Nov. 6, 2006
ATLANTA- Needing one victory to clinch a berth in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game, No. 18 Georgia Tech makes its second straight trip to Tobacco Road to take on North Carolina in a 12 noon contest Saturday at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The game will be regionally televised on the Lincoln-Financial ACC network (WUPA in Atlanta).
Georgia Tech won its second straight game with a 31-23 victory at NC State Saturday. At 7-2 overall, 5-1 in the ACC, the Yellow Jackets stand atop the ACC Coastal Division and need one win in their final two conference games (at North Carolina, home vs. Duke) to clinch the spot in the Dec. 1 championship game.
Ranked No. 18 in the USA Today coaches’ poll and No. 19 by Associated Press, Georgia Tech is bowl eligible for the 10th straight year, giving the Jackets the chance to extend their school-record bowl streak. Tech’s 7-2 record is its best after eight games since 2000.
North Carolina (1-8, 0-5) is looking for its first ACC win after falling at Notre Dame, 45-26.
Calvin Johnson, Tech’s all-America wide receiver, leads the ACC in receptions with 49 (5.44 per game) and receiving yards with 795 (88.3 pg). His 11 touchdown receptions, a new Tech season record, rank third in the nation.
Sophomore James Johnson, Calvin’s running mate at wide receiver, has stepped up with 13 catches and four touchdowns over the last three games. For the season, the “other” Johnson has 28 catches for 409 yards and five scores, including two against the Wolfpack.
Senior quarterback Reggie Ball has completed 90 of 181 passes for 1,234 yards and 13 touchdowns with six interceptions. He is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 303 yards and two scores. His 13 touchdown passes lead the ACC.
Tailback Tashard Choice leads Tech and stands third in the ACC with 821 yards rushing on 176 attempts and seven touchdowns. He has topped the 100-yard mark in four of the last five games, and he has an ACC-best average of 107.5 yards per game in conference games. As a team, Tech is second in the league in rushing (163.1) and fourth in scoring (26.7 ppg).
Linebackers KaMichael Hall and Philip Wheeler lead the Tech defense with 64 and 62 tackles, respectively. Wheeler is second in the ACC and 15th nationally with 8.0 sacks, and he also ranks fourth in the league with 12.5 tackles for loss.
The Tech defense has allowed just one offensive touchdown in the last two games in leading the Jackets to victories over Miami and NC State.
SERIES VS. NORTH CAROLINA
Georgia Tech has won seven of the last eight meetings with North Carolina to take a 21-17-3 lead in the series, which began in 1915 with a 23-3 Tech victory.
Tech won last year’s game 27-23, in Atlanta, while the Tar Heels captured the last meeting in Chapel Hill, 34-14 in 2004. The Jackets’ last win at Kenan Stadium was a 21-13 decision in 2002.
Tech has a 7-10-3 record in all games in Chapel Hill. The Jackets have won three of the last four games there, but before its 1998 win, Tech had a nine-game winless streak at Kenan Stadium. That included a 13-13 tie in 1990 that was the only blemish on Tech’s national championship season.
Georgia Tech’s all-everything wide receiver Calvin Johnson’s continues to assert himself as one of the nation’s top players. His latest eye-popping performance came against NC State with nine catches for a career-best 168 yards and two touchdowns. He caught touchdown passes of 25 and 43 yards in the first quarter, had a key third-down conversion on the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter, then set up the clinching touchdown with a 33-yard reception down to the eight-yard line. In addition to his own production, the attention that he drew from the defense allowed Tech tailback Tashard Choice to rush for 164 yards.
Johnson is THIRD IN THE NATION with 11 touchdown catches on the season, a Tech season record. He has caught 11 of Tech’s 17 TD passes.
He leads the ACC in receptions (49, 5.44 pg) and receiving yards (795, 88.3 pg – 13th in the nation).
Johnson is a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award as Collegiate Player of the Year and for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver.
In each of its last three victories, Georgia Tech entered the fourth quarter behind before rallying.
In last Saturday’s 31-23 win at NC State, Tech trailed 23-21 before scoring 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter on a Travis Bell field goal and then a Reggie Ball-to-James Johnson TD pass with 2:24 left.
In Tech’s win over Miami, the Jackets fell behind 10-0 early and trailed 16-13 after three quarters before scoring 17 straight points, including a one-yard scoring pass from Reggie Ball to Calvin Johnson and a 24-yard touchdown run by Tashard Choice.
Two games earlier, Tech trailed Maryland 23-14 before scoring two touchdowns in 83 seconds early in the fourth quarter on runs by Ball and Choice. Tech had to survive a threat when Maryland had first-and-goal at the seven in the final minute before Michael Johnson came up with sacks on third and fourth downs. Earlier this season againt Troy, Tech entered the fourth quarter tied at 14-all before scoring three touchdowns in a five-minute span to take control.
In five seasons under head coach Chan Gailey, the Jackets have won 12 games in which they entered the fourth quarter tied or behind.
Game Entering 4thQ Final
BYU 2002 Trailing 14-19 W 28-19 NC State 2002 Trailing 9-10 W 24-17 Vanderbilt 2003 Tied 10-10 W 24-17 OT Maryland 2003 Trailing 0-3 W 7-3 North Carolina 2003 Tied 17-14 W 41-24 Clemson 2004 Trailing 7-10 W 28-24 NC State 2004 Trailing 7-14 W 24-14 Clemson 2005 Tied 3-3 W 10-9 Troy 2006 Tied 14-14 W 35-20 Maryland 2006 Trailing 23-14 W 27-23 Miami 2006 Trailing 13-16 W 30-23 NC State 2006 Trailing 21-23 W 31-23
DURANT DURANT, PUNTER IS SEMIFINALIST FOR GUY AWARD
Junior punter Durant Brooks is a strong candidate for all-America honors and was named last week as one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter.
Brooks LEADS THE NATION in net punting at 41.13 yards per kick. His gross average of 44.7 yards per kick lead the ACC and ranks 9th in the nation. Twenty-four of his 53 punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line.
Guy is a native of Thomson, Ga., and a mentor for Brooks, who attended the former NFL star’s kicking camps. A transfer from Georgia Military College, Brooks has become a very effective weapon in his first season in a Georgia Tech uniform. Tech’s punt coverage also deserves credit; only 22 of Brooks’ punts have been returned, for an average of just 4.0 yards.
Brooks played a key role in the Jackets’ win over Miami, when he averaged 50.8 yards with a net of 45.2 on six punts. He boomed a 63-yard punt when Tech was backed up at its own one-yard line. Then, with Tech holding a seven-point lead and trying to run out the clock, he nailed a 53-yard kick to the 16-yard line, which Miami fumbled to end the game. He was named ACC Specialist of the Week.
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.
With a 5-1 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Georgia Tech will finish with an ACC record of .500 or better for the 12th straight year.
Tech is one of just seven schools in NCAA Division I-A to post a conference record of .500 or better every year from 1995-2005. The others are Florida State, Florida, Michigan, Southern Mississippi, Toledo and Miami (Ohio). Among ACC schools, Clemson has the next longest current streak after Tech and FSU with seven straight years of .500 or better, entering 2006.
Since 1995, Tech has won more ACC games (58) than any school except Florida State (80).
Tashard Choice ranks third in the ACC in rushing, averaging 91.22 yards per game. He has 821 yards and seven touchdowns in nine games. He is averaging a league-leading 107.5 yards in ACC games.
Choice has 100-yard efforts in four of the last five games, including a career-best 164 yards to lead Tech to a 31-23 win at NC State.
The junior from Riverdale, Ga., began his hot streak with 105 yars and two touchdowns in the Jackets’ win at Virginia Tech. Then he rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns to lead Tech to a 27-23 victory over Maryland. His 15-yard TD run in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winning score.
He added 107 yards in the Jackets’ win over Miami, again scoring the winning points on a 24-yard, fourth-quarter TD run. He gained 64 of his yards in the fourth quarter as he became the only back this season to gain 100 yards on the Hurricanes. Choice’s 24-yard touchdown run against Miami was one of the nominees for the Pontiac Game-Changing Performance of the Week.
The junior from Riverdale, Ga., has raised his Tech career rushing total to 1,334 yards to rank 22nd in school history. Choice also had 100 yards as a freshman at Oklahoma for a career total of 1,434 yards.
ON THE DEFENSIVE
In Georgia Tech’s last three victories, wins over Maryland, Miami and NC State, the Rambling Wreck defense has allowed just two offensive touchdowns, one of which came after a Tech fumble at its own eight-yard line.
On the season, the Tech defense has allowed 15 touchdowns in nine games. The Jackets have held five opponents (Samford, Virginia, Maryland, Miami and NC State) to one offensive touchdown or loss.
THE “OTHER” JOHNSON
Everyone knows about Georgia Tech’s all-America wide receiver Calvin Johnson, and now fans are beginning to learn about the “other” receiver named Johnson, sophomore James.
For the season, James has 28 catches for 409 yards (14.6-yard average) and five scores. Over the last three games, he has 13 receptions for 184 yards and four touchdowns, covering 35, 46, 25 and seven yards.
The two Johnsons have accounted for 77 of Tech’s 117 pass completions, 1,204 of 1,552 passing yards and 16 of the team’s 17 TD passes.
THE OTHER, “OTHER JOHNSON”
Like Calvin, the 6-7, 245-pound Michael is off the charts in terms of athletic ability. Although he does not start, he is second on the team in sacks with four. His biggest impact came against Maryland, when he sacked Terp quarterback Sam Hollenback on consecutive plays on third and fourth down inside the Tech 10-yard line in the final minute of the Jackets’ 27-23 win.
ON THE BALL
Senior quarterback Reggie Ball is playing the best football of his career. He is second in the ACC in total offense, averaging 196.44 yards per game, including 161.0 yards passing and 35.4 yards rushing per game.
Ball leads the ACC with 17 touchdown passes, and he also has two rushing TDs.
Ball’s 17 touchdown passes are a career-best, equalling the fourth-best season total in school history.
GEORGIA TECH SEASON LEADERSTouchdown Passes Year TD1. Joe Hamilton 1999 292. George Godsey 2000 233. George Godsey 2001 184. Joe Hamilton 1998 17 Reggie Ball 2006 17
BULLISH ON BULL
One of the unsung heroes of the Georgia Tech offense is fullback Mike Cox. Although he has carried the ball just four times in his career (no carries since 2004), his blocking is a crucial to the Tech rushing attack. Nicknamed “Bull,” the 6-1, 245-pound junior is the classic, old-school blocking back.
Cox is Tech’s fourth-leading receiver with five catches for 53 yards. He had two crucial catches on second-half scoring drives in Tech’s win over Miami. Against Troy, his diving, one-yard touchdown catch on fourth down broke a 14-14 fourth-quarter tie and Tech went on to win 35-20.
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.
With two touchdown catches against NC State, Johnson tied the Georgia Tech career record of 24, originally set by Kelly Campbell. He also recorded his 11th career 100-yard game against the Wolfpack to set another Tech record. Johnson ranks third in Tech history in receiving yards and fifth in receptions.
GEORGIA TECH CAREER LEADERS
Receptions Years Rec ACC 1. Kelly Campbell 1998-01 195 5th 2. Jonathan Smith 2000-03 174 13th 3. Kerry Watkins 1999-02 171 T-14th 4. Harvey Middleton 1994-97 165 T-19th 5. Calvin Johnson 2004- 151 27th
THE IMPACT OF CALVIN
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Calvin Johnson to the Georgia Tech passing game. In his career, he has accounted for 40 percent of Tech’s passing yards and 30 percent of the team’s completions while catching 22 of the Jackets’ 42 touchdown passes.
Completions Tech CJ Pct
2004 169 48 28.4% 2005 197 54 27.4% 2006 117 49 41.9% Total 483 151 31.3%
Passing Yards Tech CJ Pct 2004 2210 837 37.9% 2005 2343 888 37.9% 2006 1552 795 51.2% Total 6105 2520 41.3%
TD Tech CJ Pct 2004 17 7 41.2% 2005 12 6 50.0% 2006 17 11 64.7% Total 46 24 52.2%
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 career passing yards and total offense, 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.
With four touchdown passes against NC State, Ball moved ahead of Jones and into second place in Tech history with 54 in his career.
In ACC annals, Ball currently stands 9th in total offense, 11th in TD passes and 13th in passing yards.
GEORGIA TECH CAREER LEADERS
TD Passes Years TD ACC 1. Joe Hamilton 1996-99 65 2nd 2.Reggie Ball 2003- 54 11th
NCAA ACTIVE LEADERS Total Offense G Plays Yards TDR 1. Kevin Kolb, Houston 46 1883 12,725 96 2. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame 45 1704 10,989 89 3. Chris Leak, Florida 46 1600 10,250 94 4. Jordan Palmer, UTEP 50 1466 9,961 87 5. John Beck, BYU 40 1471 9,494 72 6. Reggie Ball 45 1736 9,173 65
ACC CAREER LEADERS Career Total Offense Years Rush Pass TDR Total 1. Philip Rivers, NCS 2000-03 98 13,484 112 13,583 2. Joe Hamilton, GT 1996-99 1,758 8,882 83 10,640 3. C. Whitehurst, Clem 2002-05 94 9,665 59 9,759 4. Jamie Barnette, NCS 1996-99 177 9,461 74 9,638 5. Chris Weinke, FSU 1997-00 -366 9,839 83 9,473 6. Darian Durant, UNC 2001-04 875 8,755 79 9,630 7. Shawn Jones, GT 1989-92 855 8,441 70 9,296 8. Chris Rix, FSU 2001-04 823 8,390 75 9,213 9. Reggie Ball, GT 2003- 1,416 7,757 65 9,173