Nov. 13, 1999
By TOM SALADINO AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA – Don’t count Georgia Tech’s Joe Hamilton out of the Heisman Trophy race.
“It’s not over yet,” Hamilton said after he threw for 322 yards, matched a school record with five touchdown passes and ran for another 88 yards Saturday as the 13th-ranked Yellow Jackets held off a fourth-quarter charge to beat Clemson 45-42.
“I’m not trying to win anybody over (in the voting),” Hamilton said. “I’ve got two more games to be on stage, to do my thing.”
Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne, who needed 99 yards to become the major college career rushing leader, is considered the frontrunner for the award.
“What Ron Dayne is doing is great,” Hamilton said. “I’m just not too informed on what it’s (the voting) based on.”
Georgia Tech (7-2, 5-2 ACC) took over second place in the conference from Clemson (5-5, 5-3) and virtually clinched a second straight bid to the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day.
“It’s pretty much down to the winner of the Georgia Tech-Clemson game,” Gator Bowl chairman Andy Cheney said before the game.
Hamilton had touchdown passes of 28 and 42 yards to Kelly Campbell and a a 12-yarder to Conrad Andrzejewski before Sean Gregory, who had 101 yards rushing on 24 carries, had a 3-yard TD run in the opening half. Hamilton hit Kerry Watkins on a 9-yard TD and Ed Wilder on a 3-yarder in the second half.
For the season, Hamilton is 158-of-233 for 2,438 yards and 24 TDs with eight interceptions. He’s also rushed for 604 yards and six TDs.
Hamilton’s five TD passes equaled the school record set in 1972 by Eddie McAshan against Rice. He was 22-of-30 and had two interceptions and also had 19 carries.
“Being the leader that he is, Joe got the team up and brought us through with another victory,” said Campbell, who caught eight passes for 135 yards.
“Joe Hamilton made some great, great plays. He did the things you would expect him to do,” Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. “When you score 42 points and don’t make any turnovers, you would expect to win. The better team won today.”
Clemson got three 1-yard touchdowns from Travis Zachery and quarterback Woodrow Dantzler ran for another of 22 yards and threw for scores of 17 yards to Pat Cyrgalis and 19 yards to Mal Lawyer.
The Yellow Jackets broke from a 28-28 halftime tie with a 36-yard field goal from Luke Manget early in the third quarter. Hamilton then connected with Watkins on a 9-yard scoring strike with 3:32 left for a 38-28 lead.
Hamilton made it 45-28 with a 3-yard TD strike to Wilder only 36 seconds into the fourth quarter before Clemson rallied after Tech’s much-maligned defense held Clemson to only 20 yards and no first downs in the third quarter.
The Tigers, however, made it 45-35 with 11:44 left when Dantzler, filling in for the injured Brandon Streeter, who dislocated his hip late in the first quarter, threw a 19-yard TD pass to Lawyer.
Dantzler was 13-of-24 for 185 yards and ran for 120 yards on 26 carries. Hamilton, who was intercepted twice and fumbled once, threw his second interception with 10:05 left when he was picked off by Alex Ardley, who returned it 13 yards to Tech’s 31.
Zachery scored eight plays later from the 1 to get the Tigers within 45-42 and had another chance to win it when Clemson stopped Tech with 4:32 left.
But the Yellow Jackets stopped Clemson’s Joe Don Reames for a 4-yard loss on third-and-7 at Tech’s 43 and defensive back Chris Young knocked down a pass from Dantzler to Lawyer near the goal line on fourth down with 3:07 left.
Tech took over and ran out the clock.
Clemson still has a chance to qualify for a bowl by beating South Carolina next Saturday in Bowden’s first season after the Tigers finished 3-8, 1-7 in the ACC, last season.
Tech, which leads the nation in scoring (41.1 points) and total offense (508 yards), entering the game, had 537 total yards. Clemson, with its no-huddle offense, managed 428 yards against a defense that was pounded last week in a 45-38 loss to Virginia that dealt a severe blow to their Bowl Championship Series bid.
Tech can clinch second place by beating Wake Forest next week.
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