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Yellow Jackets Top Vanderbilt, 45-3, In Season Opener

Aug 31, 2002

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By KEITH PARSONS
AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA A.J. Suggs threw three touchdown passes and Tony Hollings ran for 153 yards, helping new coach Chan Gailey and Georgia Tech beat Vanderbilt 45-3 on Saturday night in the opener for both teams.

Hollings, a converted safety, became the first running back in school history to run for more than 100 yards in his first game. Suggs, a transfer from Tennessee, completed 10 of 13 passes for 132 yards in slightly more than a half.

The Yellow Jackets lost the shutout when Greg Johnson hit a 37-yard field goal with 3:26 left in the game. It would’ve been their first shutout since Nov. 9, 2000, a 35-0 victory over Virginia, and the first time they held a season-opening opponent scoreless since they beat Florida 9-0 on Sept. 14, 1963.

Gailey spent the past eight seasons in the NFL, including two seasons as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, before replacing George O’Leary. It was Gailey’s first college game since 1993, when he led Division I-AA Samford to a 5-6 record.

He wore a white shirt – his assistants were clothed in yellow ones – and spent most of the game isolated on the sidelines, standing by himself on one end or the other. He finally took off his headphones midway through the fourth quarter and stood near midfield with his hands on his hips, soaking in his first victory as a head coach since Jan. 2, 2000, when the Cowboys beat the New York Giants 26-13.

Head Coach Chan Gailey wins his Georgia Tech debut.

After the game, Gailey was doused with water from a cooler, then jogged to midfield to shake hands with Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson, who also was making his debut with a new team. Johnson led Furman to the I-AA title game a year ago.

In the first quarter, Gailey decided to punt on fourth-and-1 from the Vanderbilt 37, drawing boos from the sellout crowd. But the move paid off when Dennis Davis downed Dan Dyke’s punt at the 1.

That helped set up Georgia Tech’s first touchdown, a 2-yard pass from Suggs to Will Glover on the first play of the second quarter. Suggs lofted the ball to the back corner of the end zone, and Glover outjumped Dominique Morris for a 7-0 lead.

The Yellow Jackets scored on their next five possessions, taking a 38-0 lead. Hollings ran for two of the touchdowns, including a 56-yarder early in the third quarter, and Suggs threw TD passes to Glover and Kerry Watkins.

Luke Manget added a 37-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Damarius Bilbo, who Gailey said would split time with Suggs, didn’t get many opportunities until the game was out of hand. He played with the second-team offense all night and ran 5 yards for his first career touchdown in the third quarter.

Vanderbilt failed to generate much offense in the first three quarters and finished with 225 yards, 78 of which came in the fourth quarter. Neither starting quarterback Jay Cutler nor backup Benji Walker were effective, combining to go 13-for-28 for 116 yards and two interceptions.

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