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NC State Visits No. 25 Tech for Homecoming

Oct. 14, 2001

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech looks to regroup from a disappointing loss as the 25th-ranked Yellow Jackets host Atlantic Coast Conference foe NC State Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.

The game, Tech’s Homecoming contest, will be regionally televised on ABC (WSB-TV in Atlanta) and can 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.

“We’re coming off a very tough loss, our second overtime loss that really never should have gotten to overtime,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary following the Jackets’ 20-17 defeat by 20th-ranked Maryland last Thursday.

The loss dropped Tech’s record to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the ACC. NC State, coming off a 45-37 loss to Clemson, is now 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the conference.

“I don’t think anybody feels worse about those two losses than I do, but the key is that we have six games left,” continued O’Leary. “We have the second half of the season to play, and we have to move on and play the way we’re supposed to play.

“We have to move forward and get ready to play a very dangerous NC State team that is coming off a tough loss, too.

“Obviously their quarterback, Philip Rivers, is throwing the ball very well, and they have some excellent receivers.”

Tech quarterback George Godsey (Tampa, Fla.) ranks eighth in the nation in pass efficiency with a 162.8 rating. He has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,115 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. He leads an offense that ranks ninth in the nation in both scoring (39.8) and yardage (460.0).

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 is second in the ACC in both receptions (34 catches/6.8 per game) and receiving yards (479/95.8 per game), while junior Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.) has 19 catches for 336 yards but leads the team in touchdown catches (4) and yards per catch (17.7).

Burns, the ACC’s fourth-leading rusher, is the backfield workhorse with 515 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on 124 attempts. Junior Sidney Ford (Lindale, Ga.) has shown promise, rushing for 274 yards and one TD.

The Tech defense is led by the all-star defensive end tandem of junior Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.) and senior Nick Rogers (East Point, Ga.). Gathers leads the Jackets with eight sacks, 13 tackles for loss and two fumbles caused. Rogers adds seven tackles for loss and three sacks. Linebacker Recardo Wimbush (Blakely, Ga.) is Tech’s top tackler with 47.

Placekicker Luke Manget, a junior from Conyers, Ga., is one of the nation’s best. The ACC’s leading scorer is perfect on extra points (22-for-22) and 10-for-12 on field goals.

NC State is led by sophomore quarterback Philip Rivers, who has passed for 1,254 yards and nine touchdowns. His favorite target is split end Bryan Peterson with 28 catches for 424 yards and two scores. Tailback Ray Robinson adds 300 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

The Wolfpack defense features linebacker Levar Fisher, the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year, although he suffered a sprained knee against Clemson and is questionable this week.

GEORGIA TECH VS. NC STATE

Georgia Tech has won five of the last six meetings with NC State, but the Wolfpack captured last year’s game, 30-23 in overtime in a Thursday night game in Raleigh. Tech holds a 12-8 lead in the series, which began in 1918 with a 128-0 victory by the Yellow Jackets.

Tech has won eight of the 10 games in Atlanta, including a 48-21 decision in 1999 in the last meeting here. NC State’s only wins at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field were in 1988 (14-6) and 1984 (27-22).

LAST MEETING WITH NC STATE

Philip Rivers’ 23-yard touchdown pass to Koren Robinson in the first overtime gave NC State a 30-23 overtime victory over Georgia Tech in a Thursday night game in Raleigh. Rivers rallied the Wolfpack from a 13-0 halftime deficit to a 23-16 lead with less than five minutes to play. Tech answered behind quarterback George Godsey, who drove the Jackets 50 yards in 10 plays for the tying score, a seven-yard touchdown pass to Kerry Watkins with 1:20 left. After NC State regained the lead on its overtime possession, Tech’s last chance ended when Watkins could not hang on to Godsey’s fourth-down pass at the five-yard line. Godsey completed 24 of 43 passes for 226 yards and Joe Burns rushed for 100 yards and one touchdown for the Jackets.

HOMECOMING GAMES

Georgia Tech has a 38-13-1 record in Homecoming games, including five straight wins. The only other time that Tech has hosted NC State for Homecoming was 1997, when the Yellow Jackets won, 27-17.

CAMPBELL SWEEPS RECEIVING RECORDS

With nine catches against Maryland, Kelly Campbell added another Georgia Tech record to his resume. Already Georgia Tech’s career leader in receiving yards and touchdown catches, Campbell broke the record for career receptions against the Terps as he passed Harvey Middleton (165, 1994-97). Campbell now has 173 catches for 2,678 yards and 23 touchdowns.

In ACC annals, Campbell ranks eighth in receiving yards, ninth in receptions and 10th in touchdown receptions.

GATHERS GATHERS SACKS

With his next sack, defensive end Greg Gathers will become Georgia Tech’s career leader. Gathers has eight sacks in the first six games, giving the junior all-America candidate 28 for his career, just one-half sack behind record-holder Coleman Rudolph (28.5).

Gathers, who passed Washington Redskins’ All-Pro Marco Coleman (27.5) last game, also stands one behind Rudolph with 51 career tackles for loss.

Gathers, who ranked third in the nation last season with 13 sacks, was named to the preseason Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List for the nation’s top lineman/linebacker. He is also a preseason second-team all-America and first-team all-ACC selection by Athlon Sports and Lindy’s.

CAREER LEADERS: QB SACKS1.      Coleman Rudolph 1989-92 28.52.      Greg Gathers 1999-   283.      Marco Coleman   1989-91 27.5

CAREER LEADERS: TACKLES FOR LOSS 1. Coleman Rudolph 1989-92 52 2. Greg Gathers 1999- 51 3. Marco Coleman 1989-91 50

JUGGLING LINEBACKERS

After playing Maryland without its top two middle linebackers, Georgia Tech hopes for the return this week of starter Daryl Smith. One of Tech’s top defenders, Smith suffered a dislocated left elbow in the first half against Clemson and missed the next two games. His replacement, Ather Brown, is likely out for the year after injuring his left foot against Duke.

Senior Ross Mitchell started and played the entire game against Maryland after moving to linebacker just four days earlier. Mitchell started at linebacker in 1999 but moved to fullback last season. Either Mitchell or Smith will start this week.

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 four games this season in which he has played in the fourth quarter, the senior from Tampa, Fla., has completed 18 of 25 passes for 229 yards.

In both of Tech’s overtime losses, Godsey guided the Yellow Jackets from behind in the fourth quarter.

Against Clemson, Godsey led Tech to two touchdowns and a field goal in the final 10 minutes to force overtime. Against Maryland, he directed the Jackets to a fourth quarter touchdown and field goal that put Tech ahead 17-14 with six minutes to play after trailing 14-0 at the half.

Last season, Godsey hit 53 of 72 passes (74 percent) for 607 yards and 10 touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

In 13 games over the last two seasons in which he has played in the fourth quarter, Godsey is 71-for-97 (73 percent) for 836 yards with 11 TD and two interceptions.

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