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Tech Visits Maryland for Thursday Night ESPN Appearance

Oct. 11, 2002

ATLANTA – For the second year in a row and the fifth time since 1995, Georgia Tech and Maryland will meet in an ESPN Thursday night game as the Jackets (4-2 overall, 1-2 ACC) and Terrapins (4-2 overall, 0-1 ACC) square off Oct. 17 at 7:45 p.m. at Byrd Stadium in College Park.

ESPN’s national telecast will feature the announcing team of Mike Tirico, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Dr. Jerry Punch. 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 look to rebound from a disappointing 24-21 loss to Wake Forest on Oct. 5. Maryland has won three straight non-conference games, including a 48-17 victory over West Virginia in its last outing, but seeks its first ACC win.

“You just keep hammering the little things so you can try to eliminate the mistakes,” said Tech head coach Chan Gailey of his squad’s focus during the week off.

“Right now we’re not explosive enough on offense to overcome mistakes, so we have to be able to sustain drives and not put ourselves in a hole with second-and-long and third-and-long. We’ve got to keep building and progressing but eliminate those mistakes.”

Stepping in for injured star Tony Hollings, true freshman running back Ajenavi Eziemefe (New Orleans, La.) has carried the ball 52 times in three games, rushing for 208 yards and two touchdowns.

Starting quarterback A.J. Suggs (Powder Springs, Ga.) has completed 77 of 135 passes for 930 yards and seven touchdowns with six interceptions. Backup Damarius Bilbo (Moss Point, Miss.) has provided a spark, hitting 17 of 30 passes for 224 yards and two scores.

Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.) is Tech’s and the ACC’s leading receiver with 30 catches for 528 yards (17.6-yard average) and three touchdowns, while fellow senior Will Glover (Tampa, Fla.) adds 19 receptions for 204 yards and three 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.).

The Tech defense leads the ACC in fewest points allowed, giving up just 16.2 points per game, and ranks among the league’s top three in rushing defense and pass efficiency defense.

The Jackets’ leading tacklers are the trio of outstanding linebackers: junior Keyaron Fox (Atlanta, Ga.), 49 tackles, eight tackles for loss, junior Daryl Smith (Albany, Ga.), 45 tackles, six tackles for loss and one interception, and senior Recardo Wimbush (Blakely, Ga.) 38 tackles and two fumble recoveries. All-ACC free safety Jeremy Muyres (Stone Mountain, Ga.) has 28 tackles and two interceptions.

A bright spot for Tech has been the play of its special teams. All-ACC placekicker Luke Manget (Conyers, Ga.) should be healthy after battling a strained groin. Manget has extended his ACC record streak of consecutive extra points to 149 in a row.

At punter, the Jackets use a combination of seniors Dan Dyke (Winter Springs, Fla.), who is averaging 40.4 yards on 17 punts, and Chris Morehouse (Vernon, Conn.), who is averaging 45.3 yards on 15 punts.

THURSDAY NIGHT LIVE

Georgia Tech has been selected to play in more ESPN Thursday night games-14-than any other school in the nation.

Four of Tech’s Thursday night games have been against Maryland. The teams have split their four Thursday night meetings to date, including last year’s 20-17 overtime victory by the Terrapins in Atlanta. Tech defeated the Terps in Thursday night games in 1999 (49-31) and 1995 (31-3), both in Atlanta, while Maryland won 13-10 in 1996 at College Park.

Tech has a 7-6 record in ESPN’s Thursday night games, and all but three of the games have been in Atlanta. Two of Tech’s four Thursday night games the last two seasons have gone to overtime.

In addition to the 13 ESPN dates, the Jackets have also played two other Thursday prime-time games in recent years, defeating Virginia, 31-27, in 1983 on TBS and falling to Arizona, 20-19, in 1995 on Prime. Counting Thanksgiving, Tech’s record on Thursday is 28-18-2.

ESPN THURSDAY NIGHT GAMESYear    Opponent        Result1991    #20 Virginia    hW      24-211993    #25 Virginia    hL      35-141994    #7 Arizona      hL      19-141995    #16 Maryland    hW      31-31996    Duke    hW      48-221996    at Maryland     aL      13-101997    #5 North Carolina       hL      16-131998    at Clemson      aW      24-211999    Maryland        hW      49-312000    at NC State     aL      30-23 (ot)2000    Virginia        hW      35-02001    #22 Maryland    hL      20-17 (ot)2001    North Carolina  hW      28-212002    at Maryland     Thu., 7:45 p.m.

THE SERIES VERSUS MARYLAND

Georgia Tech has won four of the last five meetings with Maryland to take a 10-4 lead in the series, which only began in 1988. The Terrapins won the last meeting with a 20-17 overtime victory in Atlanta.

Tech holds a 4-3 advantage in games played at Maryland (including the 1998 contest which the Terps moved to Ravens Stadium in Baltimore). The Jackets won the last meeting at Byrd Stadium, 35-22, in 2000.

FACING A FAMILIAR FACE

Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen spent a total of nine years as Georgia Tech’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He served in that capacity from 1987-91 under Bobby Ross and then from 1997-2000 under George O’Leary.

The meeting with Maryland marks the third time this season that the Jackets have faced a head coach who is a former Tech assistant. Tech has defeated former defensive coordinator Randy Edsall, now the head coach at Connecticut, and former co-offensive coordinator Gary Crowton of Brigham Young.

Terps’ defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo also spent two years in the same position at Tech, serving from 1999-00 before moving to College Park with Friedgen.

GAILEY VERSUS FRIEDGEN

Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey and Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen were on opposite sides four times in the NFL when Gailey served as the receivers coach and then offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Friedgen was the San Diego Chargers’ offensive coordinator.

In 1994, Friedgen’s Chargers’ defeated Gailey’s Steelers, 37-34, during the regular season and then won 17-13 in the AFC championship game.

The Steelers captured regular-season meetings the next two years, winning 31-16 in 1995 and 16-3 in 1996.

LAST MEETING WITH THE TERRAPINS

In 2001 in Atlanta, Maryland’s Nick Novak kicked a 46-yard field on the final play of regulation and then a 26-yarder in overtime to give the 22nd-ranked Terrapins a 20-17 victory over No. 15 Georgia Tech. Tech quarterback George Godsey passed for 320 yards and two touchdowns, but the Jackets were undone by six turnovers.

WATKINS IS ACC’S TOP RECEIVER

Senior wideout Kerry Watkins is the ACC’s leading receiver, leading the league in both receptions (5.0 pg) and receiving yards (88.0 pg). The LaPlace, La., native has 30 catches for 528 yards (17.6-yard average) and three touchdowns and is averaging 119.5 all-purpose yards per game.

Watkins has raised his career totals to 130 receptions, 2,158 yards and 20 touchdowns. He ranks second in Tech history in career touchdown receptions, third in receiving yards and third in receptions.

TECH LEADS ACC IN SCORING DEFENSE

After outstanding performances in wins over Brigham Young and North Carolina, Georgia Tech leads the ACC and ranks 16th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 16.2 points per game. The Jackets also rank second in the ACC in pass efficiency defense (105.0 rating) and third in rushing defense (120.7 yards per game).

In Tech’s 21-13 win over North Carolina, the defense held UNC to 12 first downs and 299 total yards on 52 plays, including just 68 yards rushing.

Against BYU, Tech held the Cougars’ high-powered offense, which entered the game averaging 35 points and 455 yards per game, to 19 points and 353 yards, including just 79 yards rushing. The defensive effort against BYU was highlighted by four forced turnovers (three interceptions and one fumble) and four sacks.

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