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Posted: Friday, November 21st 2008 at 12:34pm

Tech answers big questions emphatically

By Judd Hickinbotham
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Georgia Tech's Darrly Richards signs the school fight school with his teammates after defeating Miami 41-23 in an NCAA college football game in Atlanta on Thursday. / photo: Associated Press
ATLANTA –- Heading into Thursday night’s game against Miami, two questions lingered around the Georgia Tech football team: 1. Would the Yellow Jacket offensive line be able to hold up against a tough Hurricane defense and 2. Would starting quarterback Josh Nesbitt be able to play and play effectively with his sprained ankle?

The answers to both questions turned out to be resounding affirmatives as Georgia Tech rolled to a 41-23 win over Miami to at least tie for the Coastal Division crown in the ACC.

Nesbitt finished with 93 rushing yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns and was part of a rushing attack that torched Miami for 472 yards and all 41 points over the first three quarters.

“That just shows if you come to play, good things are going to happen,” said Jackets running back Jonathan Dwyer, who led Tech with 128 rushing yards —- all in the first half. “A lot of big plays are going to happen when you fire off the ball, and that’s what the offensive line did today.”

The line was coming off possibly its worst game of the season when the Yellow Jackets lost to North Carolina 28-7 and blockers missed several assignments.

Several younger linemen have had to step up due to injuries, including former Gainesville High standout Nick Claytor, who got the start at left tackle.

Meanwhile, it was not Nesbitt’s best statistical game, but he was able to control the ball, make the proper pitches and keep a very fast Miami defense from making any big plays.

“I’m really proud of Josh,” says head coach Paul Johnson. “He probably wasn’t 100 percent, but tonight he grew a lot as a quarterback.”

The 472 rushing yards were the most for Tech ever in a ACC game and tied for sixth-most in ACC history. Four different Yellow Jackets finished with at least 75 rushing yards (Roddy Jones had 97 yards and Lucas Cox had 76, a career high).

NOTES: The Tech defense was also coming off a rough game in North Carolina but also bounced back to have a solid effort. Other than two fourth quarter touchdowns when the game was already out of hand, Miami was unable to consistently move the ball, being held to just 105 rushing yards for the game.

Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson seemed to set the tone early with a pair of firsts for his much-decorated career. Johnson returned his first-ever interception 26 yards in the second quarter for his first career touchdown. It was the beginning of a dominant first half in which the Hurricanes were held to just 136 total yards and three points.

-- The anticipated “White Out” game seemed to be wiped out by a lack of fan participation. While a large majority of the student section donned white outfits, the rest of Bobby Dodd Stadium was 40 percent pale, at best. The noise level was loud, but the requests made by the student body and players was denied by a majority of Tech alumni and fans.

-- There are two things left to do in the regular season for Georgia Tech:

The first is to find out if the Yellow Jackets will be playing in the ACC Championship game in Tampa next month. Several chips have to fall perfectly for Tech to make it.

“We know [the scenario] already,” says defensive lineman Daryl Richard with a laugh. “We need N.C. State to handle North Carolina; if Clemson wants to play in a bowl game they’re going to have to take care of Virginia; and hopefully Virginia gets something done in Blacksburg.” It seems easy enough, but it’s a long shot for the Tar Heels, Cavaliers and Virginia Tech to all lose over the next two weeks.

The second regular season hurdle left, of course, is the grudge match next Saturday in Athens against Georgia.

“I don’t know the last time we beat them, but it would be nice to go up there and get it done,” says Michael Johnson.

Richard put it slightly more directly: “I’ve just got to say to H--- with Georgia.”

Most Tech players agreed next week's practice would have a little more energy, as the Yellow Jackets try to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.
Associated Categories: Sports News, College Sports

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