Nation's Top Passer And Rusher Share Field
Nov. 5, 1999
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – On the surface, Saturday’s game between No. 7Georgia Tech and Virginia seems to have all the elements.
The Yellow Jackets feature Joe Hamilton, a multidimensional quarterback andthe nation’s top-rated passer. The Cavaliers have Thomas Jones, the nation’sleading rusher.
And there is the matter of last year, when Virginia raced to a 38-17 lead inAtlanta, then went into cruise control as Hamilton and his teammates came backfor a 41-38 victory that helped turn the Yellow Jackets around.
But with Hamilton having a season that places him among the favorites forthe Heisman Trophy, and Virginia struggling, the game looks like a mismatch.
Georgia Tech went on to finish 10-2 after the victory in 1998, and hasn’tstopped.
The Yellow Jackets (6-1, 4-1 ACC) have the nation’s top offense in bothscoring average and yards, and stumbled only against top-ranked Florida Statethis season. They also will arrive at Scott Stadium trying to win there for thefirst time since 1990.
“That’s one of the first things coach (George) O’Leary said to us,”safetyChris Young said this week. “He told us that we’ve not played well up thereand we didn’t play well last year in Atlanta until the last couple of quarters.
It’s going to be a tough atmosphere.”
Not nearly tough enough by Virginia coach George Welsh’s standards.
The Cavaliers have lost three in a row at home, and while the first loss wasagainst No. 3 Virginia Tech and the last was against the Seminoles, the middleone was a 24-17 overtime embarrassment against Duke, and that one still stingsthe Cavaliers.
So, too, does last year’s loss at Georgia Tech, especially for a secondarythat gave up 312 yards passing by Hamilton – 243 of those yards going to DezWhite on just six catches. Three of White’s catches were for long touchdowns,two in the last 8:13.
“You’re not going to stop them, Joe Hamilton or their receivers,”Cavaliers cornerback Antwan Harris said. “You just hope to contain them andkeep them from the big play.”
Hamilton is dangerous as a drop-back passer and when he runs the option,Welsh said. Harris expects the Cavaliers to vary their defense looks and createconfusion.
“You can’t just do one thing. You’ve got to keep changing up on them, tryto mix their heads up, keep them off balance,” he said.
Dwayne Stukes, beaten several times by White a year ago, said rememberingthat day provides incentive to play better, but there’s more at stake thanpride.
Virginia (4-4) is three victories shy of its 13th straight seven-win seasonand has only three games left, save for a possible bowl invitation if it canwin at least twice.
“Who wants to go to a bowl 6-5?” Stukes scoffed. “That’s a horriblerecord.”
Virginia faced similar long odds last week when it played host to theSeminoles. The Cavaliers led 10-7 at halftime before Florida State rallied fora 35-10 victory.
“We have to play four quarters this time,” Stukes said.
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer