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No. 8 Tech Faces Duke in ACC Road Test

CoachO’Leary’s Comments [RealAudio]

ATLANTA (Oct. 10) – The eighth-ranked Georgia Tech football team travels to Durham, N.C. Saturday for an Atlantic Coast Conference road game at Duke. Kickoff at Wallace Wade Stadium is at 12 noon, and the game will be regionally televised on the Jefferson-Pilot/ACC network (Fox Sports Net South in Atlanta).

Both teams are coming off overtime victories. Tech (4-1, 2-1 ACC) drove from its own two-yard line for the game-tying field goal in the final 1:10 and then defeated North Carolina, 31-24, in the first overtime in school history. Duke (1-4, 1-1 ACC) scored the tying touchdown with just six seconds left in regulation and then earned its first win of the season with a 24-17 victory over Virginia.

“I thought Duke, with 16 starters returning, would be someone to be reckoned with, so their win over Virginia did not surprise me at all,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary.

“Coming off a game that we were very fortunate to win, the team knows exactly what we have to get accomplished this week before facing Duke.”

Tech, which has won 14 of its last 16 games and 17 of its last 21 games, leads the nation this week in total offense, averaging 515.8 yards per game. Last week, Tech also led the country in scoring but this week the Jackets are third with 41.0 points per game, behind Louisville and Florida State.

Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton leads the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 191.24, far ahead of second place Chad Pennington of Marshall (157.6). In five games he has completed 67.5 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Also Tech’s leading rusher with 321 yards and six touchdowns, the senior from Alvin, S.C., ranks third nationally in total offense with 333.6 yards per game.

Hamilton’s favorite targets are Tech’s trio of wide receivers, junior Dez White (Orange Park, Fla.), 19 catches, 25.1-yard avg., three TD; sophomore Kelly Campbell (Atlanta, Ga.), 26 catches, 18.2 avg., four TD; and redshirt freshman Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.), 11 catches, 15.7 avg., three TD.

The tailback position is shared by sophomore Sean Gregory (Homewood, Ill.) 312 yards (6.8 average) and four touchdowns, and senior Phillip Rogers (East Point, Ga.), 228 yards (4.1 avg.) and six touchdowns. They run behind a veteran line, led by senior tackle Jon Carman (Waldorf, Md.) that helps Tech rank eighth nationally in rushing (242.0).

Duke quarterback Spencer Romine returned from a shoulder injury to pass for 246 yards in the win over Virginia, including the winning touchdown in overtime.

Romine throws to a pair of speedy receivers in Scottie Montgomery, 22 catches, 18.1 avg., one TD, and Richmond Flowers, 17 catches, 15.1 avg., two TD.

Duane Epperson is the Blue Devils leading rusher with 200 yards and one touchdown. Placekicker Sims Lenhardt is one of the nation’s best, connecting on 11 of 13 field goals.

THE SERIES WITH DUKE
Georgia Tech has four in a row and eight of the last nine meetings with Duke to take a 36-29-1 lead in the series. Tech won last year’s game, 41-13, in Atlanta and captured the last meeting in Durham, 41-38 in 1997. Duke’s only win in the 1990s was a 27-12 decision in Atlanta in 1994. Only two games in the last 13 (1997 and 1992) have been decided by fewer than 10 points.

The two teams have met every year since 1933, making this the Jackets’ second oldest continuous series, behind only the Tech-Georgia rivalry. The only schools that Tech has played more than Duke (66 times) are Georgia (93) and Auburn (90).

Tech is 11-5 against Duke since 1983, when the Jackets became eligible for the ACC title.

LAST MEETING WITH DUKE
Quarterback Joe Hamilton passed for 259 yards and three touchdowns, including a 53-yard strike to Dez White on the game’s fifth play as Georgia Tech earned a 41-13 victory over Duke at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field. Linebacker Matt Uremovich (New Lenox, Ill.) returned a fumble 54 yards for a touchdown, the third of five consecutive games in which the Tech defense scored on a fumble return.

The previous year in Durham, Hamilton passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third and White returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score but Tech had to withstand a record-setting fourth quarter comeback by Duke to escape with a 41-38 victory. Tech led 38-11 before the Blue Devils’ Corey Thomas caught four fourth-quarter touchdown passes.

SMOKING TOBACCO ROAD
Georgia Tech has won seven of its last eight games in the state of North Carolina. Beginning with the 1995 season, Tech has recorded two wins over Duke (1995 and 1997), Wake Forest (1995 and 1997), and NC State (1996 and 1998) and one against North Carolina (1998). Tech’s lone defeat on Tobacco Road during that stretch was a 16-0 loss at North Carolina in 1996.

Tech has also won seven of its last eight road games against all opponents.

ANOTHER HAMILTON COMEBACK
Georgia Tech’s overtime win over North Carolina marked the fifth time in the last 12 games that quarterback Joe Hamilton has guided the Yellow Jackets to a fourth-quarter victory.

After Tech took over on its own two-yard line with 1:10 to play, Hamilton engineered a seven-play, 79-yard drive for the game-tying field goal by Luke Manget (Conyers, Ga.). He completed three passes for 73 yards and had a six-yard run on the march. Then in overtime, Hamilton scored the winning touchdown on a six-yard run.

Last season, Hamilton led game-winning, fourth-quarter drives against Virginia, Clemson, Georgia and Notre Dame.

DEFENSE DOES THE JOB
Georgia Tech’s defense made key stops when it mattered most, setting the stage for the Yellow Jackets’ comeback win over North Carolina in overtime.

The Rambling Wreck forced four consecutive three-and-outs in the final six minutes. After an interception gave UNC the ball at the Tech 10-yard line with 2:44 left, Tech stopped the Tar Heels on four consecutive runs, including a fourth-down stop by linebacker Matt Uremovich and defensive end Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.). That allowed Tech to drive for the game-tying field goal with five seconds left.

After Tech scored on its first possession of overtime, the Jackets allowed only a four-yard completion and then forced three straight incompletions to seal the win.

Fourteen of North Carolina’s 24 points directly resluted from Tech turnovers, including possessions that began on the Tech 16 and the Tech 36.

“Defensively, we came back and made some great stops when we had to make them,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary. “Even on the turnovers, instead of giving up six or seven points, they gave up three, which was the difference in the ballgame. Those are things you look at and hope to build on as a defense.”

ROOF, WILSON FACE FORMER TEAM
Georgia Tech assistant coaches Ted Roof and Eddie Wilson each spent time on the Duke coaching staff. Roof, the Rambling Wreck’s defensive coordinator, coached outside linebackers at Duke from 1990-93 under Barry Wilson. Wilson, Tech’s tight ends coach, served two stints in Durham. He was the Blue Devils’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Wilson from 1990-93 and quarterbacks and receivers coach in 1972-73 under Mike McGee.

DAN THE MAN
Entering the 1999 season, punting appeared to be a question mark for the Jackets after the graduation of Rodney Williams, the best punter in school history. But walk-on Dan Dyke has performed admirably. The sophomore from Winter Springs, Fla., has averaged 44.4 yards per punt, which would rank second in the ACC if he had enough attempts to qualify. Dyke’s net of 40.1 yards per punt leads the ACC and ranks seventh nationally. Seven of his 15 punts have been inside the 20-yard line.

Dyke, who had no scholarship offers coming out of Oviedo High School, walked on the Tech squad last spring. and beat out freshman Philip Newman in preseason camp. He is a Presidential Scholar at Georgia Tech with a 4.0 grade point average in aerospace engineering.

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