Originally created 09/08/02

Jackets cruise past Huskies



STORRS, Conn. - Georgia Tech's starters proved once again they can dominate a half.

Next week they should get the chance to play the whole game.

On Saturday, full-time work wasn't needed as the Yellow Jackets blitzed Connecticut 31-14 before a record crowd at the Huskies' Memorial Stadium. Georgia Tech (2-0) travels to Clemson (1-1) next week.

Using the same formula - tailback Tony Hollings, an efficient passing game and a stout defense - it executed in routing Vanderbilt in the season opener, Georgia Tech jumped in front of Connecticut 28-0 in the first half. Its starters played little, if at all, in the second half.

"We talked all week about starting fast, and that's what we did," Jackets quarterback A.J. Suggs said.

Indeed, Georgia Tech scored on four of its first five possessions - all touchdown runs by Hollings - to take a 28-0 lead by the second quarter. In the first half, Hollings rushed for 144 yards on 16 carries and four touchdowns, tying a school record for touchdowns and points scored in a game. He didn't play in the second half.

In two halves and one play, Hollings has 33 carries, 297 yards, six touchdowns and a 9.0-yards per carry average. His first-half yardage Saturday was the eighth-best performance in a half in school history.

On Saturday, Hollings opened the scoring on Georgia Tech's second play from scrimmage. Hollings went 34 yards on an inside draw to the right - the side of the line the Yellow Jackets wanted to try out against Connecticut.

After a 1-yard run put Georgia Tech ahead 14-0, Hollings went back behind the Yellow Jackets' behemoth left side and showcased his speed on a 46-yard dash on the final play of the first quarter.

He added the record-tying touchdown in the second quarter, matching a feat accomplished by five others, most recently Joe Burns against North Carolina in 2000.

"It's something you sit down and think about, 'If I can play a full game, what can I do?"' said Hollings, who played just one play in the second half against Vanderbilt. "Running hard like I did with the great blocking that my line gave me, there's no telling what I could do."

All of Georgia Tech's starters must be thinking that. Suggs was 9-of-14 for 136 yards, again coolly guiding the offense. Suggs would be among the nation's leaders in passing efficiency - if only he had enough attempts to qualify.

"A lot of us are ready for that full game," Suggs said.

The first-team defense can relate. For the second straight week, the Jackets' third string lost the shutout.Connecticut marched 80 yards on each of its final two drives, making the final score look closer than the game was.

Before those 160 yards, the Huskies managed just 89 yards of total offense. The Yellow Jackets held the Huskies to 13 yards on 16 plays in the first quarter.

Connecticut - in its third season at Division I-A - played hard throughout. The Huskies, missing two offensive starters, alternated quarterbacks Dan Orlovsky and Keron Henry throughout the game.

Each quarterback guided a scoring drive, but it was much too little, way too late. The Huskies lost their eighth straight.

"The experience they have on defense and the speed that they had on defense gave us some problems," said Huskies coach Randy Edsall, a former Georgia Tech defensive coordinator. "We just couldn't combat some of their size and speed on defense."

Connecticut and Vanderbilt have provided Georgia Tech its warm-ups: two games to break in a new coaching staff, new quarterback and new tailback, and to get a good look at the second team. How Georgia Tech's size and speed, dominant for two games, holds up against an ACC team on the road for a whole game remains to be seen.

"I don't know that we know exactly how we're going to react in a whole ballgame yet," first-year Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "We haven't gotten there. We haven't experienced it. I've got a good feeling, but who knows, we've got to go do it."

Next week, the Jackets will get their chance.

Reach Brian Murphy at 744-4208.