Originally created 10/17/01

Georgia Tech reeling after two losses in past three games

ATLANTA -- Two losses in the past three games - both in overtime - have left Georgia Tech's season teetering on the brink of disaster.

The Yellow Jackets slipped all the way to 23rd in the latest Associated Press poll, and a team that was supposed to challenge for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship is 1-2 and tied for sixth with North Carolina State.

Both of Tech's defeats have come at home, and it doesn't get any easier Saturday when the Wolfpack visit Bobby Dodd Stadium. If the Yellow Jackets hope to have any chance at that ACC title, they can't afford any more slip-ups.

"If we lose another game, our season's done," safety Chris Young said Tuesday.

Tech lost a huge opportunity last Thursday, losing to Maryland 20-17 in overtime. The Terrapins jumped to an early 14-0 lead, fell behind 17-14, then tied the game on the final play with a field goal. Another field goal was good enough for the victory when Tech tailback Joe Burns fumbled on the second play of the extra period.

Another costly mistake helped Clemson rally for an overtime victory Sept. 29, when Young let J.J. McKelvey get behind him for a 63-yard go-ahead score late in regulation. The Yellow Jackets eventually lost that game 47-44 in OT.

"It hurts to lose like that, especially for those two games," Young said. "It's not supposed to happen. We had so many expectations to look forward to at the beginning of the year."

Not all of those are out of reach, at least not yet. An unpredictable ACC season has undefeated Maryland at the top, with North Carolina, Florida State and Clemson all with one loss. Virginia's next at 2-2, followed by the Yellow Jackets and N.C. State.

The Terrapins, under new coach and former Tech assistant Ralph Friedgen, have games with the Seminoles and Tigers, as well as the Wolfpack.

Young and the other seniors held a players-only meeting Sunday night to stress that some goals are still attainable.

"I had tears in my eyes, just telling people how I felt," Young said. "A lot of guys felt (like) me. It's very emotional to know that we're a whole lot better than we're playing now."

The meeting came after coach George O'Leary discussed the Maryland loss during the team's regular Sunday night meeting.

"I told them, 'Don't look at me for sympathy, because you're not going to get any,"' O'Leary said. "I'm damn annoyed that we're where we're at, because we didn't finish some things we need to finish."

What did the coach think of the players-only meeting?

"This a great character team," O'Leary said. "I think it speaks for the seniors. They want to win.

"It also speaks for the program that at 4-2 with two overtime losses, people are a little antsy. That's great. I think that's where the program should be."

But O'Leary couldn't resist a chance to needle his players about their timing.

"They always meet after I talk," he joked. "They said what I just said. I can't imagine them saying, 'That's not what we want to do."'


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