Originally created 09/13/99

Georgia Tech loses Burns for season



Georgia Tech has lost its third-leading rusher Joe Burns for the rest of the season with a broken right ankle suffered Saturday night in the Yellow Jackets' 41-35 loss at top-ranked Florida State.

Burns, a sophomore from Thomasville, sustained the injury after making a 14-yard gain in the fourth quarter.

"It was a heartbreaker," said Tech coach George O'Leary, whose Yellow Jackets fell to No. 12 in Sunday's Associated Press poll. "He took the pitch on the option and turned the corner, but he got caught from behind and his leg buckled as the guy came over the top.

"He'll be out for the year. Hopefully we can put in for a medical redshirt year because it occurred before the third game."

Listed as a co-starter with senior Phillip Rogers, Burns is Tech's third-leading rusher and second-leading receiver with 87 yards rushing on 14 carries (6.2-yard average) and seven catches for 96 yards and one touchdown.

He led the Jackets with 474 yards rushing and five touchdowns last season.

In Saturday night's early-season Atlantic Coast Conference showdown, Joe Hamilton gave Georgia Tech more than an edge in the game against the Seminoles before a sellout crowd of 80,187 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium and a national television audience. More than the yardage and touchdowns, the senior quarterback finally gave the Yellow Jackets hope that a seven-year losing streak would finally end.

And yet, it still wasn't enough.

If Georgia Tech can't win on a night when its quarterback hits 22-of-25 passes -- including all 14 he attempted in the second half -- for a career-best 387 yards and four touchdowns, the question may loom for generations: Will the Yellow Jackets ever win?

Even on a night when the Florida State defense seemed helpless in stopping Hamilton, the Seminoles found a way to win. Georgia Tech, however, found a way to lose.

A school that requires each student to pass three calculus classes suddenly has football players who can't count to 11. The Yellow Jackets defense was twice caught playing with 12 men, and both penalties gave Florida State a key first down in what proved to be scoring drives.

An offsides penalty on fourth-and-inches gave the Seminoles another first down, and a personal foul on cornerback Jamara Clark for hitting Florida State receiver Tay Cody three seconds after an incompletion gave the Seminoles a first down instead of forcing a punt. Florida State turned that mistake into a 45-yard Sebastain Janikowski field goal.

"I'm not proud any time we lose," said O'Leary. "Hopefully we can come together and learn from our mistakes and go from there. I thought it was a track meet offensively for both units. We just made too many mistakes, too many careless penalties."

One of Georgia Tech's keys heading into the game was putting pressure on quarterback Chris Weinke. The Yellow Jackets got to Weinke one time, but other than that, he had his choice of open receivers.

The defense gave up 444 total yards, including another standout performance from Peter Warrick. He caught eight passes for 142 yards and a 26-yard touchdown, and he added a 17-yard touchdown run.

The Warrick-Hamilton Heisman showdown was everything fans wanted -- and more.

"You might have seen the two Heisman Trophy candidates in Hamilton and Peter. Hamilton had some tough times against us. He made have made up for it.

"This was two great players making great plays."

In three previous starts against Florida State, Hamilton had completed only 21 passes of 169 yards with three interceptions and no touchdowns. More importantly, he was knocked out of the game in every season leading up to Saturday.

Hamilton finished on his feet and that allowed him to amass 405 total yards -- the second-most in Georgia Tech history.

"We hit and they hit back," Hamilton said. "They made plays and we made plays right back. They just made more plays than we did. We feel we can make plays against anyone in the country. The only thing we didn't do is win the game."

And play defense. Morris News Service sports editor Don Coble and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Don Coble at doncoble@mindspring.com

"It was a heartbreaker. He took the pitch on the option and turned the corner, but he got caught from behind and his leg buckled as the guy came over the top. He'll be out for the year."

-- Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary