Originally created 11/29/03

Loss still stings Yellow Jackets



ATLANTA - His normally present smile becomes a frown with just the mention of last year's Georgia game.

For Jonathan Smith, Georgia Tech's senior wide receiver, the 51-7 beating still stings.

"That was pretty much the worst I ever got beaten," Smith said. "It was kind of embarrassing."

There was little kind of about it. Georgia dominated every phase of the game in its biggest victory against the Yellow Jackets in series history - which dates to 1893. Georgia scored the game's first 44 points, amassed 552 yards of total offense and forced five turnovers in the beating at Stanford Stadium in Athens.

"When it rains, it pours, and it kept pouring that game," Georgia Tech senior linebacker Daryl Smith said.

And nothing in the past year has eased the Yellow Jackets' pain.

Georgia Tech (6-5) gets its first chance to do something about it today against No. 5 Georgia (9-2). The Yellow Jackets have spent the past year being reminded about the events of that Saturday in Athens. As if the teasing of friends and the questioning of friends wasn't enough, Georgia Tech's coaching staff made sure the Yellow Jackets didn't forget the score this week.

A newspaper clipping of Georgia's victory and the ensuing celebration hung in the Yellow Jackets' weight room. Head coach Chan Gailey made mention of it before Georgia Tech began preparations for the Bulldogs this week.

"I know I will never forget it," said Gailey, who coached in his first Georgia-Georgia Tech game last season. "Probably as long as you live, it's something you never forget, but it has no bearing on this game. This game is its own game and it's a different year, and a different set of circumstances."

The Yellow Jackets are bowl eligible, but a victory could keep them from a dreaded trip to the Jan. 3 Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho. Georgia has much bigger things on the line. A trip to the Southeastern Conference championship game and a possible Bowl Championship Series berth are at stake, adding fuel to an already intense rivalry.

And nothing makes it burn quite like a blowout.

Georgia entered last year's game riding high from a last-second victory against Auburn that clinched a spot in the SEC title game. The Bulldogs seized momentum early, grabbing a 7-0 lead on its first possession of the game.

"We just caught momentum and didn't let go," Georgia head coach Mark Richt said.

Georgia scored 27 more points in the first half and led 34-0 at halftime. Georgia Tech turned the ball over three times in the half and had a long field goal attempt blocked. The Bulldogs, who would win the SEC title and the Sugar Bowl last season, scored the first 10 points of the second half before the Yellow Jackets finally got on the board early in the fourth quarter. Georgia added a late touchdown, giving the Bulldogs a new series record for points scored 51.

"It got ugly real quick," Jonathan Smith said. "They just fed off it and fed off it, and we couldn't stop anything they threw at us."

Gailey said after the game he would not show his team a film of the game, but in the off-season he watched it a number of times. As did center Hugh Reilly. But neither Jonathan Smith nor Daryl Smith could stomach a revisiting of the game. Both had their fill of trying to explain it already.

"You go back home and friends are asking you what happened. I really didn't have (an answer)," Daryl Smith said.

Smith knows there is only one way to stop being asked that question - victory.

"We're trying to change the outcome of that this year," Smith said.