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Georgia Tech notebook: Smith regains lead in receptions for Jackets

POSTED: November 21, 2007 5:04 a.m.

ATLANTA — Missing one game cost Greg Smith the Georgia Tech lead in receptions. It didn’t take him long to regain that honor.

Smith caught six passes for 155 yards, including touchdown catches of 40 and 47 yards, to lead Georgia Tech to a 27-25 win over North Carolina on Saturday.

Starter Taylor Bennett threw the 40-yarder. Freshman Josh Nesbitt’s first career touchdown pass was the 47-yarder early in the fourth quarter.

"It was a great play by Josh," Smith said. "All I had to do was run my route and catch the ball."

Smith missed last week’s win over Duke with a sore knee. Damaryius Thomas had two catches in the game to pass Smith for the team lead.

With his six catches, Smith again leads the Yellow Jackets with 31 receptions. Thomas had three catches for 37 yards, giving him 29 for the season.

Most of Smith’s production, including both of his touchdown catches, came in the second half.

"The last couple of weeks my knee has been hurting," Smith said. "In the first half, I didn’t have much. In the second half I went out and gave it everything I had."

Brooks is dominant

Tech punter Durant Brooks must like the cool November air. Brooks averaged 60 yards on four punts, including long punts of 77 and 63 yards to give the Yellow Jackets a big advantage in field position.

Georgia Tech had to punt from its 7 early in the second quarter. North Carolina should have come away from the punt with good field position. Instead, Brooks’ punt soared over the head of return specialist Brandon Tate and bounced to the North Carolina 17.

It was the longest punt in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, the longest ever for a North Carolina opponent and tied for the seventh-longest in Tech history.

Brooks’ 63-yarder later in the game was thg 11th of his career of at least 60 yards.

North Carolina’s Terrence Brown averaged only 34.4 yards on seven punts, including a key 29-yard effort that went out of bounds at the 50, setting up Georgia Tech for the possession that ended with Travis Bell’s game-winning field goal.

Big change for Little

Greg Little spent most of the season at wide receiver before moving to tailback this week. He became the Tar Heels’ third starter at tailback this season and rushed for 89 yards on 24 carries.

Little followed Johnny White (eight starts) and Anthony Elzy (two starts).

"We tried giving him some opportunities a few weeks ago after going with a running back by committee early in the season," said North Carolina coach Butch Davis. "We could see what the guys were giving us after 10 games."

North Carolina was held to 12 yards rushing in last week’s loss to North Carolina State.

Little had a 38-yard run on the final play of the third quarter to set up T.J. Yates’ 14-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks.

Little gained 115 yards but lost 26 yards, including a 20-yard loss when he failed to handle a pitch from Yates in the first half. Georgia Tech’s Vance Walker recovered the fumble at the North Carolina 22 to set up a field goal.

Davis said Little only was given a limited portion of the playbook for tailbacks.

"We can’t give him everything, but what we gave him he did very well," Davis said.

North Carolina milestones

Brandon Tate became the ACC’s career leader in kickoff return yards. With three returns for 74 yards, including a 46-yarder, he has 2,360 career yards, passing the mark of 2,313 yards by former North Carolina return specialist Eric Blount. ... Connor Barth had four field goals to set the Carolina career record with 54, passing the 52 by Josh McGee (1996-99). Barth tied his personal high with four field goals. He also had four against Miami this season. ... Hakeem Nicks had seven catches for 162 yards, topping 100 yards for the third time this season. ... Yates’ 283 yards passing gave him 2,586 for the season, passing Darian Durant’s school record of 2,551 in 2003.

Next up

It didn’t take long for the conversation in the Tech lockerroom to turn to next week’s game against Georgia.

"It’s good that we won, but the next game is Georgia," said linebacker Gary Guyton. "Everybody knows that’s the state’s rivalry game and we look forward to it."


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