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Yellow Jackets Stop Central Florida 21-17

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Georgia Tech quarterback George Godsey runs with the ball against Central Florida (AP Photo/Erik S. Lesser)

Atlanta, GA-Starting quarterback George Godsey, who was lifted on two occasions during the game, threw two touchdowns passes in the final 3:48 to lift Georgia Tech to a 21-17 over Central Florida before 40,993 noisy fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, the season-opener for both teams.

Godsey, who fumbled to help UCF to an early field goal and was unable to move the offense during the first and third quarters, overcame those problems to engineer a heroic comeback reminiscent of the man he replaced at his position.

With Tech trailing 17-7 and facing a 3rd-and-18 on the Tech 35-yard line, Godsey returned to the game in place of backup Andy Hall and connected with Jon Muyres on a 27-yard pass to the UCF 38. After an illegal participation penalty against the Golden Knights, Godsey hit Kelly Campbell for a 23-yard touchdown with 3:48 to play. Luke Manget’s extra point brought the Jackets to within 17-14.

Tech’s defense held UCF without a first down, and the Jackets got the ball back with 3:05 to play at the Golden Knights’ 49. Godsey connected on passes of 9, 11 and 11 yards to reach the 5 where Joe Burns took two cracks up the middle, reaching the 1. On third down, Godsey faked to Burns, rolled to his right and hit Brian Lee in the end zone for the go-ahead score with 38 seconds left.

Safety Jeremy Muyres sealed Tech’s eighth straight home win with an interception near mid-field on UCF’s final possession.

Tech, which had its scheduled season opener at Virginia Tech called off because of a thunderstorm the previous week, trailed nearly the entire game despite its best defensive effort in four years. The Jackets got a strong pass rush that resulted in three sacks and numerous hurried throws from UCF quarterback Vic Penn, and held the Golden Knights to 255 total yards, the lowest since a 1996 game against North Carolina. Tech also limited UCF to eight net rushing yards, the fifth-lowest total in school history.

On Tech’s first possession of the game, Godsey moved the Jackets from their own 38 to the UCF 28, where the drive stalled and Manget missed a 45-yard field goal.

Instead, Central Florida took a 10-0 lead, the first score coming on a 48-yard field goal early in the second quarter after Godsey’s fumble. Kenny Clark cashed in on Hall’s fumble at the Tech 9 later in the period by scampering into the end zone on the Golden Knight’s first play.

Meanwhile, Tech netted just 40 yards on five possessions after the missed field goal. Needing a score, Godsey returned for the final drive of the half and guided the Jackets on a two-minute drill. The 73-yard march concluded with his 23-yard scoring strike to Kerry Watkins 13 seconds before halftime.

The Golden Knights had managed just 84 total yards in the first half, but nearly doubled that on one play with 9:42 left in the third period when Clark got behind the Tech secondary for a 79-yard TD pass from Penn. The score extended UCF’s lead to 17-7.

After that, Tech’s defense allowed Penn and his mates just 71 yards and two first downs in seven possessions, forcing five punts, a fumble and an interception.

“Our defense came to play,” said head coach George O’Leary. “They kept us in the game and gave us a chance to score some points and win. I was impressed with our players for hanging in there and never giving up. When you do that, good things happen, and that’s what happened for us.”

For the game, Godsey completed 19 of 31 passes for 189 yards and all three touchdowns, and picked up 12 yards on seven rushes. Hall was 4-for-9 for 37 yards and ran eight times for 24 yards. Seven different receivers caught passes, led by Jon Muyres and Kelly Campbell with five each.

With his five catches, Campbell moved into Tech’s all-time top-10 in career receptions with 85, and rose to ninth in career receiving yardage with 1,283.

Joe Burns led the ground game with 73 yards on 22 carries.

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