Originally created 01/02/00

Hamilton stymied in his final game



JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Joe Hamilton promised he was going to pull something special from his hat for his last game at Georgia Tech. Surely, this isn't what he had in mind.

For the first time in 14 games, he failed to throw a touchdown pass. For one of the few times in his stellar career, Hamilton failed to lead the Yellow Jackets to a comeback victory.

He can blame Miami's defense for that.

"It comes down to Miami making the plays," Hamilton said softly after the Hurricanes smothered Georgia Tech for a 28-13 victory in the Gator Bowl on Saturday. "Miami just handed it to us. I thought we had a game we should have won, and we just let it slip out of our hands."

Hamilton, the co-MVP in the Gator Bowl a year ago following the Yellow Jackets' victory over Notre Dame, was 20-of-40 for 245 yards and also ran for 49 yards on 22 carries, one of them a 17-yard touchdown late in the first half.

The completions and attempts were Gator Bowl records, but Hamilton wanted much more.

"I would have liked to have seen Joe go out with a win," coach George O'Leary said. "He's done so much for Georgia Tech and the ACC."

And yet, he couldn't muster anything against the Hurricanes.

Miami refused to let Hamilton get out on the perimeter, where his speed and shiftiness has caused so many problems for opponents the past four years. Hamilton, who set 18 school records, is the only player in NCAA history to have 1,500 yards rushing among his 10,000-plus yards in total offense.

He also was sacked three times, and his two interceptions came after Georgia Tech had driven inside the Miami 30.

"I don't think a lot of Joe's problems today were Joe's problems," O'Leary said. "He had some receivers breaking routes, and we needed to sturdy up the offensive line. Too many times he was throwing off his back foot because of the pressure."

Georgia Tech's last hope came with 1:19 left. Hamilton found Dez White for 15 yards and Gordon Clinkscale for nine yards to the Miami 28. But Hamilton was sacked on the next two plays, and his fourth-and-14 pass went only 10 yards to White.

Hamilton snapped the chin strap off and walked slowly to the sidelines as Miami ran out the clock.

"To play as poorly offensively as we did, to play as poorly as I did personally, it's tough," Hamilton said. "It hurts to play that way your last game."