|Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton, center, leaps into the arms of teammate Kerry Watkins after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against Navy in Annapolis, Md., Saturday, Sept. 4, 1999.(AP Photo/John Gillis)|
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Sept. 4) — Senior quarterback Joe Hamilton threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third, and tailback Phillip Rogers added three more scores to lead 10th-ranked Georgia Tech to a convincing 49-14 victory over Navy before a record crowd of 30,311 fans at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis and a national TV audience on the Fox Sports Network.
Hamilton, a Heisman Trophy candidate, got his candidacy off to a strong start, completing 12 of 17 passes for 139 yards and touchdown strikes of 6 yards to freshman Kerry Watkins and 40 yards to sophomore Joe Burns. He also added 39 yards on 11 carries including a 10 scoring romp.
Rogers, a senior from Decatur, Ga., made the most of his first starting opportunity, rushing for 80 yards on 16 carries including short scoring runs of one, one and two yards.
In between, Tech’s defense, despite starting three true freshman for the first time in recent history in defensive end Greg Gathers, linebacker Recardo Wimbush and cornerback Selwyn Scott, kept Navy’s wishbone attack in check.
Gathers, a 6-1, 249-pounder from LaPlace, La., contributed strongly in his first college game, making two quarterback sacks, two others for minus yardage and forcing and recovering a fumble which set up a Tech touchdown.
Tech got on the board first, with senior flanker Dez White taking the opening kickoff back 44 yards. From there, Hamilton engineered a 56-yard, 10-play drive that was capped by a one-yard Rogers run with just 4:31 elapsed in the game.
Navy quickly knotted the score, putting together a 77-0yard drive in 8 plays, the key being a 35-yard pass connection from Middie quarterback Brian Broadwater to Matt O’Donnell. Five plays later, Brittingham scored around left end to tie the score at 7-all with7:42 remaining in the opening stanza.
After an exchange of punts, the Jackets seized a lead they would not relinquish, when Tech marched 34 yards in five plays set up by a 24-yard punt return by freshman defensive back Marvious Hester. Hamilton scampered 10 yards around left end on the fifth play, giving the Jackets a 14-7 advantage with 16 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Jackets were on the march again early in the second quarter, moving 58 yards in 7 plays with Hamilton connecting with freshman wide receiver Kerry Watkins for a six-yard touchdown pass and with 10:31 to go in the half, Tech held a 21-7 lead.
Rogers, Hamilton and Burns then combined to fuel Tech’s final scoring drive of the half, a 63-yard drive in 11 plays with Rogers scoring from one yard out just before intermission for a 28-7 lead.
Tech put the game away midway in the third quarter, marching 75 yards in 9 plays, with the key play a 43 yard run by fullback Ed Wilder. Hamilton added a clutch third down possession pass play from Hamilton to Burns for a key first down. Three plays later, Rogers scored from two yards out for a 35-7 lead with 6:30 remaining.
Navy trimmed the lead to 35-14 moving 90 yards in 14 plays with Broadwater scoring from one yard out. The Midshipmen then recovered an onsides kick and threatened to make a game of it, but Tech’s defense held on a crucial fourth down play when Gathers and Guenter Kryzson stopped Broadwater short of a first down.
Hamilton then drove Tech 72 yards in 7 plays, connecting with Burns for a 40-yard pass play for the score and a 42-14 lead with 12:24 remaining.
From here head coach George O’Leary, who coached the game in the press box, serving a one-game suspension for a secondary NCAA violation, cleared his bench. Sophomore tailback Sean Gregory scored the final touchdown on a 26-yard run with 8:38 remaining for the final 49-14 score.
The 49 points scored by the Jackets were the most by a Tech team on the road since 1913, when a John Heisman-coached Tech team thrashed Chattanooga, 71-6 in Chattanooga. In all, 10 Tech running backs carried the football and six rushed for 35 yards or more.
The game was also marked as the first time a brother combination started in the same game for Tech since Randy and Danny Rhino did so in the 1974 season when Phillip and Nick Rogers, a sophomore linebacker, both started for the Jackets.
The crowd of 30,311 fans was the largest crowd ever in a season-opener at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.