Originally created 11/30/03

Bulldogs dominate Tech



ATLANTA -- Georgia did its part. Now, the Bulldogs have to hope it's good enough to get them back to the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Freshman center Nick Jones fell on a fumble in the end zone, Bryan McClendon blocked a punt to set up another touchdown and No. 5 Georgia defeated Georgia Tech for the third year in a row, 34-17 Saturday.

The Bulldogs (10-2) came into the day needing two things to happen. They had to beat Georgia Tech (6-6), which they did convincingly, and Tennessee had to knock off Kentucky to force a three-way tie for the SEC East title with Georgia and Florida.

Tennessee won 20-7, leaving Georgia in excellent position to defend its SEC championship next Saturday against West champion LSU. The league's convoluted tiebreaker system is based on the BCS standings; the Bulldogs were seventh, Tennessee eighth and Florida 11th after last week.

Even if Tennessee jumps Georgia, the Bulldogs would still get the nod based on their 41-14 victory over the Vols. Florida, which beat Georgia, could reach the championship game by passing Tennessee in the BCS standings, but that seemed unlikely.

Florida had to beat Florida State on Saturday to have any chance of denying the Bulldogs.

Georgia's fans seemed to understand what was happening as the final minutes ticked down. At one end of Bobby Dodd Stadium, they chanted "SEC! SEC! SEC!" At the other end, they performed the Florida State chop, hoping the Seminoles would make it official.

After beating Georgia Tech 51-7 the year before, the Bulldogs got off to another quick start, scoring two touchdowns less than two minutes apart in the first quarter.

David Greene set up the first score by completing a 46-yard pass to Fred Gibson, but the Bulldogs also needed a little luck. On first-and-goal at the 4, Greene tried to run it in but fumbled short of the goal line. The ball rolled into the end zone, where Jones fell on it for his first career touchdown.

Jones got the start only because Bartley Miller was injured.

On Georgia Tech's ensuing possession, McClendon broke through the line untouched and smothered Hal Higgins' attempted punt. Georgia recovered at the 13, and Kregg Lumpkin ran it in on the next play to give the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead.

Georgia Tech trailed 20-3 at halftime, their hopes of a comeback essentially snuffed out when freshman quarterback Reggie Ball trotted to the locker room with a possible concussion.

Ball returned after halftime without his shoulder pads, turning the game over to senior A.J. Suggs, who had not taken a snap all year.

Suggs threw a couple of long touchdown passes in the second half, but he also had two ugly interceptions that led to Georgia TDs.

Speaking of ugly, the state rivals showed plenty of animosity for each other. Georgia was penalized five times for late hits and unsportsmanlike conduct, while Georgia Tech was flagged three times - including a penalty against Ball for shoving a Georgia trainer after being pushed out of bounds near the Bulldogs' bench.

Greene completed 16 of 22 passes for 235 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown pass to Lumpkin. The freshman running back earned bragging rights over Ball, his former high school teammate.

Georgia also got a surprising contribution from fullback Jeremy Thomas, known primarily for his blocking. He scored on a 1-yard dive and also caught five passes for 51 yards.

Georgia Tech senior Jonathan Smith stood out in his final home game, catching nine passes for 108 yards.

Despite a two-game losing streak, the Yellow Jackets are bowl eligible. If invited, they likely will wind up in either the Continental Tire Bowl or the Humanitarian Bowl.