ATLANTA (AP) -- Twenty-six seconds into the game, Reggie Ball was
limping and Georgia Tech was already behind.
Not exactly the way the Yellow Jackets wanted to start coming
off a dismal loss to Clemson.
Want to know how Georgia Tech did today? Forget the linescore. Just check out Calvin Johnson's stats. If this season's results are any indication, the Yellow Jackets usually do only as well as their captain wide receiver. Thankfully for Tech, Johnson has been nearly unstoppable this year. Nearly. Here are Johnson's stats from the team's last five games. Without looking at the bottom of the chart, see if you can figure out which games the Jackets won.
* -- Georgia Tech wins
** -- First career game without a reception
But Ball rebounded with one clutch throw after another, Calvin
Johnson got back in the offense and No. 21 Georgia Tech took a
major step toward the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game,
rallying Saturday for a 30-23 victory over Miami.
The Yellow Jackets scored 17 straight points in the fourth
quarter, including Ball's tiebreaking, 1-yard touchdown to pass to
Johnson with 6:18 remaining. The defense then knocked the ball away
from Hurricanes quarterback Kyle Wright -- one of four Miami
turnovers -- and Tashard Choice ripped off a 24-yard TD run.
"We knew this was our moment," said Johnson, who failed to
catch a pass for the first time in a 31-7 loss to Clemson. "If we
wanted to get to the ACC championship game, we had to win this
Win, they did, taking command of the Coastal Division race. The
Yellow Jackets (6-2, 4-1 ACC) merely need to win two of their last
three conference games to secure a spot in the league's Dec. 2
championship at Jacksonville, Fla.
After next week's trip to North Carolina State, Georgia Tech
faces the two worst teams in the conference: North Carolina, which
hasn't beaten a Division I-A team, and winless Duke.
Miami (5-3, 2-2) is assured of at least three losses for the
third straight year, which will surely keep the heat on embattled
coach Larry Coker.
"We're sick and tired of losing," Wright said, "but we're the
only ones who can do anything about that."
The Hurricanes got off to the best possible start. On the first
play from scrimmage, Ball was hit from behind by Calais Campbell
while attempting to scramble, the ball popped loose at the 19 and
Glenn Cook returned it for a touchdown.
Just like that, Miami was up 7-0.
Ball got up limping, but was right back in on the next
possession. He heard some boos from home crowd while completing
just 3-of-16 passes in the first half, but everyone was cheering
when he went 8-of-11 over the final two quarters.
"I was mad, hurt and frustrated," Ball said. "But I've been
down before. I had to keep everyone up, keep pushing."
Choice rushed for 107 yards, becoming the first back all season
to put up 100 yards on the Hurricanes. His touchdown -- two plays
after Adamm Oliver stripped the ball from Wright and KaMichael Hall
fell on it for the Georgia Tech -- made it 30-16 with 3½ minutes
left in a wild fourth quarter.
Miami needed just over a minute to finally score its first
offensive touchdown. Wright hooked up with Greg Olsen on a 41-yard
scoring pass that gave the Hurricanes a chance with 2:37 left.
But Coker elected to kick deep with only one timeout remaining,
explaining afterward that he didn't have much confidence in his
team's ability to pull off an onside kick.
Georgia Tech went three-and-out before Durant Brooks got off a
booming punt, Rashaun Jones fumbled before he could even attempt a
miracle return, and Chris Dunlap recovered for Georgia Tech with 19
seconds left to seal the crucial victory.
After kneeling down on the final play, the Yellow Jackets
gathered in front of the student body at Bobby Dodd Stadium,
raising their helmets in the air while the band boomed out "I'm a
Rambling Wreck From Georgia Tech."
"We're in the driver's seat," Ball said.
Miami built a 10-0 lead on its first offensive possession,
getting the first of three field goals by Jon Peattie. But the
Yellow Jackets didn't panic, tying the game at 13 by halftime and
dominating the Hurricanes through most of the fourth quarter.
Miami was bolstered by the return of 12 players, all having
served one-game suspensions for their role in a nasty brawl against
Florida International, but it didn't matter against a Georgia Tech
team that is looking to win its first outright conference title
Wright threw for 246 yards and Javarris James rushed for 113
yards, but Miami couldn't overcome three fumbles and an
interception. The offense settled for field goals on all three of
its drives that reached the Georgia Tech 20.
Johnson caught five passes for 68 yards. His first was a
43-yarder that led to Georgia Tech's first score, a 39-yard field
goal by Travis Bell.
James Johnson had Georgia Tech's other touchdown on a 46-yard
catch midway through the second period. He caught the ball in
stride and managed to get one foot down in the back of the end zone
before slamming into the padding in front of the stands.
Bell, who's been mired in a slump most of the last two seasons,
was given one more chance to turn things around. Coach Chan Gailey
planned to make a change if his No. 1 kicker missed on his first
field goal attempt, and he responded by going 3-of-3. Bell also
connected from 38 yards, then made another from 39 early the fourth
quarter to tie it at 16.
"It's probably the best day I've ever had kicking," Bell said.
"Everything was right down the middle. And they weren't chip
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