Six of the seven victories have been on the road.

In 2004, Gailey’s Jackets won at 18th-ranked Clemson, 28-24, and at 23rd-ranked Maryland, 20-7. In 2002 in Gailey’s first season on the Flats, the Jackets won at eighth-ranked NC State, 24-17. In 2003, Tech knocked off No. 17 Auburn, 17-3, at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.

JOHNSON ON A ROLL

Johnson led the Jackets to a 38-27 victory at 10th-ranked Virginia Tech. He caught six passes for 115 yards, including touchdown catches of three and 53 yards on consecutive drives in the first quarter.

Last week, the junior from Tyrone, Ga., had a career-best 165 yards receiving on six catches with two touchdowns to lead Georgia Tech to a Thursday night victory over Virginia, 24-7. Despite missing the week of practice with a leg injury, Johnson caught the two longest touchdowns of his career on plays of 58 and 66 yards.

In the last two games, Johnson has 11 catches for 280 yards and four touchdowns.

Johnson is one of four nominees in the nation for this week’s Cingular All-America Player of the Week, and his 53-yard touchdown catch that put the Jackets ahead 14-0 is one of four plays nominated for the Pontiac Game-Changing Performance of the Week.

SERIES VS. MARYLAND

Georgia Tech has won two in a row and six of the last eight meetings with Maryland to take a 12-5 lead in the series. The two teams did not play last year, but Tech defeated the Terrapins, 20-7, in 2004 at College Park, a game in which the Jackets held Maryland to just 82 yards of offense. Tech also won the last meeting in Atlanta, 7-3, in 2003. Maryland’s last win in the series was a 34-10 victory in 2002.

Tech holds a 7-1 advantage at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field. The Terps only win in Atlanta was in 2001, a 20-17 overtime decision.

COACHING CONNECTIONS

Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen spent a total of nine years at Georgia Tech as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, serving from 1987-91 under Bobby Ross and then from 1997-2000 under George O’Leary. Friedgen is 2-2 against his former employer.

The Maryland matchup is the first of Tech’s two games this season against former assistant coaches. The Jackets host Duke and Ted Roof on Nov. 18.

Two Maryland assistant coaches also have Georgia Tech connections. Defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo spent two years (1999-00) in the same capacity at Tech. Quarterbacks coach John Donovan was a Tech graduate assistant from 1998-01.

Conversely, Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta served as a graduate assistant at Maryland in 1983.

LINEBACKER TANDEM

The key to Georgia Tech’s defense is the linebacker tandem of senior KaMichael Hall and junior Philip Wheeler.

Wheeler and Hall are one-two on the team in tackles. Wheeler leads the team with 35 hits from his middle linebacker post, and he leads the ACC and ranks eighth in the nation with 8.5 tackles for loss. He is also tied for the ACC lead with four sacks, along with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

The junior from Columbus, Ga., had 13 tackles with two tackles for loss in Tech’s 14-10 loss to Notre Dame as Tech held the Irish to the lowest point total of the Charlie Weis era.

Hall has 31 tackles, three tackles for loss including two sacks, a forced fumble and three pass breakups.

In Tech’s win at 10th-ranked Virginia Tech, Wheeler and Hall combined for 19 tackles, four sacks, two caused fumbles and two pass breakups.

Not to be overshadowed, Tech’s third starting linebacker, junior Gary Guyton, scooped up the fumble that Wheeler caused against Virginia Tech and returned it 38 yards for the touchdown.

CALVINISM

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 already ranks among Tech’s all-time leaders with career totals of 127 receptions, 2,136 yards and 20 touchdowns after just 29 games. His next 100-yard game will tie the Tech career record of 10.

Career Receiving Yards  Years   Yds

1. Kelly Campbell 1998-01 2,907 2. Kerry Watkins 1999-02 2,680 3. Harvey Middleton 1994-97 2,291 4. Jonathan Smith 2000-03 2,238 5. Calvin Johnson 2004- 2,151

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. Calvin Johnson 2004- 127

Career TD Receptions Years TD 1. Kelly Campbell 1998-01 24 2. Kerry Watkins 1999-02 22 3. Calvin Johnson 2004- 20

Career 100-yd games Years G 1. Harvey Middleton 1994-97 10 Kelly Campbell 1998-01 10 3. Calvin Johnson 2004- 9

CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH REC Years G 1. Harvey Middleton 1994-97 40 2. Kelly Campbell 1998-01 32 3. Kerry Watkins 1999-02 29 Calvin Johnson 2004- 29

GARSIDE FROM THE FAR SIDE

Georgia Tech’s victory over 10th-ranked Virginia Tech produced an unlikely hero in Troy Garside. The backup placekicker blocked a punt, giving Tech the ball at the Hokies’ 25-yard line to set up a touchdown that staked the Jackets to a 21-0 first quarter lead.

A walk-on from Jacksonville, Fla., in his third year in the program, Garside was inserted on the punt block unit in the second game of the season.

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 11th in total offense and 17th in passing yards.

GEORGIA TECH CAREER LEADERSPassing Yards   Years   Cmp-Att TD      Yards   ACC

1. Joe Hamilton 1996-99 629-1020 65 8,882 7th 2. Shawn Jones 1989-92 652-1217 51 8,441 9th 3. Reggie Ball 2003- 581-1163 46 7,076 17th

TD Passes Years TD ACC 1. Joe Hamilton 1996-99 65 2nd 2. Shawn Jones 1989-92 51 7th 3.Reggie Ball 2003- 46

Total Offense Years Yards TDR ACC 1. Joe Hamilton 1996-99 10,640 83 2nd 2. Shawn Jones 1989-92 9,296 70 7th 3. Reggie Ball 2003- 8,404 56 11th

NCAA ACTIVE LEADERS Total Offense G Plays Yards TDR 1. Kevin Kolb, Houston 41 1691 11,196 85 2. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame 41 1534 9,817 76 3. Chris Leak, Florida 42 1483 9,614 89 4. Jordan Palmer, UTEP 45 1322 8,727 78 5. John Beck, BYU 36 1387 8,407 59 6. Reggie Ball 41 1588 8,404 56

DURANT DURANT

Junior punter Durant Brooks is off to a very solid start in his Georgia Tech career. The transfer from Georgia Military College is second in the ACC with a 43.3-yard average (19th in the nation). His net of 39.37 leads the ACC and ranks 17th nationally. Seventeen of Brooks’ 30 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.

In the Jackets’ win at 10th-ranked Virginia Tech, Brooks averaged 45.8 yards on five punts, including kicks that were downed at the three- and four yard lines.

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