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Tech Travels to 8th-Ranked and Undefeated NC State

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Oct. 27, 2002

ATLANTA – After snapping Virginia’s six-game winning streak, Georgia Tech (5-3, 2-3 ACC) now takes on the nine-game winning streak of eighth-ranked and unbeaten NC State (9-0, 4-0 ACC) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.

The Tech-NC State game will be regionally televised on ABC, including Atlanta affiliate WSB Channel 2, featuring the announcing team of Tim Brant, Ed Cunningham and Samantha Ryan. The game 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.

The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 23-15 victory over Virginia. Tech’s win was keyed by a strong performance from quarterback A.J. Suggs (Powder Springs, Ga.), who completed 26 of 41 passes for 220 yards, and a gutty effort by the Rambling Wreck defense, which gave up 425 yards but three times held the Cavaliers on downs inside the Tech 25-yard line.

NC State, ranked eighth in the coaches’ poll and 10th by the Associated Press, moved to 9-0 for the first time in school history with a 38-6 victory over Clemson last Thursday night.

“NC State has looked very impressive,” said Tech head coach Chan Gailey. “They play well in all phases – offense, defense and special teams.

“From what I’ve seen, they have team speed and they play aggressively in all phases of the game. They look like a very good football team and very deserving of their ranking.” Suggs played his best game in a Tech uniform in the win over Virginia, and over the last two games, he has hit 54 of 86 passes for 492 yards. For the season, he completed 131 of 221 passes (59.3 percent) for 1,422 yards and eight touchdowns with six interceptions. Backup Damarius Bilbo (Moss Point, Miss.) has provided a spark, hitting 19 of 38 passes for 257 yards and two scores.

Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.) is Tech’s and the ACC’s leading receiver with 46 catches for 725 yards (15.8-yard average) and four touchdowns, while fellow senior Will Glover (Tampa, Fla.) adds 29 receptions for 263 yards and three scores.

At a tailback position decimated by injuries, true freshman Ajenavi Eziemefe (New Orleans, La.) is Tech’s top healthy rusher with 236 yards rushing and two touchdowns, but redshirt freshman P.J. Daniels (Houston, Texas), 40 attempts, 144 yards, two TDs, and senior Gordon Clinkscale (Doraville, Ga.), 23 attempts, 201 yards, have carried the bulk of the load the last two games. That duo combined for 169 yards rushing and 52 yards receiving in the win over Virginia.

The Tech offensive line, which has allowed just one sack over the last four games, 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.).

The Tech defense is third in the ACC and 19th nationally in fewest points allowed, giving up 18.2 points per game.

The Jackets’ leading tacklers are the trio of outstanding linebackers: junior Daryl Smith (Albany, Ga.), 51 tackles, seven tackles for loss and one interception; senior Recardo Wimbush (Blakely, Ga.) 42 tackles and two fumble recoveries, and Keyaron Fox (Atlanta, Ga.), 50 tackles, eight tackles for loss. However, with Fox nursing a sprained ankle, junior Ather Brown (Macon, Ga.), 17 tackles, steps into the starting lineup.

All-ACC free safety Jeremy Muyres (Stone Mountain, Ga.) adds 45 tackles and three interceptions.

Tech’s special teams have been solid. The Jackets rank second in the ACC in net punting (37.1) and lead the league in kickoff coverage (17.8).

All-ACC placekicker Luke Manget (Conyers, Ga.) has extended his ACC record streak of consecutive extra points to 152 in a row, and this week he takes aim at the Tech career scoring record; he needs just four points to pass record-holder Scott Sisson (1989-92, 299 points).

At punter, the Jackets use a combination of seniors Dan Dyke (Winter Springs, Fla.), who is averaging 40.5 yards on 25 punts, and Chris Morehouse (Vernon, Conn.), who is averaging 44.4 yards on 17 punts.

Tech must contend with a Wolfpack team that is scoring 40.9 points a game while allowing just 18.1. NC State’s primary weapons are all-star quarterback Philip Rivers, the nation’s leading passer (148-for-226, 2,144 yards, 16 TD), and rookie running back T.A. McLendon (101.6 yards rushing per game, 14 TD).

SCHEDULE HEATS UP

Needing one victory to become eligible for a sixth consecutive bowl game, Georgia Tech closes the season by facing three nationally-ranked teams in its final four games, including a pair of unbeatens in NC State and Georgia.

Tech enters this gauntlet by facing the eighth-ranked Wolfpack on the road, followed by a home game against No. 18 Florida State. After hosting Duke, the Yellow Jackets finish the season at fifth-ranked Georgia.

THE SERIES VERSUS NC STATE

Georgia Tech has won six of the last seven meetings with NC State to take a 13-8 lead in the series, which began with a 128-0 Tech victory in 1918. The Yellow Jackets captured last year’s game with a 27-17 decision in Atlanta.

Tech has a 4-6 record at NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium. The Wolfpack won the last meeting there, 30-23 in overtime in 2000, but Tech has won two of the last three on the Wolfpack’s home field. The Jackets’ last win in Raleigh was a 48-21 victory in 1998.

LAST MEETING WITH THE WOLFPACK

In 2001 in Atlanta, Georgia Tech quarterback George Godsey passed for 256 yards and two touchdowns and Joe Burns ran for 114 yards to help the Yellow Jackets to a 27-17 victory over NC State. Godsey hit Jonathan Smith for a four-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter to put Tech ahead 24-17, and Luke Manget added a 50-yard field goal for the final margin.

In 2000 in Raleigh, NC State rallied from a 13-0 halftime deficit for a 30-23 overtime victory over Georgia Tech in a Thursday night game. With the Wolfpack leading 23-16, Tech quarterback George Godsey drove the Jackets 50 yards on 10 plays and hit Kerry Watkins for a seven-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 23-23 with 1:20 to play. NC State quarterback Philip Rivers hooked up with Koren Robinson for a 23-yard touchdown pass on the second play of overtime, and Tech’s final hope ended with Watkins couldn’t haul in Godsey’s fourth-down pass at the five-yard line.

MANGET EYES SCHOOL RECORD

Placekicker Luke Manget needs just four points to become Georgia Tech’s all-time scoring leader. The senior all-America candidate is 48-for-70 on field goals and 152-for-152 on extra points in his career for a total of 296 points. He trails placekicker Scott Sisson (299 points, 1989-92) in the Tech record book.

Manget’s point total ranks 7th in ACC history, fifth among kickers. He leads all active ACC kickers in scoring, field goals and extra points.

TECH CAREER SCORING  Years   Points1.      Scott Sisson    1989-92 2992.      Luke Manget   1999-   296

TECH CAREER POINTS BY KICKING Years Points 1. Scott Sisson 1989-92 299 2. Luke Manget 1999- 296

TECH CAREER FIELD GOALS Years FG 1. Scott Sisson 1989-92 60 2. Luke Manget 1999- 48

TECH CAREER PAT Years PAT 1. Luke Manget 1999- 152 2. Scott Sisson 1989-92 119

ACC CAREER SCORING Years Points 1. Scott Bentley, Florida State* 1993-96 326 2. Sebastian Janikowski, Florida State* 1997-99 324 3. Ted Brown, NC State 1975-78 312 4. Jess Atkinson, Maryland* 1981-84 308 5. Leon Johnson, North Carolina 1993-96 306 6. Scott Sisson, Georgia Tech* 1989-92 299 7. Luke Manget, Georgia Tech* 1999- 296 *placekicker

WATKINS IS ACC’S TOP RECEIVER

Senior wideout Kerry Watkins is the ACC’s leading receiver with 5.8 receptions and 90.6 receiving yards per game. The LaPlace, La., native has 46 catches for 725 yards (15.8-yard average) and four touchdowns and is averaging 134.1 all-purpose yards per game, which ranks third in the league. He stands in the Top 30 nationally in all three categories.

Watkins has been even better in ACC games, averaging 7.2 receptions and 102.2 receiving yards per game in conference play.

Watkins has raised his career totals to 146 receptions, 2,355 yards and 21 touchdowns. He ranks second in Tech history in career touchdown receptions, second in receiving yards and third in receptions.

MUYRES CLIMBS TACKLING LIST

Free safety Jeremy Muyres has 242 career tackles to rank third in Tech history among defensive backs. He needs just three tackles to move into second place, behind career leader Ken Swilling (267).

The senior from Stone Mountain, Ga., is Tech’s active leader with 10 career interceptions, which is 12th in Tech history.

Muyres was honored as ACC Defensive Back of the Week for his play in Georgia Tech’s 28-19 victory over Brigham Young. He had two interceptions in the game, the first Yellow Jacket with two picks in the same game since 1998. He also contributed seven tackles, a forced fumble and two pass breakups against BYU.

Muyres made a huge play in the Jackets’ win over Virginia with his game-saving interception at the Tech 14-yard line with 1:33 to play.

A two-time all-ACC and academic all-ACC selection, Muyres is Tech’s fourth-leading tackler with 45.

TECH CAREER TACKLES BY DB    Years   Tackles1.      Ken Swilling    1988-91 2672.      Mark Sheffield  1979-82 2445.      Jeremy Muyres       1999-   242

CLINKSCALE, DANIELS STEP IN

With Georgia Tech’s tailback position decimated by injuries, the Yellow Jackets have gotten contributions from a pair of unlikely sources in fifth-year senior Gordon Clinkscale and redshirt freshman P.J. Daniels.

Clinkscale had been a little-used reserve until this season, when he found a niche as Tech’s third-down back. His playing time has increased the last two games as the Jackets have begun to employ a spread offense, and Clinkscale has responded with 87 yards rushing against Maryland and 74 versus Virginia.

For the season, Clinkscale has rushed 23 times for 201 yards (8.7 yards per carry) and has 12 catches for 78 yards.

Daniels, a walk-on from Houston, Texas, was one of the heroes of Tech’s win over Virginia with 95 yards rushing on 21 carries, including a one-yard touchdown run. He earned his first significant playing time one game earlier against Maryland and scored Tech’s only touchdown on a one-yard run.

Daniels has averaged 32.2 yards on four kickoff returns, including a 59-yarder against Wake Forest.

CLINKSCALE STARTS STRONG

Senior running back Gordon Clinkscale is fond of starting quickly.

On his first carry against Maryland (Tech’s second play from scrimmage), he scampered 51 yards, more than his career rushing total in his first three seasons.

Against Virginia, Clinkscale got the ball on Tech’s first play, and he raced 37 yards down to the Cavalier seven-yard line to set up the Jackets’ first touchdown.

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