Washington leads Ga. Tech to 35-28 win over UNC

Everett Withers missed out on a chance to become the first North

Carolina coach to start 4-0 since the Atlantic Coast Conference was

founded 58 years ago.

He had no complaints about his team’s effort.

The Tar Heels (3-1, 1-1 ACC) fought back from a two-touchdown

deficit at the start of the fourth quarter, but No. 25 Georgia Tech

pulled out a 35-28 victory on Tevin Washington’s 5-yard touchdown

run with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining Saturday.

”I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” said Withers, who took

over as interim coach just before the start of preseason practice

when the scandal-plagued program dumped Butch Davis. ”We have a

chance to be good. We have a chance to be real good.”

So does Georgia Tech, which improved to 4-0 for the first time

since 1990. That was the season the Yellow Jackets went unbeaten

and claimed a share of the national championship with Colorado.

”After the first few games, we thought we would try and make

this more exciting,” joked coach Paul Johnson, whose team won its

first three games by an average of more than 37 points. ”I was

proud of our guys and especially the way we came back in the fourth

quarter.”

The Tar Heels were actually the ones who did most of the

rallying in the final period, tying the game on Giovani Bernard’s

55-yard run with 7:22 left.

Georgia Tech needed only four plays to respond in its conference

opener. Running back Roddy Jones reached out to take a pitch from

Washington that looked too far in front of him, going 48 yards down

the sideline to the North Carolina 9. Two snaps later, Washington

carried it in himself for the winning score with 5:20 left.

Stephen Hill had a huge game for Georgia Tech with six

receptions for 151 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown. Bernard

rushed for 155 yards and two TDs.

The Yellow Jackets came in with the nation’s highest-scoring

offense (59.3 points a game) and leading in several other offensive

categories. While not nearly as dominating as they were in the

first three games, they still had another big day offensively – 312

yards on the ground, 496 yards in all.

Still, the Tar Heels did a respectable job, especially without

leading tackler Zach Brown, who played only on the special teams

because of a disciplinary issue.

”I’m loving where we are right now,” Withers said. ”We had a

chance at the end. What more can you ask for?”

Washington coughed up a fumble and tossed an interception, but

mostly he ran the offense just as it’s drawn up. He completed 10 of

14 passes for 184 yards, hooking up with Hill on Georgia Tech’s

seventh one-play scoring drive of the season midway through the

second period.

Hill should’ve had another score, dropping a sure TD pass late

in the game after he again broke free behind the secondary. He

pulled up with some sort of cramp or hamstring problem just as the

ball arrived, then hobbled to the sideline.

It was hard to get too mad at the 6-foot-5 receiver, especially

with the leaping, one-handed grab he made on a pass in the first

half, somehow getting his fingers on the ball and pulling it down

as he fell hard to the ground.

”I just used my basketball skills from high school,” Hill

said.

Washington also ran 25 times for 74 yards, taking quite a

pounding from the Tar Heels.

”I knew I was going to have to make some plays in the running

game,” he said. ”Just making sure I didn’t try to do too much and

just do my job.”

North Carolina’s Bryn Renner completed 17 of 25 passes for 204

yards, but a couple of interceptions plagued the sophomore in his

first start outside of Chapel Hill.

”I can’t use that as an excuse,” he said. ”We didn’t make

enough plays to win. That’s all it boils down to.”

The Tar Heels trailed 17-7 at halftime, and Georgia Tech drove

for a field goal on the opening possession to extend its lead.

Renner and Bernard led North Carolina back. Renner completed

five straight passes on a right-down-the-field, 74-yard drive the

first time he got the ball, three of the completions going to

Dwight Jones before Nelson Hurst hauled in a 6-yard scoring

pass.

The shootout was on. Washington guided Georgia Tech on a

13-play, 81-yard drive and scored on a 1-yard dive. The Yellow

Jackets also made the 2-point conversion for their biggest

lead.

North Carolina didn’t fade. Renner completed three more passes

before hitting freshman Eric Ebron over the middle for a 20-yard TD

on the first play of the fourth quarter, drawing the Tar Heels

within 28-21.

Then, facing third-and-15 deep in Tar Heels territory, Bernard

took a short pass and broke at least three tackles on a 19-yard

play that kept the drive going. He followed with an even bigger

play, taking a handoff at his own 45 and going untouched up the

middle to make it 28-all.

North Carolina drove for its only lead on the first possession

of the game, with Bernard scoring on a 4-yard run. The Yellow

Jackets settled for Justin Moore’s 23-yard field goal on their

opening possession, breaking a streak of three straight games in

which they scored on their first offensive play.

Turns out, they saved that sort of quick strike for a possession

midway through the second period. From the 41, Washington fooled

the Tar Heels with a play that looked like a run. The cornerback

bit on the fake and Hill ran right on by, hauling in the pass on

the run and not stopping until he got to the end zone for a 10-7

lead.