Ratliff, LaTendresse bewilder GaTech, set Utah marks

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Travis LaTendresse felt all alone at times

during the Emerald Bowl, catching pass after pass without a Georgia

Tech defender anywhere near him.

The sixth-year Utah senior wasn't lonely afterward. He got a

ride on his fans' shoulders following another blowout bowl victory

for the Utes and their phenomenal offense.

LaTendresse caught 16 passes for 214 yards and an NCAA bowl

record-tying four touchdowns, Brett Ratliff passed for 381 yards

and Utah rolled up 550 total yards in a 38-10 victory over No. 24

Georgia Tech on Thursday.

Quinton Ganther ran for 120 yards and added a 41-yard TD romp in

the fourth quarter for the Utes (7-5), who finished their follow-up

season to their 12-0 run through the Bowl Championship Series in

2004 with an offensive performance more than worthy of former coach

Urban Meyer's sublime team.

Though the prize was smaller and the stars have changed, the

result was the same as last year's Fiesta Bowl win over Pittsburgh:

a comfortable victory and countless style points for the exciting


"I don't think the ACC has seen a passing attack like the ones

in the Mountain West," said LaTendresse, a Northern California

native with 100 friends and relatives in the stands. "We came out

with a chip on our shoulders. That was an ACC team which said they

didn't belong here. We took it personally that they don't respect


Reggie Ball passed for 258 yards for the Yellow Jackets, who

were disappointed to be so far from Atlanta for the postseason --

and it showed. Georgia Tech's vaunted defense, ranked among the

nation's leaders entering the game, was shredded and stomped by a

backup quarterback and his speedy receivers for its season-high in

yards allowed.

"They quit on themselves," said LaTendresse, the game's

offensive MVP. "Slowly but surely, they gave up. That first

quarter, they had a lot of fight, and they were talking. But slowly

their talk diminished, and their heads went down. That's what you

have to do: make them quit."

LaTendresse, who missed three late-season games with an ankle

injury, seemed to be open all day while the Utes ruined the favored

Yellow Jackets' (7-5) ninth straight bowl appearance. Each of his

four TD catches of 14, 23, 25 and 16 yards came on simple post

patterns down the middle.

Ratliff, who went 30-of-41 in his second career start, and

LaTendresse both set Utah bowl records with a superb afternoon of

pitch-and-catch against the Yellow Jackets' bewildered secondary.

"They didn't do anything fancy or unusual that we haven't

worked on, but when you play them, you have to get ready for a ton

of stuff," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "When you haven't

spent a ton of time on something, sometimes they get you, and they

got us good."

First-year head coach Kyle Whittingham, Meyer's defensive

coordinator, easily won his bowl debut -- Utah's fifth straight

postseason victory.

"We had so many guys making plays today, it was unbelievable,"

Whittingham said. "[Georgia Tech] was a quality football team, and

not only did we beat them, we dominated them."

Cornerback Eric Weddle, the Mountain West Conference's top

defensive player and the Emerald Bowl's defensive MVP, did a bit of

everything for the Utes -- running the ball, engineering a fake

field goal as a holder, even throwing a terrible interception.

But Weddle was most valuable in his day job, limiting star

Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson to two catches for 19 yards.

"You could just tell they didn't want to be here," Weddle

said. "When we hung around them [earlier in the week], you just

couldn't see the fire that we had in our eyes."

Despite the injury absences of quarterback Brian Johnson and top

receiver John Madsen, the Utah offense was mostly flawless. Brian

Hernandez, a junior who began his college career at Georgia Tech in

2002, added eight catches for 75 yards for the Utes.

"Their whole offense didn't allow us to get into a rhythm,"

Georgia Tech safety Chris Reis said. "We didn't come out to play,

we came out flat, we didn't catch back up. ... It isn't

embarrassing as much as it is disappointing."

LaTendresse scored Utah's first three touchdowns, opening a 20-0

lead early in the second quarter. Ball threw two interceptions in

the first half, though he hit tight end George Cooper for a 31-yard

score after Weddle, who occasionally runs the ball on direct snaps

for Utah's offense, threw an interception on a gadget play.

But the defense held Georgia Tech scoreless in the second half,

and the Utes put it out of reach early in the fourth quarter.

LaTendresse caught his fourth TD pass over the middle and ran

headfirst into a picture of Willie Mays on the left-field wall at

SBC Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

Utah made it 31-10 with a 2-point conversion -- Ratliff to

LaTendresse, of course.