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Tech Returns Home for First Meeting With BYU

Sept. 15, 2002

ATLANTA –

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Georgia Tech and Brigham Young will meet on the gridiron for the first time as Tech (2-1, 0-1 ACC) hosts the Cougars (2-1) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in a regionally televised contest at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field.

The game will be televised on ABC (WSB Channel 2 in Atlanta) and can also be heard on the Georgia Tech-ISP Radio Network, including Atlanta flagship station, WQXI-AM “790 The Zone.” Wes Durham calls the play-by-play, while Kim King provides color analysis.

Both teams are coming off disappointing road losses. The Yellow Jackets dropped their Atlantic Coast Conference opener, at Clemson, 24-19, while BYU, which had climbed into the Top 25 last week, fell at Nevada, 31-28.

Both Tech and BYU fell behind early and then saw comebacks fall short. After trailing 24-6, the Jackets scored a pair of second-half touchdowns and had a first down at the Clemson 29 with a minute to play before an interception ended their hopes. BYU, too, scored two second half touchdown to pull within three points, and the game ended with the Cougars at the Nevada 32-yard line.

“I feel the same after watching the film as I did right after the game,” said Tech head coach Chan Gailey. “Costly penalties right at the wrong time, too many big plays against us, and our execution wasn’t what it needed to be.

“I do feel that if we played a little better, we could have won the game. We are certainly capable of playing better, but have to go on to the next game. You can’t let one loss cost you two.”

Gailey was happier with Tech’s play in the second half, particularly on defense.

“I was very encouraged by the way our guys played in the second half,” he said. “We got some turnovers and made some things happen. We were much more solid in the second half.”

BYU has always been known for its high-powered passing attack, but the matchup between the Yellow Jackets and Cougars features two of the nation’s top rushers in Tech’s Tony Hollings, who ranks fifth in the nation in rushing with 148.0 yards per game and BYU’s Marcus Whalen, who is sixth at 138.7 yards per game. The Cougar offense is averaging 271.7 yards passing and 183.3 yards rushing per game.

“You have to have a good pass rush, and you can’t give up big plays,” said Gailey of trying to defend BYU.

The story of Tech’s first three games has been Hollings (Jeffersonville, Ga.), who has 444 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in his first three games on offense after moving from the secondary last spring. He leads the nation in scoring this week, averaging 16.0 points per game.

Hollings, quarterback A.J. Suggs (Powder Springs, Ga.) and the receiving tandem of seniors Will Glover (Tampa, Fla.) and Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.) lead a Yellow Jacket attack that has averaged 31.7 points per game.

Suggs has completed 69 percent of his passes (36-for-58) for 469 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception.

Watkins is Tech’s leading receiver with 14 catches for 298 yards and one touchdown, while Glover adds six receptions for 58 yards and two scores.

The Tech offensive line is led by a pair of all-star candidates in sophomore left tackle Nat Dorsey (New Orleans, La.) and junior center Hugh Reilly (Smyrna, Ga.).

On defense, Tech is allowing just 13.7 points and 281.7 yards per game. The Jackets are paced on that side of the ball by all-America defensive end Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.), seven tackles, one sack; linebackers Recardo Wimbush (Blakely, Ga.), team-leading 20 tackles, and Daryl Smith (Albany, Ga.), 17 tackles, four tackles for loss and one interception, and free safety Jeremy Muyres (Stone Mountain, Ga.), eight tackles.

Tech’s kicking game is solid with Luke Manget (Conyers, Ga.), a two-time all-conference placekicker who has extended his ACC record streak of consecutive extra points to 142 in a row.

At punter, the Jackets have used seniors Dan Dyke (Winter Springs, Fla.), who has averaged 41.1 yards on 14 punts, and Chris Morehouse (Vernon, Conn.), who averaged 45.8 yards on four punts against UConn.

SERIES VS. BRIGHAM YOUNG

Georgia Tech and Brigham Young are meeting for the first time on the gridiron. The Yellow Jackets will make a return trip to Provo, Utah in 2003.

BYU becomes the 94th different institution that Georgia Tech has faced in its 110 years of football. Of the 93 other teams that Tech has faced, there are only nine that the Yellow Jackets have failed to defeat at least once, including such football powers as Carnegie Tech, St. Albans and Maryville. In fact, the Jackets have defeated every team that they have played at least three times.

SUPER START FOR TONY THE TAILBACK

Tony Hollings is off to a super start at tailback. The former reserve defensive back, who has a Superman logo tattooed on his biceps, moved to tailback last spring and has averaged 148.0 yards rushing in his first three games at the position. He leads the ACC and ranks fifth nationally in rushing.

Hollings rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries against Clemson, including a 72-yard touchdown run that was the longest by a Yellow Jacket since 1992.

The junior from Jeffersonville, Ga., made an impressive debut in Tech’s 45-3 victory over Vanderbilt. He rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, scoring on runs of two and 56 yards, becoming the first Tech player to top 100 yards in his first game at running back.

He was just as effective against Connecticut, rushing for 144 yards and a school record-tying four touchdowns on 16 carries, all in the first half.

ANOTHER FAMILIAR FACE

Brigham Young is one of three teams on the Georgia Tech schedule this fall who are coached by former Yellow Jacket assistants. BYU head coach Gary Crowton spent one year at Tech (1994) as the Jackets’ quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator.

Tech has already faced Connecticut and head coach Randy Edsall, who was the Jackets’ defensive coordinator in 1998. Another former Tech offensive coordinator looms on the schedule when the Jackets face Maryland and head coach Ralph Friedgen.

BYU strength coach Jay Omer served in the same capacity at Tech from 1993-2000.

THE CENTURY MARK

Tony Hollings has topped 100 yards rushing in three straight games, a feat achieved by only four other Yellow Jacket running backs, most recently by C.J. Williams in 1995. Jerry Mays had three in a row in 1989, as did Robert Lavette in 1982.

The only Tech player to rush for 100 yards in four consecutive games is Eddie Lee Ivery, who had seven straight 100-yard efforts in 1978, when he set the Tech season record with 1,562 yards.

TOUCHDOWN TONY

Junior tailback Tony Hollings leads the nation in scoring this week, averaging 16.0 points per game.

In three games, Hollings has reached the end zone eight times, including runs of 72, 56, 46 and 34 yards.

Hollings eight touchdowns in three games is one shy of the Tech record for a three-game stretch. Robert Lavette, the Jackets’ all-time leading rusher, scored nine times in a three-game span in 1982, the year in which he set the Tech scoring record with 19 touchdowns.

Included in Hollings’ total is a four-touchdown effort against Connecticut to tie the Georgia Tech single-game record. He scored on runs covering 34, one, 46 and one yard to equal a mark reached by five other Yellow Jackets.

WATKINS ON THE RECEPTION

Senior wideout Kerry Watkins has started his senior season with a bang. The LaPlace, La., native is Georgia Tech’s leading receiver with 14 catches for 298 yards (21.3-yard average) and one touchdown. He is second in the ACC in receiving yards per game and third in receptions per game.

Watkins has raised his career totals to 114 receptions, 1,928 yards and 18 touchdowns. He ranks second in Tech history in career touchdown receptions, third in receiving yards and tied for fifth in receptions.

RHINO HONORED FOR HALL OF FAME SELECTION

Former Georgia Tech standout Randy Rhino, the only three-time first-team all-America in Rambling Wreck history, will be inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Rhino will be honored in halftime ceremonies at the Georgia Tech-BYU game as he becomes Tech’s 16th member of the College Football Hall of Fame, including 11 players, three coaches and two former players who are honored as football officials.

Randy’s son, Kelley, is a senior all-Atlantic Coast Conference punt returner on this year Tech team, and his father, Chappell, also played for the Jackets as a member of the school’s 1952 national championship team, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this fall. Randy’s brother, Danny, also played for the Yellow Jackets.

IN A ZONE IN THE RED ZONE

The Georgia Tech offense is a perfect 10-for-10 on red zone possessions, scoring nine touchdowns and one field goal.

On defense, Tech has allowed five scores (three touchdowns and two field goals) on seven red zone possessions.

142 IN A ROW AND COUNTING

Senior placekicker Luke Manget has made 142 consecutive PAT in his career, every one he has ever attempted. The two-time all-ACC honoree from Conyers, Ga., has already surpassed the previous ACC record of 93 in a row by Jess Atkinson of Maryland. This year Manget takes aim at the NCAA record of 161 in a row by Tennessee’s John Becksvoort (1991-94).

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