No. 7 Virginia Stunned by Georgia Tech, 41-38
October 17, 1998
ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) – In case anyone missed one of the great college football gamesof 1990, Georgia Tech and Virginia replayed it Saturday.
Dez White capped a record-breaking game by taking a short pass for a 54-yardtouchdown with 4:40 remaining Saturday, giving No. 25 Georgia Tech a stunning41-38 victory over seventh-ranked Virginia.
“That score sounds familiar,” Tech coach George O’Leary deadpanned.
O’Leary was defensive coordinator for the Yellow Jackets in 1990 when theybeat the Cavaliers by the same 41-38 score, knocking Virginia from its No. 1ranking while Tech went on to claim a share of the national title.
The parallels between the two games are eerie. In 1990, Virginia raced to a28-14 halftime lead and finished with 512 yards against the Yellow Jackets.This time, the Cavs led 38-17 five minutes into the third quarter and finishedwith a staggering 600 yards.
It wasn’t enough in either game.
“I never felt comfortable,” Virginia coach George Welsh said after thelatest setback. “They have a lot of pride. You have to give them credit. Theyweren’t going to let us keep doing what we were doing on offense.”
While another national title is a farfetched goal for the Yellow Jackets(5-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), they can take another major step towardthe ACC championship with a victory over No. 6 Florida State next Saturday.
White scored on three of his six pass receptions, which covered 243 yards tobreak the school record of 223 set last year by Derrick Steagall, also againstVirginia.
“I had some great blockers downfield,” White said. “All I had to do wasrun.”
On a day which produced one big play after another, the last belonged to themaligned Yellow Jackets’ defense. With Virginia moving into position for atying field goal at the Tech 25, Nate Stimson wrapped up Aaron Brooks for anapparent sack.
Brooks flipped the ball away before going down and was penalized forintentional grounding. The 5-yard penalty left the Cavs with fourth-and-23 atthe 37, forcing Todd Braverman to attempt a 54-yarder with 27 secondsremaining.
The kick sailed about 2 feet under the crossbar, Tech ran out the clock onthe next play and the student body swarmed onto the field, tearing down thegoalposts at both ends of the field.
That had not happened since – you guessed it – 1990, when the students brokeinto Bobby Dodd Stadium to celebrate after Tech’s victory at Virginia.
The Cavs (5-1, 3-1) had little trouble most of the game against the Techdefense. Thomas Jones rushed for 207 yards, Brooks was 19-of-32 for 312 yardsand Terrence Wilkins had seven receptions for 131 yards.
But it wasn’t enough against the plucky Yellow Jackets, who seemed to be outof the game after Jones broke loose for a 65-yard touchdown run on a draw playjust five minutes into the second half, giving Virginia its 38-17 lead.
The comeback began with three minutes remaining in the third period. Brookswas wrapped up 24 yards behind the line of scrimmage by Stimson and lost theball; Delaunta Cameron scooped it up and ran 34 yards the other way for aYellows Jackets touchdown.
It was the fifth fumble that Tech has returned for a defensive score thisseason, an NCAA record.
“It’s all what I did,” Brooks said. “I had a fumble they returned for atouchdown. I had a sack on the last play. I take the blame.”
The game started like it was going to be a Virginia blowout. The YellowJackets had turnovers their first two possessions, and the Cavaliers cashed inboth to grab a 14-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game. Jones scored ona 2-yard run and – just 30 seconds later – Wilkins caught a 28-yard touchdownpass from Brooks.
After Virginia built the margin to 21-3 on Brooks’ 1-yard run, Joe Hamiltonhooked up with White on the first of their three long touchdown passes, a69-yarder early in the second quarter.
Charlie Rogers made it 24-17 with a 54-yard punt return, but the Cavs held a31-17 lead at the half following Anthony Southern’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Cameron’s TD and a 47-yard field goal by Brad Chambers pulled Tech to 38-27five seconds into the fourth quarter.
With the Tech defense finally slowing the Cavaliers, Hamilton found Whitefor a 35-yard touchdown pass with 8:13 remaining. A 2-point conversion failed,but Tech trailed only 38-33.
Virginia had a chance to burn some clock, but Jones was stopped short byJustin Robertson on a third-down play when the Cavs needed just an inch for afirst down.
Tech got the ball back on a punt and began the winning drive. On third-and-7from the 46, Hamilton hit White on a short pass across the middle. The speedysophomore ran to the right sideline, turned the corner and beat the defense tothe end zone.
Hamilton was hobbled by a sprained right knee, sustained on the firsttouchdown pass when he was sandwiched by two Virginia players a split-secondafter making the throw.
Hamilton sat out one series but returned to the field with his knee heavilytaped. He was only 11-of-23 passing but had 288 yards – an average of 26.2yards per completion.
“He’s a tough kid,” O’Leary said. “My only concern was that if we didn’tget the game back in hand, I didn’t want to see him getting beat up out there.But he said, Coach, I can run.’ He’s a competitor and there’s no question thatyou want to see him out there.”
It was the fifth straight game that Tech has scored at least 41 points. TheYellow Jackets are averaging 40.8 points per game.
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer