Originally created 11/12/06

Yellow Jackets downplay title



CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The celebration several years in the making never came.

No dog piles.

No smiles or hugs.

No whooping or hollering.

Just 50-some Georgia Tech football players warily lifting their helmets as a salute to a few thousand fans.

Georgia Tech won its first championship since 1998 on Saturday, defeating lowly North Carolina 7-0 before 41,000 fans at Kenan Stadium.

But the only acknowledgment the Yellow Jackets made of their Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title came later in the form of gold T-shirts proclaiming them division champs.

And many of the players purposely hid those shirts under warm-up jackets, unwilling to claim any title before playing in the ACC Championship game on Dec. 2 in Jacksonville.

"The championship is not won," quarterback Reggie Ball said. "We just earned a date on Dec. 2, that's it. It's definitely not won."

Georgia Tech (8-2 overall, 6-1 ACC) labored against a North Carolina team without a victory over a Division I-A opponent this year.

Only a stingy and opportunistic defense bailed the Yellow Jackets out.

Georgia Tech defensive backs Kenny Scott and Jamal Lewis each intercepted passes in the end zone to turn away North Carolina's only scoring threats. The Tar Heels crossed midfield on just two other series as the Yellow Jackets posted their first shutout since the 2000 season.

"We've been shooting for a shutout all year," Scott said. "And if there ever was a day where we needed one, it was today."

A bad day offensively required the defensive stand. Georgia Tech's offense had its second worst game of the season, finishing with 211 yards and turning the ball over twice.

Georgia Tech's touchdown came in the second quarter on tailback Tashard Choice's 3-yard run on a third-and-goal play. Choice rushed for 119 yards in the game.

The Jackets have two regular season games left before the ACC Championship. They play Duke next Saturday in Atlanta before finishing up against rival Georgia in Athens, Ga.

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