ATLANTA (Oct. 31) — The nation’s leading passer and the country’s top rusher will be on display as seventh-ranked Georgia Tech travels to Virginia for a 3:30 p.m. Atlantic Coast Conference game at David Harrison III Field/Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va. The contest will be regionally televised by ABC-TV (WSB-TV in Atlanta).
The Yellow Jackets, 6-1 overall and in second place in the ACC with a 4-1 conference mark, earned their fifth straight victory with a convincing 48-21 win over NC State. The Cavaliers (4-4, 3-3 ACC) are coming off a 35-10 loss to top-ranked Florida State.
|Split end Dez White (above) and flanker Kelly Campbell are already the third most productive receiving tandem in school history. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)|
While Georgia Tech features Joe Hamilton (Alvin, S.C.), the nation’s leader in passing efficiency (182.1), at quarterback, the Cavaliers boast running back Thomas Jones, who is the NCAA rushing leader with 159.1 yards per game.
“Virginia is an outstanding football team,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary. “There’s no question in my mind that they have the best running back in the country in Thomas Jones. I think we’re still trying to catch him from last year. There are good backs and there are great ones, and he is really a great back.”
Tech leads the nation in scoring and total offense, averaging 516.5 yards and 41.6 points per game behind the talents Hamilton and the receiving duo of Dez White (Orange Park, Fla.) and Kelly Campbell (Atlanta, Ga.).
Hamilton has completed 118 of 177 passes for 1,883 yards and 17 touchdowns. Campbell leads the Jackets with 43 catches for 747 yards and six touchdowns, while White adds 28 receptions for 615 yards (22.0 average) and four scores.
Tech leads the ACC and ranks 11th nationally in rushing with 238.9 yards per game. Tech’s rebuilt backfield now features sophomore Sean Gregory (Homewood, Ill.) at tailback. He has rushed for 466 yards (6.1-yard average) and six touchdowns. Hamilton is the Jackets’ top rusher with 467 yards (4.9 average) and six scores.
The Rambling Wreck defense turned in its best effort of the season in holding the Wolfpack to just 94 yards rushing. Sophomore safety Chris Young (Senoia, Ga.) is Tech’s top tackler with 58 hits and one interception.
“That’s the way we’ve been looking for the defense to play all season,” said O’Leary. “They made plays when they had to make them and kept a team that’s been scoring a lot of points in check.”
THE SERIES WITH VIRGINIA
Georgia Tech has won two of the last three meetings with Virginia to take an 11-9-1 lead in the series, which began in 1965. The last three games have been decided by a total of 13 points. Tech won last year’s game, 41-38, with a 21-point second-half comeback in Atlanta, but Virginia claimed a 35-31 decision in 1997 in Charlottesville.
The Yellow Jackets have dropped the last three meetings at Charlottesville since knocking off the then No. 1-ranked Cavaliers in 1990.
Tech has recorded two wins over Top 10 teams in the 1990s, and both have come at the hands of Virginia and both by the same 41-38 score.
In 1998 in Atlanta in one of the classic games in Georgia Tech annals, the 25th-ranked Yellow Jackets rallied from a 21-point deficit in the second half to upend sixth-ranked Virginia, 41-38, on Dez White’s 54-yard touchdown reception with 4:40 to play. Tech trailed 38-17 before beginning its comeback on a 34-yard fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker Delaunta Cameron. Then White, who caught six passes for a school-record 243 yards and three touchdowns, hauled in two long scoring passes from Joe Hamilton in the final eight minutes. Hamilton completed 11 of 23 passes for 288 yards.
The 1997 meeting in Charlottesville was also a shootout as the Cavaliers won 35-31, scoring the winning touchdown on a one-yard run by Anthony Southern with just 1:16 left. Virginia quarterback Aaron Brooks threw four touchdown passes to upstage Hamilton, who completed 21 of 26 passes for 337 yards.
HAMILTON A FINALIST FOR UNITAS AWARD
Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton is one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to the nation’s top senior quarterback by the Frank Camp Chapter of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation.
Along with Hamilton, the group of finalists includes Tee Martin of Tennessee, Chad Pennington of Marshall, Tim Rattay of Louisiana Tech and Chris Redman of Louisville.
With three touchdown passes in last Saturday’s win over NC State, quarterback Joe Hamilton broke the Georgia Tech career records for touchdown passes and touchdown responsibility, eclipsing Shawn Jones in both categories.
Hamilton now has 53 touchdown passes, breaking Jones’ mark of 51. He ranks fifth in ACC history, four behind the record of 57, now shared by NC State’s Jamie Barnette and former Florida State quarterback Danny Kanell.
Hamilton has accounted for 71 touchdowns rushing and passing to surpass Jones’ Tech standard of 70. Hamilton is tied with Barnette for second place in ACC history behind former Virginia signal caller Shawn Moore (83).
POISED FOR ANOTHER MILESTONE
Quarterback Joe Hamilton enters this week’s game against Virginia with 9,196 yards of total offense in his career, exactly 100 yards behind the Georgia Tech and Atlantic Coast Conference record of 9,296 yards, set by Shawn Jones from 1989-92.
GREGORY STEPS IN AT TAILBACK
Sean Gregory began the season as Tech’s third-team tailback but is now the starter after season-ending injuries to starters Joe Burns and Phillip Rogers.
Gregory made his second start last week against NC State, and just as he did in his first start, he topped the 100-yard mark. The sophomore from Homewood, Ill., rushed 22 times for 113 yards and one touchdown against the Wolfpack. Earlier this season, he started against Central Florida and rushed for a career-high 150 yards on 22 carries with touchdowns of seven and two yards.
Gregory is Tech’s second leading rusher with 466 yards on 77 carries (6.1-yard average) and six touchdowns, including the game-winner against Duke on a 19-yard run with 2:56 left. He ranks seventh in the ACC in rushing.
CAMPBELL CATCHES ON Flanker Kelly Campbell continues to make big plays for the Yellow Jackets. The sophomore from Atlanta scored three touchdowns in Tech’s win over NC State on scoring passes of 11 and 39 yards as well as a 17-yard reverse play.
Campbell is Tech’s leading receiver with 43 catches for 747 yards and six touchdowns. He leads the ACC and ranks seventh in the nation with 106.7 receiving yards per game.
Over the last three games-Tech victories over North Carolina, Duke and NC State-Campbell has caught 24 passes for 477 yards and scored five touchdowns.
With four games to play, split end Dez White and flanker Kelly Campbell are already the third most productive receiving tandem in school history.
TOP RECEIVING TANDEMS IN TECH HISTORY
1,464 Harvey Middleton (839) & Derrick Steagall (625), 1997
1,370 John Sias (902) & Joel Stevenson (468), 1968
1,362 Kelly Campbell (747) & Dez White (615), 1999