|Georgia Tech fans rip down the goal posts at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta Saturday after Tech’s 51-48 overtime victory over Georgia. (AP Photo/Erik S. Lesser)|
ATLANTA, GA. (Nov. 27) — In a game for the ages, Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Hamilton passed and ran for 438 yards and four touchdowns and freshman placekicker Luke Manget booted home a game-winning 38-yard field goal in the first overtime period as 16th-ranked Georgia Tech overcame its own mistakes and an inspired 20th-ranked Georgia team to score a dramatic 51-48 overtime victory over its arch-rival before a sellout crowd of 46,450 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.
The victory, which boosted Tech’s record to 8-3 on the year, put the Jackets into this year’s Toyota Gator Bowl in Jacksonville’s Alltell Stadium on January 1, 2000.
The game which featured records by the bushload, heroes by the carload and turning points by the truckload turned on an incredible chain of events over the final minutes of regulation play and in the first overtime.
Georgia, which had come from behind a 41-24 Tech lead late in the third quarter, appeared to have the game won in regulation. After Tech tied the score at 48-all on a six-yard touchdown pass play from Hamilton to Will Glover with just 2:37 remaining in the game, the Bulldogs marched to a first and goal at the Tech two-yard line with just 20 seconds remaining. Rather than opting for what would be the game-winning field goal, Georgia head coach Jim Donnan eschewed kicking and ran tailback Jasper Sanks up the middle in search of a touchdown.
Sanks, though, was ruled to have fumbled in the pile before his knee hit the ground and Tech strong safety Chris Young recovered for the Jackets to prevent almost certain defeat.
With just five seconds remaining, Hamilton then took ran the clock out forcing overtime. Tech won the toss and opted to defend the south goal. Georgia quarterback Quincy Carter connected with Jermaine Phillps on a seven yard pass play and, after a pass incompletion, tailback Robert Arnaud gained a first down at the Tech 14. But on the next play, Tech defensive back Marvious Hester, who’s two fourth-quarter mistakes helped allow the Bulldogs to get back in the game, stepped in front of Georgia tight end Randy McMichael and intercepted a Carter pass ending the Bulldog’s possession.
Tech, in its turn, wasted no time. First tailback Sean Gregory ran for gains of six and two yards to the Georgia 19. Then, Tech head coach George O’Leary opted to go for the game-winning kick on third down. But Manget’s 38-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Georgia linebacker Kendrell Bell.
Tech holder and bcakup quarterback George Godsey made one of the great hustle plays of the game, grabbing the blocked kick and returning it to the Georgia 21. Since Tech had tried the field goal on third down, the Jackets retained possession and, given a reprieve, Manget was true from 38 yards out to win the game, Manget’s kick, his third field goal of the day, touched off a wild celebration as Tech fans stormed the field and tore down the goal posts.
“What can you say,” said a drained, but happy Tech head coach George O’Leary. “It was an exciting game. It’s a good game for Tech, a good ball game, instate game, we kept it like we have the past two years (down to the wire). There was a little more scoring today, but we kept it right down to the end of the game. I think both teams made some mistakes to let people back into the game, and fortunately enough, they made one last.
“I’m glad I sent Manget out there on third down to try that field goal instead of on fourth down, and got another chance to make it and win the game. I thought both teams played well on offense, but both teams had trouble stopping each other.”
Tech, which gained its second straight victory over its arch-rival with a last second field goal, got on the board first in this game with a field goal by Manget. After a short punt by Georgia punter Wynn Kopp, Hamilton completed a 22-yard pass to flanker Dez White at the Georgia 32. But two runs by tailback Sean Gregory, who totaled 80 yards in 23 carries on the day, netted just five yards. Manget came in to squib a low kick which traveled 45 yards and gave Tech a 3-0 lead with 6:22 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Jackets barely escaped disaster on Georgia’s next possession. After Carter overthrew a wide-open McMichael, Hester fumbled a Kopp punt at his own 18. In the ensuing wild scramble for the football, Tech’s Jamara Clark recovered it at the Tech one.
The Jackets, though, failed to move the football and when a Dan Dyke punt traveled only to the Tech 34, Georgia was in excellent field position. But Tech’s defense, which allowed only 76 yards of total offense in the first quarter, stiffened at the Tech 13 and Hap Hines came on to tie the game with a 30-yard field goal with 58 seconds.
The Jackets, though, took control of game needing only 47 seconds to answer the Georgia score. First, Hamilton completed an 8-yard pass to Kelly Campbell, then runs by fullback Ed Wilder and flanker Kerry Watkins gained 13 yards. Hamilton, then found Campbell open behind the Bulldog secondary for a 47-yard touchdown pass play, and with just 11 seconds remaining in the opening stanza, Tech held a 10-3 lead.
Campbell’s catch, his 10th TD pass reception of the year, set a new Tech single-season mark, breaking the previous record of 9 set in 1972 by Jimmy Robinson and tied in 1998 by Dez White. Campbell, who would total 6 catches on the day for 92 yards despite missing much of the fourth quarter with an ankle sprain, also finished with school single-season records in both categories with 69 receptions for 1,105 yards.
Tech added to that on its next possession, marching 69 yards in nine plays with Hamilton running for 24 yards on the march and throwing for 40. Gregory capped the drive off with a one yard run off left tackle for a 17-3 lead with 10:26 remaining in the half.
Georgia wasted very little time in responding-just 27 seconds in fact–though, as Carter found McMichael wide open behind Tech’s defense and the freshman tight end eluded Tech free safety Jeremy Muyres for a 71-yard touchdown play and with 9:59 remaining before intermission, Tech led 17-10.
Carter, who completed 29 of 55 passes on the day for 345 yards, got the Bulldogs going on their next possession, marching them 77 yards in nine plays to tie the game on a 19-yard run by Arnaud with 4:01 remaining in the first half.
Hamilton, though, then guided the Jackets 80 yards in nine plays with Gregory again scoring from one yard out for the touchdown which gave Tech a 24-17 lead it took into the locker room at halftime.
The Jackets continued their offensive explosion in the early part of the third quarter, as Tech marched 68 yards in 11 plays on the opening possession of the second half. But when the Tech drive stalled at the Georgia 12, Manget came in to boot home a 29-yard field goal and with 10:55 remaining, Tech held a 27-17 advantage.
The Jackets quickly added to that. On its next possession, a Carter pass was intercepted at the Georgia 26 by Travares Tillman and returned to the Georgia 17. Hamilton promptly connected with White for a 17-yard touchdown pass play and with 10:28 remaining, Tech held a 34-17 lead. White, who managed nine pass receptions for 165 yards on the day, tied a Tech career touchdown pass reception record as the score was the 14th of his career, matching the previous mark set originally by Buck Martin in 1950-51 and tied by Gary Lee (1983-86).
Georgia again responded, marching 69 yards in eight plays on its next possession with Arnaud scoring from two yards out and with 6:29 remaining in the quarter, Tech’s lead stood at 34-24.
But the Jackets, with Hamilton completing three passes on the march, including a five-yard touchdown strike to tight end Conrad Andrejewski, Tech marched 72 yards in only seven plays. And with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter, Tech held a commanding 41-24 lead. The drive, though, proved to be costly for Tech, as freshman wide receiver Kerry Watkins was thrown out of the game after he and Georgia defensive end Dustin Luckie were detected fighting. Luckie, who initiated the altercation, was also tossed out of the game.
Tech, though, appeared to finally have the game in hand, as its defense, with end Felipe Claybrooks sacking Carter for an 11-yard loss on third down, stopped the Bulldogs and forcing a Georgia punt. But Hester again muffed a Kopp punt and the ball was recovered by Georgia’s Jermaine Phillips at the Tech 10. On the next play from scrimmage, Carter sprinted around left end for the score, trimming Tech’s lead to 41-31 with still 1:34 remaining in the quarter.
The loss of Watkins and the increased intensity of Georgia’s defense forced Tech to punt after just three plays and again, the Bulldogs were on the march traveling 65 yards in only eight plays. Sanks capped the march, scoring from 15-yards out, taking a pitchout from Carter around right end for the score and with 13 minutes left in the game, Georgia had pulled to within three points at 41-38.
Again Tech could not move and was forced to punt. Georgia then ripped off a 69-yard drive in 10 plays. But the drive stalled at the Tech six, when a Carter pass for Thad Parker in the end zone was caught out of bounds. But then Hines then came in and connected on a 23-yard field goal to tie the game at 41-all.
On Tech’s next play from scrimmage, a Hamilton pass intended for flanker Jon Muyres was deflected into the air and intercepted by Georgia defensive back Cap Burnett at the Tech 46. From there, it took Carter just five plays to find the end zone. On a third and six play from the Tech 30, Carter found the jackets in a blitz and connected with tight end Jevaris Johnson, who broke the tackle of Tillman and ran down the far sideline for 30 yards and a touchdown for a 48-41 lead with only 5:12 remaining.
But Hamilton, playing in the final home game of his collegiate career, would not let Tech roll over.
The senior signal caller guided the Jackets 68 yards in only seven plays completing passes of 15 yards to Glover and 32 yards to White to gain a first and goal situation at the Georgia seven. When two plays netted but one yard, Hamilton connected with Glover for a six-yard scoring pass and with just 2:37 remaining in the game, the score was again tied at 48-all setting up game-winning heroics.
The total of 99 points in the game was the most points scored by both teams in the history of the 95-game Tech-Georgia series. Tech’s 51 points total was its highest ever against its arch-rival, while Georgia’s 48 points against Tech were the most ever by an opponent in a Tech victory.
Joe Hamilton’s 438 yards of total offense gave him 3,794 yards for the year, allowing him to break the Atlantic Coast Conference single-season total offense record previously held by Duke’s Anthony Dilweg, he also set the dsingle season ACC mark for Touchdown Responsibility with 35.
Hamilton also tied the ACC career mark for TDR, finishing his career with 83, tying the previous mark of 83 set by Virginia’s Shawn Moore.
Tech also set single-season records for most yards of total offense (508.4), most yards of passing offense (283.4 avg.), most points in a season in the modern era (448) and most touchdowns (59).
The victory for Tech was its second in overtime of the year after not experiencing an overtime game in the previous three seasons. Earlier this year, Tech defeated North Carolina in overtime.
The Bobby Dodd Stadium crowd of 46,450 was the most to see a game at Tech since 1985 when the stadium was reduced in size.
Placekicker Luke Manget, who totaled 15 points on the day with three field goals and six PAT’s set a Tech single-season record for points by kicking with 86, shattering the previous mark of 84 points set by Scott Sisson in 1990.
With the loss, Georgia completed its regular season at 7-4.