ATLANTA (Oct. 30) — Georgia Tech’s Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Hamilton, playing only three quarters, totaled 295 yards of offense and threw for three touchdowns, and tailback Sean Gregory ran for 113 yards to lead 8th-ranked Georgia Tech to a convincing 48-21 victory over Atlantic Coast Conference rival N. C. State before a sell-out crowd of 46,012 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium and a regional TV audience on ABC.
Hamilton blew the game open with a trio of touchdown passes to Kerry Watkins and Kelly Campbell within a 10-minute span of the second and third quarters to give the Jackets a commanding 38-7 advantage.
|Joe Hamilton (14) goes up the middle for a first down during the first half. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)|
Gregory led a crunching Yellow Jacket ground game which accumulated 266 yards on the ground, racking up 113 yards on just 22 carries.
Meanwhile, Tech’s defense, led by sophomore strong safety Chris Young. Kept the potent Wolfpack offense in check throughout most of the afternoon. Though N. C. State totaled 414 yards of offense, 166 of that came on three long plays, and two of those came well after the game had been decided.
Tech got on the board midway in the opening quarter. After seeing its opening drive stopped by an interception by N. C. State’s Lloyd Harrison in the end zone, Hamilton marched the Jackets 55 yards in eight plays mixing in runs by Gregory with a key 18-yard toss to Dez White. Gregory capped the drive with a two-yard run for the score and Tech led 7-0 with 6:53 remaining in the quarter.
Tech’s defense, which allowed N. C. State only 63 yards in the opening stanza, then stopped the Wolfpack in three plays. Tech’s Marvious Hester returned a Scott Earwood punt 14 yards to the Wolfpack 45 and Tech was in business again.
Hamilton took just five plays this time to get the jackets into the end zone, running a par of option keepers for 20 yards and connecting with White for a 15-yard reception. Flanker Kelly Campbell scored the touchdown on a 17-yard run on a handoff to give Tech a 14-0 with 3:04 remaining in the quarter.
After an exchange of punts, N. C. State got back in the ball game as Barnette, who completed just 10 of 26 passes on the evening for 181 yards, found freshman flanker Koren Robinson alone on a 70-yard touchdown pass. And with 9:21 remaining in the half, Tech’s lead was narrowed to 14-7.
The Jackets, though, slowly regained command of the game. First Hamilton marched the Jackets to the Wolfpack 31. But when the drive stalled, freshman placekicker Luke Manget came in to boot a career-longest 49-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead with 6:23 left before intermission.
Then, after Tech’s defense stopped the Wolfpack and Earwood managed only a 26-yard punt, Hamilton then marched the Jackets 59 yards in 11 plays, completing seven of 10 passes-including 6 straight at one point– on the march. Hamilton found Kerry Watkins open fr a three-yard toss in the end zone and with just 32 seconds remaining before halftime, Tech held a 24-7 lead.
Tech’s defense asserted itself on the first possession of the second half, as linebacker Nick Rogers intercepted a Barnette pass and returned its 17 yards to the N. C. State 23. Four plays later, Hamilton found Campbell in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard TD toss and a 31-7 advantage with 11:18 remaining in the third quarter. The TD pass was the 52nd of Hamilton’s career, breaking the old Georgia Tech career mark of 51 set by former Tech great Shawn Jones.
Tech expanded its lead on its next possession, needing just four plays to cover 91 yards. First a 39 yard completion from Hamilton to White got the march started. Hamilton then ran for 15 yards on a keeper and Gregory added an eight-yard run. Then Hamilton capped the drive with a 39-yard to a wide-open Campbell for the score and a 38-7 lead with 4:17 remaining in the quarter.
Tech appeared to be in full control when it forced a fourth and seven situation on N. C. State’s next possession. But the Wolfpack pulled off a fake punt play with punter Earwood tossing a 36-yard pass to Harrison which carried to the Tech 12. Two plays later, Barnette scored around left end on a busted play to trim Tech’s lead to 38-14.
Regardless, Hamilton stayed in the game for only two more plays, handoffs to Gregory who managed runs of 17 and 10 yards. With Tech having a first down on the Wolfpack 44, he was replaced by backup quarterback George Godsey, who led Tech to 10 fourth quarter points including a one-yard touchdown run by freshman tailback Sidney Ford and a 34-yard field goal by Manget.
N. C. State backup quarterback Jatavis Sanders finished off the Wolfpack scoring, marching State 90 yards in four plays in the games a waning moments, connecting with fulback Cotra Jackson for a 20-yard TD toss.
The victory for Tech, its fifth straight after a loss to No. 1-ranked FSU, boosted Tech’s overall record to 6-1 and 4-1 in the ACC. The win was also Tech’s 16th in its last 18 games and its fifth in a row over N. C. State. State, meanwhile, fell to 5-4 on the year and 2-4 in the ACC.
The crowd of 46,012 fans was a record for an N. C. State-Georgia tech game.
Hamilton, with 295 yards of total offense, moved into second place on the all-time ACC total offense list with 9,196 yards, trailing only former Tech standout Shawn Jones who had 9,296 during the 1989-92 seasons.
The win was the 34th of head coach George O’leary’s Tech career tying him for 4th on the all-time Tech coaching victory list trailing only a trio of Hall of Fame coaches in Bobby Dodd (165), William Alexander (134) and John Heisman (102).
Tech will next face Virginia next Saturday in Charlottesville, in a game scheduled to be regionally televised over ABC-TV with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.