Johnson snares two TDs as Georgia Tech blasts Virginia

ATLANTA (AP) -- Calvin Johnson's left leg was hurting. He wasn't

sure if he'd be able to play until he went out for warmups.

Then he went out and had the best game of his Georgia Tech


Shaking off a sore quadriceps, Johnson caught touchdown passes

of 66 and 58 yards on the way to piling up 165 yards receiving,

leading the Yellow Jackets past feeble Virginia 24-7 on Thursday


"It was real sore and tight," said Johnson, who had the two

longest touchdowns of his career and set a personal best for yards

in a game. "But once the adrenaline got started, I didn't worry

about it. I was feeling no pain."

Johnson barely practiced during the short week after injuring

his leg in Saturday's victory over Troy. His status was listed as a

game-time decision, the coaches wanting to know how he felt while

warming up.

Johnson did some light running, got a last-minute massage from

the trainers and proclaimed himself ready to play.

"I think he was less than 100 percent," coach Chan Gailey

said, "but obviously he had a great night."

Burning the Cavaliers twice when they attempted single-coverage

on the star receiver, Reggie Ball hooked up with Johnson on

touchdown passes of 58 and 66 yards to give the Yellow Jackets

(3-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) a commanding lead by early in

the second half.

"When I see one guy in front of me, I'm like, 'Shoot, I love

it," Johnson said with a smile.

Of course, any lead looked safe against Virginia (1-3, 0-1),

which had three straight wins in the series but managed just 166

yards and nine first downs with redshirt freshman Jameel Sewell

becoming the Cavaliers' third starting quarterback of the season.

Sewell's inexperience definitely showed in his first career

start. He looked jittery in the pocket in the first half, bouncing

numerous passes at the feet of his receivers. Late in the game, he

threw two interceptions in a desperate attempt to rally the


"I was not nervous," Sewell insisted. "I had no fear. My

teammates had faith in me."

Ball, who set a school record for quarterbacks with 130 yards

rushing against Troy, did a little bit of everything. On the Yellow

Jackets' second possession, the senior handed off to fullback Mike

Cox, then drifted out of the backfield to haul in a 17-yard pass.

Ball might have scored, but he slipped at the 5 trying to make a

cut. Not to worry. After a penalty backed up Georgia Tech, the

quarterback picked up 4 yards on the option, then scored with a

6-yard run around left end. Johnson made a key block in the end

zone on linebacker Jon Cooper.

Travis Bell kicked a 47-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead and the

Yellow Jackets used up their timeouts late in the first half to get

the ball back.

Ball wasted no time looking for his big receiver. Inexplicably,

the Cavaliers put one man on the 6-foot-5 Johnson, who blew by

Jamaal Jackson after a quick feint to the outside and hauled in the

58-yard score down the middle of the field before safety Byron

Glaspy could get over to help.

Johnson easily pulled away from the defenders, sticking out the

ball with his right hand as he glided into the end zone with 1:08

left in the half.

Ball and Johnson pulled off an even bigger play the next time

they got their hands on the ball. On Georgia Tech's first

possession of the second half, Johnson froze Marcus Hamilton with a

quick stutter-step along the sideline, then got safety Tony

Franklin all twisted up by cutting to the inside for the 66-yard TD

-- the longest reception of Johnson's career.

The junior eclipsed his previous career high for receiving

yards, a 131-yard effort against Connecticut in 2004. Until

Thursday, Johnson's longest touchdown catch was a 42-yarder last

season, also against UConn.

Ball finished 10-of-19 for 205 yards, giving the Yellow Jackets

plenty of confidence heading into their next game, an ACC showdown

against No. 11 Virginia Tech. Last season, the Hokies routed

Georgia Tech 51-7.

"You don't get over it, especially a loss like that," Ball

said. "We've got to practice that much harder next week because we

know what we're facing."

Virginia, coming off a home loss to Western Michigan, avoided a

shutout when Sewell tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Kevin

Ogletree on fourth down with 12½ minutes remaining. The Cavaliers

needed help from Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice, who fumbled the

ball away at his own 29.

"A touchdown will give you confidence, no matter what," Sewell

said. "It lets you know you can do it again."

Even so, Virginia has managed just 43 points this season -- an

average of less than 11 per game. Coach Al Groh said he's committed

to helping Sewell develop as the No. 1 quarterback.

"He's got some elusiveness in the pocket, which a quarterback

on this team right now needs to have," Groh said. "We knew well

back in time that this was what it was going to come to, and we're

going to follow through."