Sept 7, 2002
By DONNA TOMMELLEO
AP Sports Writer
STORRS, Conn. – Tony Hollings has found his niche.
The quarterback-turned-safety-turned tailback has been turning it on in record fashion for Georgia Tech (2-0).
The 5-foot-10 junior, who was a high school quarterback, ran for four touchdowns to tie a school record and had all 144 of his yards in the first half as Georgia Tech defeated Connecticut 31-14 Saturday.
It was the second straight 100-yard game for Hollings. He rushed for 153 yards last week in his debut in Tech’s 45-3 win over Vanderbilt. He was the first Tech player to rush for 100 yards in his first game at running back.
Hollings saw limited action as reserve defensive back at Tech and made the switch to tailback in the spring. He’s helped coach Chan Gailey get off to a successful start in Gailey’s first year at Tech.
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“Not a bit,” Hollings said. “With the new coaching change and two of our top backs leaving, I thought it was a good opportunity for me to make the transition.”
Hollings’ four touchdowns matched a single-game school record held by five other Yellow Jackets. Joe Burns, the fourth-leading rusher in Tech history, last did it against North Carolina in 2000.
“No one doubted (Hollings’) ability. It was just a question when it would all mesh,” Gailey said.
Hollings scored on runs of 34 and 46 yards, and his other two TDs each came from a yard out.
The game was the first between the two teams. UConn (0-2), playing in its third year in Division I-A, opened its final season at the 16,200-seat Memorial Field. The Huskies will play in a new 40,000-seat stadium in East Hartford next year.
The Huskies were outmatched from the start by the quicker, stronger Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech recovered a fumble in UConn’s opening drive and scored three plays later on Hollings’ 34-yard run three minutes into game.
The Yellow Jackets scored on three of their first four possessions.
“They are everything I thought they would be,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said. “We didn’t play up to the speed of the game earlier on because of their team speed more than anything.”
Hollings’ second TD was a 1-yard run that capped a 61-yard, nine-play drive. His 46-yard score came as time ran out in the first quarter.
Georgia Tech took a 28-0 halftime lead on Hollings’ 1-yard run with 1:04 left in the second quarter.
“We talked about starting fast,” Gailey said. “It was an emphasis for us.”
Georgia Tech had 415 yards of offense, compared to UConn’s 249. Tech had 226 yards on the ground and held UConn to 64 yards rushing.
Tech quarterback A.J. Suggs completed 9 of 14 passes for 136 yards. He had high praise his tailback Hollings.
“That’s back-to-back weeks where he’s come out and just opened it wide open for us,” Suggs said. “It’s great to have somebody of his caliber behind us.”
UConn finally got on the board in the fourth quarter against Tech’s reserves.
Quarterback Keron Henry hit Tommy Collins for a 2-yard score with 6:10 left in the game. UConn quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who started the game, threw a 9-yard TD pass to Brandon Young with 25 seconds left in the game.
“I thought our kids competed all the way to the very end,” Edsall said. “They have a lot of heart. Regardless of who’s on the field, you just want to play hard. That’s all you can do.”