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Georgia Tech edges out Carolina 27-21

Posted Sunday, September 11, 2005

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Atlanta, GA - The Ramblin Wreck's Reggie Ball threw for two touchdowns and a career-high 320 yards, including eight passes for 131 yards to Damarius Bilbo, as No. 17 Georgia Tech held off North Carolina 27-21 Saturday.

Reggie Ball had a career-high 320 passing yards, which is the most for a Georgia Tech quarterback since George Godsey threw for 486 yards against Virginia in 2001.

Georgia Tech had three interceptions in the second half against the Tar Heels, and has seven interceptions through the first two games of the season. All seven of the Yellow Jackets' interceptions in 2005 have come in the second half, and six different players have intercepted a pass.

Damarius Bilbo's 48-yard touchdown catch in the first half was the first touchdown reception of his career, and his first touchdown for the fifth-year senior since the 2002 season, when he scored two rushing touchdowns from the quarterback position. Bilbo finished with career highs for receptions (8) and receiving yards (131). He entered today's game with a total of eight catches for 109 yards in two seasons and one game at wide receiver.

Last time Tech had two 100-yard receivers in same game was last year against Clemson when Calvin Johnson had 127 yards and Levon Thomas had 100 yards.

Calvin Johnson recorded the fourth 100-yard receiving game of his career (114).

P.J. Daniels rushed for 103 yards, his 12th 100-yard rushing game and second-straight in 2005.

The only other time Georgia Tech has had two 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher was in 1997 against Duke. Harvey Middleton (7-for-106), Derrick Steagall (6-for-125) and Charles Wiley rushed for 125 yards on 20 carries.

Today was the 21st time in 40 games under defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta that Georgia Tech has held its opponent to under 100-yards rushing. Tech is 17-4 in those games.

Travis Bell was a perfect 2-for-2 in field goal attempts. He is now 5-for-5 in 2005 and ranks as Tech's career leader in field goal percentage (20-for-22).

The Yellow Jackets did not turn the ball over against the Tar Heels, while forcing three turnovers. For the season, Tech is +7 in turnovers (8 forced, 1 lost). Tech was -13 in turnover margin last season.

True freshmen Taalib Tucker and Jahi Word-Daniels saw their first action, playing on special teams and bringing to seven the number of true freshman who have played this season.

Post-game quotes
NORTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH JOHN BUNTING

"It was a giant M.O. We missed an opportunity. We had a chance to do something really special. Give Georgia Tech a lot of credit. They're 2-0 now with the win at Auburn and beating us here, and they played tougher at the end.

"We made some plays. But we didn't make enough plays. We were very poor on a lot of third downs, particularly in the first half, and then some in the third quarter. Offensively when we had a chance to go out there after it was 14-14 at the half, I thought we would start moving the ball, but they snuffed us. They just stuffed us and stuffed us, and we couldn't convert anything. We were three-and-out, three-and-out. I don't know exactly what it was the first couple of series in the third quarter, but it wasn't good.

"But give these players credit. They continued to play hard and continued to believe. And I'm hopeful that we can come home to Chapel Hill and play a whale of a game against a great Wisconsin team, and put it all together. I believe that there were a lot of communication problems out there, both offensively and defensively, and that led to problems, and we've got to handle that.

On difficulty running the ball - "There were times when I thought we were going to get the run game going. And I think there will be some players extremely disappointed - either the offensive lines, tight ends, wide receivers or running backs - that did not capitalize on the opportunities that were there. When you run zone pressure, sometimes you get one guy upfield, you get some vertical windows, and we didn't see them. We've got to get better at that. We've got to take advantage of that as a runner. We need to ensure the integrity of our blocking scheme when were running the outside zone play, instead of getting knocked back for three or four yards. We're going to be very disappointed when we watch this tape, though we'll be encouraged by the toughness with which we tried to finish the game."

On the first four series of the third quarter - "That is really disappointing. That is your opportunity to do something special and turn this game around. And we couldn't get in done. I wanted to run the football. We tried to run the football. We just couldn't get it done. You want to give Georgia Tech credit, but we have to execute better and be smarter to run the football."

On the performance of QB Matt Baker - "For the first game out as a starter, I liked what I saw. You see what kind of arm he had, and you see how he can fit balls in there. He had three interceptions that will drag his passing efficiency down, but I like the guts of the kid. I think he can play. But he has to do a better job of organizing and managing that offense out there, too, and he knows that, and I hope he does that next week."

GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Chan Gailey Can you talk about Damarius Bilbo and the day that he had? "He really showed us what we thought he could be. You don't always know if it will continue but I was so excited for us and especially excited for him."

Talk about Reggie's play. "For the first three and a half quarters, he engineered drives and just played really well. He engineered drives and did some nice things. We have to get better in the red zone, but North Carolina's defensive front were very good. After one of our big runs, they didn't let us do anything on the ground and that's why we had to throw more. We all waited to see if it was going to happen, but I truly believed he would this type of year."

Talk about the play of your defense. "They really stepped up. We had a great punt return and then were called for a penalty and that really hurt us. That would've put the game away but we didn't execute the way we should have. We have to get better at that and that's my responsibility. The defense responded and stepped up when they had to. The interception by Dennis (Davis) and the great pressure on the passer were a key for us late in the game."

How long have you been working on the play when Damarius (Bilbo) passed the ball to Reggie (Ball)? "We've been working on it since preseason."

North Carolina's defensive front probably forced you to pass a little more than you would've liked. "I thought that for the first three and a half quarters, we passed the way we needed to. We hit some short passes, some up the middle, and some deep. We did some things that we hadn't done in a while and I give Reggie a lot of credit for making the right reads and getting the ball to the right guys."

Before the game, people were talking about tech losing a big game after winning a big game. How does it feel to get that monkey off you back? "It feels great to win. I think everyone made a bigger deal than it really was. When you r gola is to go out and win every game, it doesn't matter."

Your 3rd down efficiency was terrific today. Have you been working on that? "We've really emphasized improving that aspect of the game to our players. It was something we were not good at last year and we've really improved on that this year."

How do you evaluate the secondary when you see that they've given up a lot of yards but they always seem to step up when they need to? "I thought North Carolina's offensive line did a great job of protecting their quarterback today. We made plays when we have to and that helped us win the game. We played well early and then we missed a tackle which gave them confidence at the time. If we can keep pressure on them and keep them from making a big play, then we have a chance to keep them from scoring."

Are you second-guessing yourself about throwing the ball short, and do you think you should have given it to PJ Daniels a little more as the game went on? "We hadn't run the ball well at all since the first half so I decided to keep going throwing the ball to the guys that were making plays for us."

Was your offensive line getting tired during the course of the game because of the fact that you had to pass more? "Their front seven were strong and physical, and they did a better job at stopping the run as the game went on, especially in the second half."

Are you in favor of instant replay (on the play when the interception thrown by Reggie Ball was overturned)? "I definitely am. I'm just got they got the play right and I think that's what everybody wants. You don't want to lose a game on an incorrect play."

 
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