ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech lost its quarterback, its most versatile running back and four turnovers. Not surprisingly, it couldn't stay with No. 6 Florida State on Saturday night.
With quarterback Joe Hamilton and runner/return specialist Charlie Rogers on the sidelines with injuries, the 20th-ranked Yellow Jackets fell 34-7 before a crowd of 46,362 at Bobby Dodd Stadium, the largest since it was reconfigured in 1986.
FSU (7-1, 4-1 ACC) moved into the driver's seat for its seventh ACC championship or co-championship in seven years. Tech (5-2, 4-1) must hope the Seminoles are upset in the next two weeks by either North Carolina or Virginia.
"We just can't turn it over against a team like that," Tech coach George O'Leary said. "We had our chances and didn't take advantage of them. In the second half, I thought their speed really showed."
Hamilton, the hero of last week's miracle 41-38 victory over Virginia, left the game with a hip-pointer with 1:46 left in the third quarter on a hit by defensive end Jamal Reynolds. Rogers didn't last nearly that long, going out with a shoulder sprain in the first quarter.
Hamilton said he expects to play next Saturday against Maryland, but Rogers' injury may be more serious.
"If it wasn't for Joe Hamilton going down, there's no telling what could have happened," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "Georgie Tech really had everything going for them. The momentum was on their side, and they and they had the crowd really involved."
Realistically, Tech wasn't going to win even with Hamilton, who completed just eight of 14 passes for 56 yards with one interception. After driving 80 yards for a touchdown on its opening possession, it crossed midfield only two more times against FSU's No. 1 nationally ranked defense. Meanwhile, the Seminoles got three touchdowns from receiver Peter Warrick on passes of 44 and eight yards from Chris Weinke and a 16-yard reverse.
After a 7-7 first half in which Tech's defense played much better than its No. 92 ranking, FSU dominated both sides of the ball in the second half. Fumbles by Phillip Rogers and backup quarterback George Godsey led to FSU touchdowns, and the Seminoles scored 24 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
"They're not that much better than us," said Tech defensive end Nate Stimson. "I hate when people say this, but the game was closer than the score. The only thing they have going for them is athletes that make amazing plays."
Warrick's 16-yard scoring run, on which he faked out three defenders, put the Seminoles up 27-7 with 5:31 left and ended any doubt. Laveranues Coles added a 60-yard TD run with 2:38 left.
Sebastian Jankowski's 43-yard field goal with 10:10 left in the third quarter gave FSU its first lead, 10-7, capping a 39-yard drive at the start of the third quarter. After Warrick's 8-yard scoring pass from Weinke, Janikowski kicked a 32-yard field goal with 8:49 left, extending the lead to 20-7 with 8:49 left in the game.
Tech became the only team this year to score against FSU on its opening possession when forged an 18-play, 80-yard scoring drive that used up 9:27 of the first quarter.
Hamilton kept the FSU defense off-balance with a mixture of option, play-action passes and short passes. Tech converted five third downs with three Hamilton passes, a Hamilton scramble up the middle and a defensive holding penalty.
Phillip Rogers' 2-yard touchdown run on a leap over the center of the line gave the one gave the Jackets a 7-0 lead and ended a string of 87 unanswered points by FSU in the series, dating back to 1996.
FSU answered with an equally impressive 12-play, 82-yard to tie the game at 7. The touchdown was a heartbreaker for Tech, a 44-yard pass from Weinke to Warrick on third and 26 after Weinke was sacked by Nate Stimson and FSU was penalized for illegal motion.
Neither team got close to scoring again in the first half. Punts by Rodney Williams of 59, 55 and 54 yards kept FSU pinned in its territory, and Tech's offense managed only 18 yards after the opening drive.
Blown opportunities will haunt the Jackets. Twice in the first half the defense stripped Weinke of the ball and had a chance for a recovery, but both times, a Tech player tried to advance the ball rather than fall on it, and the Seminoles recovered.
The first such occasion occurred on the sack that preceded FSU's touchdown. Jesse Tarplin had a chance to pounce on the ball, but tried to pick it up and it was knocked loose and recovered by FSU guard Jerry Carmichael.
Late in the half, Weinke lost the ball again at his 14-yard line on a hit by backup end Andy Josephson. Rodderrick Roberts tried to scoop up the ball, but couldn't handle it, and running back Travis Minor recovered. Tech came into the game with a fumble return for a touchdown in each of the previous five games, an NCAA record.
Tech plays last-place Maryland next Saturday at Baltimore's Raven Stadium. Kickoff will be at either noon or 3:30 p.m., depending on whether ABC-TV exercises an option Monday to televise the game.
FSU hosts North Carolina next Saturday, then Virginia on Nov. 7. The Seminoles' only remaining road game is Nov. 14 at Wake Forest.
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