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Smith, Houston, Ball Earn ACC Awards

Nov. 17, 2003

Georgia Tech wideout Jonathan Smith, cornerback Reuben Houston and quarterback Reggie Ball earned Player of the Week awards from the Atlantic Coast Conference after helping the Yellow Jackets defeat North Carolina, 41-24, Saturday.

With the win, Tech (6-4, 4-3) is now eligible for what would be a school-record seventh consecutive bowl appearance. The Yellow Jackets close out their ACC slate Saturday at Virginia in a 12 noon, regionally-televised (FSNS) contest in Charlottesville, Va.

Named ACC Specialist of the Week–his third ACC Player of the Week citation this season–Smith displayed his talent and versatility with a three-touchdown explosion in less than seven minutes of the fourth quarter against UNC. The Argyle, Ga., native became the first player in Tech history to have a touchdown pass, a touchdown reception and touchdown return in the same game.

With Tech clinging to a 20-17 lead with less than 10 minutes to play, Smith took a pitch from quarterback Reggie Ball on an end-around; he faked off the defensive end and then lofted a pass down the right sideline, connecting with Nate Curry for a 26-yard touchdown that put Tech ahead by 10 with 9:51 left

On Tech’s next possession, Smith caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Ball as he dragged a defender into the end zone for the score, extending Tech’s lead to 34-24 with 4:25 to play. After the Jackets forced UNC to go three-and-out, Smith fielded the punt at the 27-yard line and raced 73 yards for the end zone, putting the Jackets ahead 41-24 with just 3:29 left. That was Tech’s first punt return for a touchdown since 1998.

Smith, who was named ACC Offensive Back of the Week following Tech wins over NC State and Wake Forest, accounted for a total of 157 yards against the Tar Heels, including six receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown, five yards rushing, a 26-yard touchdown pass and 75 punt return yards. He now leads the ACC in punt returns with a 10.4-yard average.

Houston, a sophomore from Peachtree City, Ga., made three key defensive plays with an interception, a fumble recovery and a sack to earn ACC Defensive Back of the Week honors.

On the Tar Heels’ first possession, Houston sacked UNC quarterback Darian Durant for a 15-yard loss to force a punt. In the second quarter, he made a one-handed interception, which he returned 18 yards to the UNC 29-yard line, setting up Tech’s first touchdown.

With the Jackets clinging to a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter and UNC on the move into Tech territory, Houston’s fumble recovery at the Tech 14-yard line preserved the lead. He also had eight tackles and a pass breakup in the game.

Ball threw a season-best three touchdown passes to earn his fifth ACC Rookie of the Week award.

The true freshman from Stone Mountain, Ga., completed 13 of 25 passes for 122 yards and three scores, and he rushed 12 times for 53 yards to total 175 yards of total offense.

With the score tied at 17-17, Ball moved Tech down the field for the go-ahead field goal with an 81-yard drive on which he gained 32 yards rushing.

He threw touchdown passes of eight yard to P.J. Daniels, 16 yards to Nate Curry and 30 yards to Jonathan Smith.

With Tech clinging to a 20-17 lead with less than 10 minutes to play, Smith took a pitch from quarterback Reggie Ball on an end-around; he faked off the defensive end and then lofted a pass down the right sideline, connecting with Nate Curry for a 26-yard touchdown that put Tech ahead by 10 with 9:51 left

On Tech’s next possession, Smith caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Ball as he dragged a defender into the end zone for the score, extending Tech’s lead to 34-24 with 4:25 to play.

Smith accounted for a total of 157 yards in the game, including six receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown, five yards rushing, a 26-yard touchdown pass and 75 punt return yards.

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