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Georgia Tech upsets third-ranked Miami

Published: Sunday, Nov. 20 2005 12:00 a.m. MST

Georgia Tech running back Tashard Choice runs past Miami defenders for first down in Saturday's game.

Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press

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MIAMI — Blitzing on almost every play, Georgia Tech was in Kyle Wright's face all night. And when he threw the ball up for grabs with the game on the line, the Yellow Jackets were there, too.

They sacked Wright seven times and made two late defensive stands, intercepting his final pass to upset the third-ranked Miami Hurricanes 14-10 Saturday night.

"Not anyone believed it could happen," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said.

KaMichael Hall had two sacks and made a fourth-down stop to end a Miami threat midway through the fourth quarter. Wright moved the Hurricanes 62 yards to the Georgia Tech 27 with 1:46 left before he was intercepted by Dennis Davis, and the Yellow Jackets ran out the clock.

"With any quarterback, if we keep pressuring him, he's eventually going to fold," defensive end Eric Henderson said. "He can't keep getting hit like that all night. No quarterback can."

The Hurricanes (8-2, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) were eliminated from contention for a berth in the national championship game. They lost for the first time since their season opener at Florida State.

"We played about as bad as we could have played," said Wright, who threw for five scores a week ago at Wake Forest but managed just one touchdown pass against the Yellow Jackets' relentless blitzing. "They were doing things we prepared for. They just did a good job of doing it."

The Yellow Jackets (7-3, 5-3) bounced back from a loss a week ago to Virginia. They also shook off an NCAA decision this week to place the school on two years' probation for using 17 academically ineligible athletes in four sports, including 11 in football.

"These guys have a tremendous ability to compartmentalize — put all the junk to the side and play the game," Gailey said. "All the other stuff they can't control. What we can control is what happened out there."

Georgia Tech mounted touchdown marches of 68 and 61 yards against the nation's No. 1-ranked defense, and Miami penalties contributed to both drives.

Interference on Marcus Maxey negated an interception in the end zone three plays before Tashard Choice scored the game's first points on a 2-yard touchdown run. A penalty for excessive celebration led to the Yellow Jackets' other score on a 16-yard keeper by Reggie Ball.

Ball went only 11-for-30 for 159 yards, but in key situations he repeatedly found Calvin Johnson, who had six receptions for 89 yards.

Georgia Tech hardly looked like the same team that gave up 51 points to Virginia Tech in September, shutting out Miami in the second half. The Hurricanes converted one of 14 third-down situations and totaled 30 yards rushing.

Wright went 14-for-31 for 207 yards and netted minus-35 yards rushing.

"It's pretty obvious tonight we got it handed to us," coach Larry Coker said.

Still, a fumbled punt by Georgia Tech gave Miami a chance to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter. But on fourth-and-1 at the 12, Charlie Jones was thrown for a 3-yard loss by Hall.

"We didn't need to force the ball," Coker said. "We had timeouts left and probably could have thrown something underneath."

The final minutes would have been less harrowing for Georgia Tech had Travis Bell not missed earlier field goal attempts of 42 and 44 yards.

Wright looked best on Miami's final possession of the first half. With the Hurricane trailing 7-3 and starting at their own 10, he went 3-for-3 for 71 yards to get them into the end zone for the first time.

Ryan Moore made an over-the-shoulder catch for a 37-yard gain, and Sinorice Moss scored on a 19-yard reception with 57 seconds left in the half to put Miami ahead 10-7.

The excessive celebration penalty on linebacker Rocky McIntosh helped the Yellow Jackets escape a third-and-4 situation, setting up Ball's run to put them ahead to stay.

It was a tough end to an embarrassing week for the Hurricanes. A lewd rap song performed by a group including several current and former players surfaced on the Internet, prompting athletic director Paul Dee to apologize on behalf of the school.

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