Bennett says he's the key

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ATLANTA - Georgia Tech quarterback Taylor Bennett made a bold prediction in the wake of his breakout performance in Saturday's 28-26 loss to Maryland.

"I've just got to keep playing like I did in the second half and we'll win ball games," said Bennett, who completed 13-of-16 passes for 202 yards after halftime. "We'll win big."

Considering the Yellow Jackets' failures in tight games, Bennett and the offense better put up loads of points if they are to make a run in the season's second half. Georgia Tech lost Saturday by less than a touchdown for the second time in three weeks.

With the first-team defense playing with the consistency of curdled milk - no touchdowns allowed in three wins, 10 in three losses - a prolific offense is a must.

Bennett's play hints at the explosiveness Georgia Tech possesses. The running game has been effective all year, with tailback Tashard Choice on pace for 1,300 yards by the end of the 12-game regular season.

But the Yellow Jackets went into the Maryland game ranked 112th out of the 119 Division I-A teams in passing offense.

Bennett was erratic and at times appeared unsure of himself in the first five games - not out of the ordinary for a first-year starting quarterback.

It was more of the same in the first half against Maryland, when screens appeared to be the only passes he had a chance at completing.

John Bond, the offensive coordinator, anticipated a turnaround when Bennett came up to him before he left the locker room and said, "Coach, keep calling those plays, because I promise you I'll hit those throws in the second half."

"We really didn't do anything magical or do anything different, he just started making plays," Bond said. "He put us in a position to win the game."

With a 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference record, the Yellow Jackets can't be considered contenders for the Coastal Division title and a spot in the ACC Championship Game. Virginia (3-0) leads the division.

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


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