Georgia Tech: 23
After rebounding from a tough loss at Notre Dame with a tight 28-26 win at Wake Forest, Georgia Tech returned to The Flats to host the Clemson Tigers in the 1997 home opener.
Clemson entered the contest at 2-0, having defeated Appalachian State and North Carolina State to climb to 17th in the Associated Press rankings. The Jackets had lost four straight to the Tigers, with their last victory coming in Atlanta in 1992 in the form of a 20-16 victory.
After slugging it out over the first several possessions, the Jackets jumped ahead 3-0 midway through the first quarter on a 47 yard field goal by Dave Frakes.
The Tech defense held strong as the quarter rolled along, and Joe Hamilton led the Ramblin’ Wreck offense to a touchdown with 38 seconds left in the period. The second year quarterback connected with Harvey Middleton for 13 yards for the score to increase the Yellow Jacket lead to 10-0.
Much of the second quarter passed with little action before the Tigers mounted a late drive to cut the Tech lead to 10-7 with less than a minute to play before halftime. It was Terry Witherspoon that finally put the Tigers on the board with a one yard run for the touchdown.
Early in the third quarter, the Yellow Jacket defense forced a Tiger punt from near midfield, and cornerback Jason Bostic broke through to block Kevin Laird’s punt around the 30 yard line. Travares Tillman then scooped up the loose ball and returned it to the end zone for a touchdown to push the Tech lead back to ten at 17-7.
But Clemson wasted no time in responding, as Nealon Greene found Mal Lawyer for a 30 yard touchdown pass less than two minutes later the trim the Tech lead back to three.
As play moved into the final period, the Jackets pushed inside the Clemson 30, but stalled near the 28. Brad Chambers came on to hit from 45 yards out, and the Yellow Jacket lead was back at six.
About three minutes later, Clemson scored on a six yard run by Raymond Priester, but Matt Padgett missed the extra point to keep the game knotted at 20-all.
The teams exchanged punts as the fourth quarter ticked away, and the Jackets set themselves up with excellent field position late when they returned a punt into Clemson territory.
Showing a bit of trickery, Tech called a play in which Middleton took a pitch and heaved a deep pass to a streaking Hamilton. The 5’7” sophomore make a spectacular diving catch at the five yard line to set Tech up with a first-and-goal. The Jackets were unable to convert the touchdown, however, and with 1:54 to play, Brad Chambers connected from 20 yards out to put Tech on top 23-20.
The Tigers were unable to make use of the late opportunity, and would go on to fall by three points to the unranked Yellow Jackets. They would eventually finish the regular season at 7-4, earning a bid to the Peach Bowl, where they would fall to the Auburn Tigers by a score of 21-17.
CLEM – 22
GT – 17
CLEM – 181
GT – 123
CLEM – 17-25-185
GT – 11-22-177
CLEM – 1
GT – 1
CLEM – 1-1
GT – 0-0
CLEM – 3-18
GT – 5-51
USA Today Recap: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/scores97/97270/97270413.htm