Davey Rescues LSU In A Peach

Georgia Tech's Jermaine Hatch (36) scores as LSU's Kareem Mitchell gives chase.
Ralph Friedgen could only watch.

The offensive mastermind wasn't able to call the plays for Georgia Tech. He wasn't able to dissect the LSU defense. He wasn't able to offer some advice that might have calmed quarterback George Godsey.

Without Friedgen, the No. 15 Yellow Jackets had their worst offensive performance of the season in the Peach Bowl, losing 28-14 Friday to LSU and showing just how much they'll miss their former coordinator.

Friedgen left to become the head coach at Maryland shortly after the final regular-season game. He was back in Atlanta for the Peach Bowl, but only to observe from a luxury box.

"Those were the exact same plays we would have called if coach Friedgen were here," Godsey said. "The execution just wasn't there."

Still, it was clear that Tech's explosive offense can expect some dropoff with 31-year-old Bill O'Brien as coordinator. The Yellow Jackets (9-3) had six turnovers half of their total for the entire regular season and managed only 100 yards in the decisive second half.

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  • Godsey, who had the second-greatest statistical season for a quarterback in Georgia Tech history, was only 19-of-36 for 177 yards. He threw two interceptions and also lost two fumbles.

    "It's all on me," O'Brien said. "He didn't play well and I take responsibility for it."

    Godsey was outplayed by LSU's backup quarterback. Rohan Davey took over in the second half for the struggling Josh Booty, throwing three touchdown passes to rally the Tigers from a 14-3 deficit.

    "I told my teammates we were going to win the game," Davey said. "All we had to do was relax, calm down and play our game."

    Davey had not played since an Oct. 7 loss at Florida, but first-year coach Nick Saban didn't hesitate to make a change when the Tigers (8-4) managed just 117 yards in the first half.

    Davey also had more protection up front aright tackle Brandon Winey, who wasn't even dressed in the first half because of a wrist injury, donned his pads to beef up LSU's beleaguered line.

    The results were immediate. With Davey completing five passes, the Tigers went 70 yards in nine plays for their first touchdown, a 3-yard completion to wide-open fullback Tommy Banks, his first TD since 1997.

    "Davey came into the game and sparked it for them," Tech defensive end Greg Gathers said. "They just built on that momentum."

    After piling up 157 yards in the third quarter to just 13 for the Yellow Jackets, LSU scored the go-ahead touchdown in the opening minute of the fourth quarter on a brilliant catch by Josh Reed.

    The 5-foot-11 receiver, running alone in the back of the end zone, jumped as high as he could to pull down the 9-yard pass, his right foot tapping inside the line just before he fell out of bounds.

    John Corbello kicked a career-best 49-yard field goal before Davey finished the comeback with another 3-yard touchdown pass to Banks. The scoring play with 3:12 remaining completed a 13-play, 91-yard drive that consumed more than seven minutes and clinched the offensive MVP award for Davey, who was 17-of-25 for 174 yards.

    Linebacker Bradie James, who missed nearly a week of practice after the death of his father, was named defensive MVP. He recovered two fumbles and had a sack.

    LSU was playing in its first bowl since 1997. A year ago, the Tigers went 3-8 under Gerry DiNardo, who was fired.

    The Yellow Jackets averaged 33.8 points with Friedgen as coordinator, but were completely inept in the second half. Tech didn't escape its own end of the field until a drive in the waning minutes reached the LSU 4.

    But, in a final indignity, Godsey was knocked out with a sprained left knee and Tech turned it over on downs.

    "Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would lose this game," offensive lineman Brent Key said.

    Georgia Tech could have buried LSU in the first half if not for four turnovers, plus a motion penalty that wiped out a 59-yard touchdown pass from Godsey to Kelly Campbell.

    Instead, the Yellow Jackets settled for a pair of TDs: Joe Burns' 32-yard run and Jermaine Hatch's 9-yarder.

    "We killed ourselves," Godsey said.

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