Football Can't Overcome Second Half Surge

October 31, 1998

AP Sports Writer


Joey Hamilton was playing hurt, and it showed. Phillip Rogers, the leading rusher on the team, had a shoulder bruise that limited his effectiveness.

For a half, it mattered. The second half was quite a different story.

Dez White returned a kickoff 100 yards and Joe Burns' 44-yard touchdown run sparked a third-quarter surge that carried No. 23 Georgia Tech past Maryland 31-14 Saturday.

Georgia Tech (6-2, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) managed only 95 yards, missed two field goal tries and didn't score on offense during a 14-14 first half. But the Yellow Jackets amassed 149 yards in the third quarter and outscored Maryland 17-0 to pull away.

"We just had to get focused and realize what we're playing for. We're trying to attain the ACC championship, and we need to stay focused on that," said Burns, who ran for 143 yards in the second half.

Burns, a freshman, finished with 179 yards on 20 carries to help Georgia Tech bounce back from last week's 34-7 loss to Florida State.

Hamilton, who suffered a hip pointer injury in that game, hardly looked like the top-rated passer in the ACC - he finished 11-for-26 for 118 yards after going 6-for-16 for 58 yards before halftime.

It didn't matter, because White kept Georgia Tech close in the first half with his kickoff return and Burns did the job after halftime.

"Joe Burns had a good day. We needed someone to step up and he did that," Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary said.

A crowd of 25,183 showed up at the Baltimore Ravens' 69,000-seat stadium at Camden Yards to watch Maryland's first game in Baltimore since 1991.

"It wasn't as loud as we're used to. I guess it just kind of lulled us to sleep," White said. "But once we came in at halftime, we were saying that we didn't think the game should have been close. Everybody kind of got fired up about that."

Maryland (2-6, 0-5) lost its fourth straight. The Terrapins, who led 14-7 after the first quarter, have a combined 34 points in those four losses.

Freshman quarterback Randall Jones scored on a 40-yard run but was 4-for-15 for 27 yards.

"Our biggest nemesis is getting things going with our passing game," Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden said. "We run the ball well enough to win, but we have to find a passing attack."

Georgia Tech wasted little time taking control in the pivotal third quarter. After Maryland missed a field goal, the Yellow Jackets covered 71 yards in five plays in a drive capped by Burns' touchdown run off an option pitch.

A Maryland fumble was quickly converted into a 39-yard field goal by Brad Chambers, and Georgia Tech made it 31-14 when Hamilton capped a 65-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ed Wilder.

"I give credit to Maryland, they did some different things to us the first half defensively and made some adjustments," O'Leary said. "But the kids came out and did the things they have to do in the second half and controlled the game."

Maryland went up 7-0 with just 1:46 elapsed when defensive end Peter Timmins picked off Hamilton's screen pass - actually ruled a lateral - and rambled 32 yards for a touchdown.

White took the ensuing kickoff on his goal line, broke through a crowd at the 20 and cut left before outdistancing Maryland kicker Brian Kopka to quickly silence the crowd.

A 40-yard run by Maryland quarterback Randall Jones on an option play made it 14-7. It was the longest run of the freshman's career and his first touchdown.

White returned the kickoff 46 yards to the Maryland 31, but the Yellow Jackets ended up punting and on their next possession missed a 35-yard field goal attempt.

Tech's Jerry Caldwell picked up an errant pitch by Jones and took it 19 yards for the tying score with 9:24 left in the half. It was the sixth time this season the Yellow Jackets scored on a fumble return.