Originally created 10/30/04

Jackets hurt their bowl hopes



ATLANTA - A loss is a loss as far as Georgia Tech's football team is concerned.

Thursday's 34-20 defeat to No. 22 Virginia Tech didn't hurt any more or any less than the Jackets' two losses earlier this year to North Carolina and Miami, players said.

"You can't compare losses," linebacker Chris Reis said. "Just chalk it up as win or a loss, and the losses hurt."

The Yellow Jackets' bowl chances smart the most from the defeat.

Georgia Tech (4-3 overall, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) needs two wins in its remaining four games to become bowl eligible.

The Yellow Jackets controlled the game for 54 minutes. They took a 20-12 lead on a Travis Bell field goal with 5 minutes, 44 seconds remaining and forced Virginia Tech to start its ensuing possession on its 20-yard line.

On the Hokies' first play, though, a mix-up in the Georgia Tech secondary left wide receiver Eddie Royal wide open.

Virginia Tech quarterback Bryan Randall hit Royal for an 80-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion tied the score at 20-20.

Randall and the Hokies' offense got the ball back just over a minute later. After a run for no gain, Randall picked up 32 yards on a quarterback draw, giving Virginia Tech a first down at midfield.

Georgia Tech called a corner blitz on the next play. Randall and receiver Josh Morgan read it, and Morgan beat free safety James Butler for a 51-yard touchdown.

"I anticipated a play that I thought they were going to run based on film, but when you anticipate the wrong play, you know what happens," said Butler, who had set up a Georgia Tech touchdown with an interception earlier in the game.

Those two plays erased an otherwise impressive showing by the Jackets.

"We had a two-and-a-half-minute lull," Reis said. "Ball games always come down to five plays. We made two of them. They made three of them."

Big plays weren't all that devastated the Yellow Jackets on Thursday. Tailback P.J. Daniels left the game after his first carry of the second half and did not return.

Georgia Tech managed just two first downs without Daniels - both on the same drive.

The Yellow Jackets had nine second-half possessions. Five of those ended in punts, two in interceptions, one in a safety and one in a field goal.

Still, the Yellow Jackets had the lead with four minutes to go, but couldn't hold onto it.

"We got complacent. We thought we had the game in the bag," center Andy Tidwell-Neal said. "You should never think that. The game is never in the bag. It's a clich, but it ain't over till it's over."

Georgia Tech will take the same approach to the remainder of its season.

"We have N.C. State next week," Reis said. "We'll learn from our mistakes and move on."

Reach Adam Van Brimmer at adam.vanbrimmer@morris.com or (404) 589-8424.