Originally created 09/18/00

Ga. Tech begins righting ship



ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech fans were pretty happy at the end of the Yellow Jackets' 40-13 win over Navy at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

All they cared about was the score, which indicated a dominance that was not there.

Tech coach George O'Leary wasn't in such a festive mood afterward.

"I thought we played well enough to win," said O'Leary, concern clouding his ruddy Irish brow. "But a lot of the points we scored were on field position stuff."

Indeed, Navy (0-2) fumbled six times, losing four, prompting head coach Charlie Weatherbie to fret over a missed opportunity.

"You can't play anybody with four turnovers and expect to be in the ball game. That killed us," said Weatherbie. "I thought we had an opportunity coming out in the second half. Were in the ball game, but we didn't make it happen."

The Midshipmen ran 92 offensive plays to Tech's 59, resulting in Navy holding an 11-minute advantage in time of possession. Those numbers that were skewed somewhat by three of Tech's touchdowns: Greg Gathers' 6-yard fumble return, Sidney Ford's 1-yard dive two plays after another Navy fumble and Kelly Campbell's 50-yard TD catch that culminated a two-play drive.

But the Tech defense's performance in third-down situations -- the Mids were 10-of-20 -- is cause for worry, as were the big plays. The Jackets allowed a 34-yard touchdown pass and Navy had a 98-yard kickoff return called back on a penalty.

"I'm concerned about our play on third down," said O'Leary. "We had too many third-and-twos, third-and-ones. That's what the wishbone does to you. We've got some guys making plays and others who are not."

Tech scored touchdowns after each of the four fumble recoveries (two of them came inside the Navy 10 yard line), which accounted for the 27-point difference in the final score.

That's not a series of events the Jackets can count on when they face tougher competition, like their next opponent, 3-0 North Carolina State.

"They're obviously playing with a lot of confidence right now," said O'Leary. "They're spreading things out and throwing the ball all over the place, but they still have the ability run the ball."

The Jackets play Thursday against a North Carolina State team that has scored 120 points in three games, but needed two overtimes to beat Arkansas State.

Tech last played a Thursday game after playing the previous Saturday in 1996, and the Jackets have split four games in such situations.

It will be their first road game, by virtue of the cancellation of their BCA Bowl game at Virginia Tech.