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Tech Travels to No. 3 Miami

Nov. 13, 2005

ATLANTA–Georgia Tech faces its second straight road game and finishes its Atlantic Coast Conference slate with a trip to third-ranked Miami Saturday at 7:45 p.m. at the Orange Bowl. The game, which was originally scheduled for Oct. 22 but was postponed by Hurricane Wilma, will be nationally televised on ESPN.

Tech is 6-3 overall, 4-3 in the ACC after last Saturday’s 27-17 loss at Virginia, in which the Jackets rallied from a 17-0 deficit to tie the game but were unable to pull out the win. Still, the Jackets are bowl eligible for the ninth straight year.

Winners of eight straight games since a season-opening loss to Florida State, Miami now stands at 8-1 overall, 5-1 in the ACC.

Georgia Tech ends the season with a daunting trifecta. After falling at Virginia last Saturday, the Yellow Jackets now must play at third-ranked Miami and then return home to face its annual rival and the likely SEC East champion, 14th-ranked Georgia.

At No. 3, Miami is the highest ranked team that Tech has faced since the Jackets fell to second-ranked Florida State, 26-21, on Sept. 9, 2000. The last time Tech faced a team ranked this high on the road was Sept. 11, 1999, when the Jackets fell, 41-35, to the top-ranked Seminoles, the eventual national champions, in Tallahassee.

With Virginia Tech, Miami and Georgia, Tech will face three teams this season that have been ranked in the Top Five. The Hokies were No. 4 when they defeated Georgia Tech, while Georgia also climbed as high as No. 4. Tech defeated Auburn, which was No. 15 at the time and is now 11th, and Clemson, which has spent time in the Top 25, while losing at Virginia, which spent seven weeks in the Top 25.

The Hurricanes feature the nation’s top defense, allowing just 231.9 yards per game. Miami also leads the nation in pass defense (130.6 yards per game and 76.5 rating) while ranking 12th in rushing defense (101.3 yards per game). The Hurricanes are tied for second nationally in scoring defense at 11.1 points per game.

Tech’s defense has also performed well and ranks 19th in the nation (306.3 yards per game), including 14th nationally in pass efficiency defense (106.2 rating) and 16th in rushing defense (108.9 yards per game).

But the key to the Jackets’ success has been their ability to create turnovers. Tech ranks eight in the nation in turnover margin at +1.22 per game. The Jackets have grabbed 17 interceptions, which ranks fifth in the nation and is the most by a Tech defense since 1991.

The primary thieves have been sophomore linebacker Philip Wheeler and senior safety Dawan Landry, who each have four interceptions. Landry also has two fumble recoveries.

All-ACC middle linebacker Gerris Wilkinson is Tech’s top tackler with 67, including 6.5 tackles for loss and one interception, while junior linebacker KaMichael Hall has a team-leading 9.5 tackles for loss. Senior defensive end Eric Henderson has provided a spark since returning from injury; he leads the team with five sacks.

The Tech offense is paced by the skilled trio of quarterback Reggie Ball, tailback P.J. Daniels and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

Ball is averaging 235 yards of total offense per game, including 199.1 yards through the air with nine touchdown passes as well as three rushing touchdowns.

His favorite target is sensational sophomore Calvin Johnson, who leads the ACC in receiving yards per game (85.1) while ranking second in receptions (4.89 pg). Johnson has five touchdown catches.

Daniels ranks third in the ACC at 82.7 yards rushing per game.

But Daniels has company in the Tech backfield in the person of sophomore Tashard Choice, who combines with Daniels to form an effective one-two punch. Choice has rushed for 397 yards with a 5.0-yard average and five touchdowns.

For the season, the pair of Daniels and Choice have combined for 1,141 yards rushing (126.8 yards per game) and eight touchdowns.

THE SERIES WITH MIAMI

Georgia Tech leads the series with Miami, 6-4. The two teams met as ACC members for the first time last year, when the then fourth-ranked Hurricanes won, 27-3 in Atlanta. Brock Berlin passed for 200 yards and three touchdowns and Frank Gore added 124 yards rushing to lead Miami.

Tech and Miami met in the 2000 Toyota Gator Bowl, which the Hurricanes won, 28-13. Before that, the two schools had not played since 1978, when both were independents. Tech won four straight games in the 1970s, including a 24-19 win in Atlanta in 1978 that remains the Jackets’ last victory in the series.

Eight of the 10 games have been played at Georgia Tech, where the Jackets hold a 6-2 advantage. Tech fell, 49-7, on Nov. 10, 1967 in the only previous meeting at Miami.

TECH-MIAMI GAME POSTPONED BY HURRICANE WILMA

Georgia Tech’s game at Miami, originally scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Orange Bowl, was postponed by the threat of Hurricane Wilma.

The only other time Georgia Tech had a game postponed was 2001 following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Yellow Jackets were scheduled to play at Florida State on Sept. 15, but the game was moved to Dec. 1. Tech’s only other weather-related incident was in 2000, when the Jackets were scheduled to open the season Aug. 27 at Virginia Tech in the BCA Bowl, but heavy rain and severe lightning caused the game to be cancelled just moments before kickoff. The contest was not rescheduled.

BOWL ELIGIBLE FOR NINTH STRAIGHT YEAR

Georgia Tech earned its sixth win of the season with a 30-17 victory over Wake Forest, making the Yellow Jackets eligible for a ninth straight bowl game.

Tech is one of just eight schools in the nation to play in a bowl game each of the last eight years. Florida State and Virginia Tech are the only other Atlantic Coast Conference schools in this elite group, which also includes Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Purdue, and Tennessee. However, Purdue is out of bowl contention with six losses.

On their current streak, the Yellow Jackets have played in the 1997 Carquest Bowl, the 1999 and 2000 Toyota Gator Bowls, the 2000 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, the 2001 Seattle Bowl, the 2002 Silicon Valley Classic, the 2004 Humanitarian Bowl and the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl, going 5-3 in the eight games. Tech’s longest previous streak was six straight bowl games from 1951-56 under legendary head coach Bobby Dodd.

TECH AT THE ORANGE BOWL

Georgia Tech will be making its first appearance at the Orange Bowl since a 1967 regular-season game against Miami, which the Hurricanes won, 49-7. That was actually the Yellow Jackets’ second trip to the Orange Bowl that year. Tech played in the 1967 Orange Bowl, in the final game for legendary Tech head coach Bobby Dodd, but the Jackets lost 27-12 to Florida, which was led by Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier.

The Jackets have also played in five Orange Bowl games, posting a record of 3-2.

Tech’s most recent appearance in South Florida was the 1997 Carquest Bowl, played at Dolphins’ Stadium, when the Yellow Jackets, quarterbacked by Joe Hamilton, defeated a West Virginia team that featured Marc Bulger, 35-30.

GEORGIA TECH AT THE ORANGE BOWL (3-3)

Date Result Jan. 2, 1940 Georgia Tech 21, Missouri 7 (Orange Bowl) Jan. 1, 1945 Tulsa 26, Georgia Tech 12 (Orange Bowl) Jan. 1, 1948 Georgia Tech 20, Kansas 14 (Orange Bowl) Jan. 1, 1952 Georgia Tech 17, Baylor 14 (Orange Bowl) Jan. 1, 1967 Florida 27, Georgia Tech 12 (Orange Bowl) Nov. 10, 1967 Miami 49, Georgia Tech 7 (regular season)

SUNSHINE JACKETS

Georgia Tech has 18 players from Florida, including three defensive starters in tackle Joe Anoai (Pensacola Escambia), defensive end Adamm Oliver (New Port Richey Ridgewood) and cornerback Kenny Scott (Daytona Beach Seabreeze).

Three Tech players hail from South Florida in Brian Fleuridor (Delray Beach Boca Raton), Jake Blackwood (West Palm Beach King’s Academy), Chris Dunlap (Miramar) and Travis Rogers (Wellington).

Other Floridians on the roster include Rashaun Grant (Tampa Jefferson), Pat Clark (Jacksonville Mandarin), Colin Peek (Jacksonville Bolles), Jonathan Garner (Daytona Beach Mainland), A.J. Smith (Tampa Jesuit), Andrew Smith (Tampa Jesuit), Randall Cox (St. Augustine), LeShawn Newberry (Daytona Beach Spruce Creek), James Johnson (Oakland West Orange), Omar Billy (Orlando Colonial), Troy Garside (Jacksonville Episcopal) and Mark Youngblood (Tallahassee Lincoln).

GAILEY RETURNS TO MIAMI

Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey is no stranger to the Sunshine State. Gailey, a 1974 graduate of the University of Florida, came to Tech after two seasons (2000-01) as the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins.

Gailey last appeared in the Orange Bowl as a player at Florida. Gailey’s Gators’ defeated Miami at the Orange Bowl in 1971 (56-16) and 1973 (14-7).

HENDERSON TIES RECORD FOR TACKLES FOR LOSS

Eric Henderson, the Yellow Jackets’ all-ACC defensive end, has tied the Georgia Tech record for career tackles for loss, which includes sacks and other tackles for minus yardage.

The senior from New Orleans, La., has 57 career tackles for loss to equal Greg Gathers’ record of 57. He set a Tech season record with 24 tackles for loss in 2003.

Henderson is fourth in Georgia Tech history with 24 career sacks as he just moved past former Tech all-America and NFL All-Pro Pat Swilling. As a sophomore in 2003, Henderson led the ACC with 11 sacks.

TECH CAREER TACKLES FOR LOSS    Years   TFL     Yds

1. Greg Gathers 1999-02 57 290 Eric Henderson 2002- 57 221 2. Coleman Rudolph 1989-92 52 285 4. Marco Coleman 1989-91 50 215

TECH CAREER SACKS Years Sack Yds 1. Greg Gathers 1999-02 31 210 2. Coleman Rudolph 1989-92 28.5 200 3. Marco Coleman 1989-91 27.5 162 4. Eric Henderson 2002- 24 168 5. Pat Swilling 1982-85 23 194

BALL’S “FEETS”

Over the last four games, junior quarterback Reggie Ball has rushed for 260 yards and three touchdowns on 48 carries. For the season, Ball is Tech’s third-leading rusher with a net of 287 yards (4.3 yds per carry) and three touchdowns.

Ball has been sacked just four times all season. As a team, Tech leads the ACC in fewest sacks allowed with six, including just one in the last five games.

Ball has moved into second place in career rushing yards by a Tech signal caller, trailing only Joe Hamilton. Against Virginia, he became the 31st player in Georgia Tech history to reach the 1,000-yard plateau in his career. Ball now has 1,003 career rushing yards.

Career Rushing Yards by Tech QB Years   Yards

1. Joe Hamilton 1996-99 1,758 2. Reggie Ball 2003-present 1,003 3. Danny Myers 1973-75 921 4. Shawn Jones 1989-92 855

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