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Tech Plays ACC Finale at Virginia

Nov. 16, 2003

ATLANTA –

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Now bowl eligible with six victories, Georgia Tech travels to Charlottesville, Va., for its final Atlantic Coast Conference game Saturday at Virginia at 12 noon in a regionally televised (Fox Sports Net South in Georgia) at Scott Stadium.

Tech (6-4, 4-3 ACC) has won five of its last six games after Saturday’s impressive 41-24 victory over North Carolina. Virginia (5-5, 3-4 ACC), on the other hand, has lost four of five after a 27-17 loss at Maryland last Thursday night.

With six wins, the Jackets are officially eligible for what would be a school-record seventh straight bowl game.

“I don’t talk about bowls; I talk about improving our position and finishing as high we can in the ACC,” said Tech head coach Chan Gailey. “There are still two weeks left in the football season, so a lot of things can happen.”

The Tech offense revolves around the one-two punch of sophomore tailback P.J. Daniels and senior wideout Jonathan Smith.

Daniels is the ACC’s leading rusher, averaging 103.4 yards per game as he topped the 1,000-yard mark against North Carolina, when he gained 240 yards on 36 carries for the second-best rushing game in school history.

Smith is one of the ACC’s top all-around players. He is Tech’s leading receiver with 57 catches for 925 yards and four touchdowns. He also leads the ACC in punt return average at 10.4 yards per return and he is second in the league with 124.8 all-purpose yards per game. Against UNC, he also threw a 26-yard touchdown pass as he became the first player in Tech history to have a touchdown pass, a touchdown reception and touchdown return in the same game.

True freshman quarterback Reggie Ball is the leading candidate for the ACC Rookie of the Year award. He is completing 52 percent of his passes for 1,743 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he is also Tech’s second-leading rusher with 297 yards and three scores for a total of 2,040 yards of total offense. He is on the verge of Tech freshman records for passing yards, total offense, touchdown passes and touchdown responsibility.

The contributions of the Tech offensive line, led by senior center and all-ACC candidate Hugh Reilly, cannot be overlooked.

The Tech defense features the ACC leaders tackles in linebacker Keyaron Fox (122), sacks in defensive end Eric Henderson (9) and interceptions in free safety James Butler (5).

Fox averages 12.2 tackles per game, while his running mate at linebacker, Daryl Smith adds 10.5 per game.

Virginia features the reigning ACC Player of the Year in quarterback Matt Schaub.

“Matt Schaub is a very good quarterback,” said Gailey. “He has very good vision, he has decent movement, and he is very accurate. He was the Player of the Year in the ACC last year, so you know he’s a very good quarterback.”

THE SERIES VERSUS VIRGINIA

Georgia Tech holds a slim 13-11-1 advantage in the series with Virginia, which began in 1965 with a 42-19 Tech victory. The Yellow Jackets won last year’s game, 23-15, in Atlanta, while the Cavaliers captured the last meeting in Charlottesville with a 39-38 decision in 2001. In fact, the home team has won the last eight meetings between Tech and Virginia.

The Yellow Jackets have not enjoyed much success in Charlottesville, posting just a 2-6-1 record on Virginia’s home field. The Jackets have dropped their last five games at Virginia and have not won in Charlottesville since their epic 41-38 victory over the No. 1-ranked Cavaliers in 1990. Tech’s last three losses at Virginia have been by a total of just 12 points.

LAST MEETING WITH VIRGINIA

In 2002 in Atlanta, quarterback A.J. Suggs passed for 220 yards and Georgia Tech rushed for 211 yards, including 95 by freshman P.J. Daniels, in the Yellow Jackets’ 23-15 victory. Tech led 23-0 at the half, but the Cavaliers pulled within eight points when quarterback Matt Schaub scored on an eight-yard run and the converted a two-point play with 2:58 remaining. But Virginia’s last chance ended when Schaub’s pass was intercepted by Jeremy Muyres at the Tech 14-yard line with 1:25 to play.

The last meeting at Virginia was a wild affair as the Cavaliers won, 39-38, on a hook-and-ladder play in the final minute. After Tech had gone ahead, 38-33, on a touchdown with 1:45 to play, Alvin Pearman took a lateral from wide receive Billy McMullen and ran 27 yards for the winning score with just 22 seconds left. The teams combined for seven touchdowns in the fourth quarter, trading the lead after each score. Tech quarterback George Godsey set school records with 39 completions and 486 yards passing.

REGAL EFFORT FOR PRINCE

Sophomore tailback P.J. Daniels turned in the second-best rushing performance in Georgia Tech history with 240 yards on 36 carries in the Yellow Jackets’ win over North Carolina. Only Eddie Lee Ivery with 356 yards against Air Force in 1978–which stood as the NCAA record until 1984–has rushed for more yards in a Tech uniform.

Daniels, whose given name is Prince, gained 155 yards on 23 carries in the second half. He also scored on an eight-yard reception.

TOUCHDOWN TRIFECTA

Senior wideout Jonathan Smith displayed his talent and versatility with a three-touchdown explosion in less than seven minutes of the fourth quarter in Georgia Tech’s victory over North Carolina. 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. On Tech’s next possession, Smith caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Ball. 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.

HOUSTON, NO PROBLEM

While Jonathan Smith was accounting for three touchdowns in Georgia Tech’s win over North Carolina, cornerback Reuben Houston was turning a trifecta of his own on defense as the sophomore from Peachtree City, Ga., made three huge defensive plays.

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, Houston 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.

COACHING CONNECTIONS

Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, now in his second year in Atlanta, played at Virginia, lettering three as a defensive back for the Cavaliers. His position coach at Virginia was Tech Director of Athletics Dave Braine, who worked in Charlottesville from 1976-83 as an assistant coach and then an assistant athletics director.

Virginia running backs coach Kevin Ross is the son of former Tech head coach Bobby Ross.

PERMANENT CAPTAINS NAMED

Seniors John Paul Foschi, Hugh Reilly and Daryl Smith have been named the permanent team captains for the 2003 Georgia Tech football team, following a vote last week by the Yellow Jacket squad.

TECH’S ONE-TWO PUNCH

Nearly two thirds of Georgia Tech’s offensive yards have come via the running and receiving of two players, wide receiver Jonathan Smith and tailback P.J. Daniels.

With his receiving and rushing yards, Smith has accounted for 30.2 percent Tech’s offense (977 of 3,234 yards), by far the highest percentage for any receiver in the league.

Daniels has accounted for 32.7 percent of Tech’s offensive yards to lead all ACC running backs.

Receivers, School    Rush    Rec.    Total   Team    Pct.Jonathan Smith, GaT        52      925     977     3234    30.2%Jerricho Cotchery, NCS  32      1096    1128    4864    23.2%Craphonso Thorpe, FSU   6       994     1000    4641    21.5%Derrick Hamilton, Clem  85      886     971     4525    21.5%Jawarski Pollock, UNC   35      699     734     4443    16.5%

Running Backs, School Rush Rec. Total Team Pct. P.J. Daniels, GaT 1034 81 1115 3234 32.7% Chris Douglas, Duke 1019 189 1208 3691 32.6% Wali Lundy, UVa 654 220 874 3426 25.5% Chris Barclay, WF 949 18 967 3833 25.2% Alvin Pearman, UVa 537 401 938 3747 25.0%

TOP SEASONS BY TECH FRESHMEN QB

Entering the Virginia game, quarterback Reggie Ball needs six yards passing and 39 yards of total offense to establish Georgia Tech freshman records. Shawn Jones, who started every game of the 1989 season as a redshirt freshman and led Tech to a 7-4 record, holds the current freshman standards.

PASSING YARDS        TOTAL OFFENSE1.      Shawn Jones, 1989       1,748   1.      Shawn Jones, 1989       2,0782.      Reggie Ball, 2003     1,743   2.      Reggie Ball, 2003     2,0403.      Mike Kelley, 1978       1,479   3.      Joe Hamilton, 1996      1,5904.      Joe Hamilton,  1996     1,342   4.      Mike Kelley, 1978       1,491

TD PASSES TD RESPONSIBILITY 1. Shawn Jones, 1989 12 1. Shawn Jones, 1989 15 2. Reggie Ball, 2003 10 2. Reggie Ball, 2003 13 3. Joe Hamilton, 1996 7 3. Joe Hamilton, 1996 10 Mike Kelley, 1978 7 4. Mike Kelley, 1978 7

CENTER OF ATTENTION

The anchor of the Georgia Tech offense is senior center Hugh Reilly, who has played every snap in Tech’s first 10 games (680 offensive plays). He blocks for the ACC’s leading rusher, P.J. Daniels, a former walk-on who now has 1,034 yards rushing.

Reilly was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week after leading Tech to a 24-7 win at Wake Forest as he paved the way for a 441 yards of total offense by the Yellow Jackets, including 175 yards rushing by Daniels. Tech sealed the win by grinding out an eight-minute touchdown drive in the fourth quarter; all 16 plays of the 78-yard drive were on the ground.

A preseason nominee for the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center, Reilly has been selected to play in the Hula Bowl Maui collegiate all-star game in January.

He has started every game the last three seasons (36 straight games), starting at right guard in 2001 before moving to center in 2002.

DANIELS WALKS INTO OPPORTUNITY

Sophomore tailback P.J. Daniels leads the ACC in rushing, averaging 103.4 yards per game. He is on his way to one of the top rushing seasons in Georgia Tech history as he has recorded just the seventh 1,000-yard season in Tech annals.

He has been ever better of late, averaging 131.7 yards over the last six games.

Daniels has five 100-yard games on the season, topped by 240 yards against North Carolina and 175 yards versus Wake Forest. He also had 100-yard efforts against Florida State (113), Duke (108) and Vanderbilt (105) and just missed the century mark against NC State (99).

With 1,289 career yards, Daniels ranks 22nd on Tech’s all-time rushing list.

Daniels, whose given name is Prince, is a former walk-on who was Tech’s seventh-string tailback early last season. He was placed on scholarship in January, 2003.

TECH'S TOP RUSHING SEASONS   Year    Rec1.      Eddie Lee Ivery 1978    1,5622.      Jerry Mays      1989    1,3493.      Robert Lavette  1982    1,2084.      Robert Lavette  1984    1,1895.      Joe Burns       2001    1,1656.      C.J. Williams   1995    1,1387.      P.J. Daniels   2003    1,034

SMITH EYES SEASON MARKS

Jonathan Smith is putting together one of the best seasons ever recorded by a Georgia Tech wide receiver.

With his current averages, Smith is on pace to finish the regular season with a school-record 1,110 yards on 68 catches, which would be the third-best season total in Tech history.

Smith has five 100-yard receiving games this season; only Harvey Middleton had more with six in 1997.

TECH SEASON RECEPTIONS       Year    Rec1.      Kerry Watkins       2002    712.      Kelly Campbell     1999    693.      Harvey Middleton        1996    644.      John Sias       1968    615.      Kelly Campbell     2000    596.      Jonathan Smith     2003    57

TECH SEASON RECEIVING YARDS Years Yds 1. Kelly Campbell 1999 1,105 2. Kerry Watkins 2002 1,050 3. Dez White 1998 973 4. Kelly Campbell 2000 963 5. Jonathan Smith 2003 925

TECH SEASON 100-YARD GAMES Years Games 1. Harvey Middleton 1997 6 2. John Sias 1968 5 Jonathan Smith 2003 5

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