Oct. 11, 2008
ATLANTA (AP) – Derrick Morgan tipped a 43-yard field goal attempt by Gardner-Webb’s Ryan Gates with three seconds left, helping Georgia Tech squeak out an unexpectedly difficult 10-7 victory on Saturday over an FCS opponent.
Despite boasting a ground game that ranked fifth in the nation, the Yellow Jackets (5-1) rushed for just 79 yards, nearly 210 under their average as third-string quarterback Calvin Booker struggled with his timing in coach Paul Johnson’s triple-option attack.
Starter Josh Nesbitt was in uniform, but took no snaps for the second straight game because of a strained hamstring. Second-string quarterback Jaybo Shaw, who passed for 230 yards in Georgia Tech’s 27-0 win over Duke last week, did not dress after suffering a concussion against the Blue Devils.
Booker had to make his first career start, but at 6-foot-4, 234 pounds, the senior from Atlanta’s Mays High School is hardly a good fit in the Jackets’ first year using Johnson’s triple-option.
The lumbering quarterback ran a team-high 19 times for just 35 yards, and his difficulty pitching on the perimeter seemed to affect the timing of Jonathan Dwyer, who had only 27 yards on 16 carries despite leading the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 109.6 average.
And Booker was unable to make up for his problems in the running game by passing. He went 3-for-11 for 120 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Early in the second quarter, Dwyer caught a ball in the left flats that he ran untouched for a 79-yard TD.
Scott Blair gave the Jackets a 10-0 lead one possession later with a 29-yard field goal, but Gardner-Webb (2-4) kept the score close despite losing quarterback Stan Doolittle to a broken thumb right before halftime.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs turned to Devin Campbell, who completed 10 of 13 passes for 116 yards, and the senior reserve hit Jamal Patmon for a 26-yard gain on the left sideline and Dobson Collins for a 12-yarder to set up Gates’ chance to force overtime.
Morgan, a defensive end, pressured from the left side to get his arm high enough to tip the field-goal attempt.
Johnson was penalized, however, for a personal foul midway through the third quarter that negated a 34-yard field goal attempt that Gates missed wide left.
The officials said Johnson jumped before the snap, a setback that resulted in a new set of downs for Gardner-Webb at the 8. On the next play, Brandon Jackson ran left and dove over the pylon for the Bulldogs’ touchdown.
Georgia Tech added Gardner-Webb, its second FCS opponent this year, to the schedule after Army canceled its home game against the Yellow Jackets.