2002 Season

2002-12-31 – Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State – Silicon Valley Classic

Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State - Silicon Valley Classic - 2002

Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State – Silicon Valley Classic – December 31, 2002

Georgia Tech: 21
Fresno State: 30

Despite falling to rival Georgia to end the regular season at 7-4, Georgia Tech earned a bowl berth for the sixth straight season with an invitation to the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, California to face the Fresno State Bulldogs. Playing in its third consecutive Silicon Valley Classic, Fresno entered the contest having lost its previous four bowl games. Their last post-season victory came in 1992 when they defeated the USC Trojans 24-7 in the Freedom Bowl to finish the season at 9-4, overall. The meeting between the Yellow Jackets and the Bulldogs would be the first-ever on the gridiron between the two schools.

After forcing a punt on the opening possession, the Jackets put the ball right back in the hands of the Bulldog offense when A.J. Suggs threw a pick to Jason Stewart near the Fresno 40 yard line. The Bulldogs picked up a pair of first downs while pushing within the Yellow Jacket red zone, but eventually stalled at the 4 yard line. Asen Asparuhov then came on to connect on a 22 yard field goal to put Fresno on top 3-0 in the early going.

A quick punt by the Jackets put the ball back in the hands of the Bulldog offense until Keyaron Fox recovered a Paul Pinegar fumble on 4th and 16 from the Bulldog 37 yard line.

A.J. Suggs opened the ensuing drive with a 35 yard touchdown pass to Kerry Watkins to snag the lead for the Jackets at 7-3 with 2:51 left in the opening period.

After forcing a punt, Tech again pushed into Bulldog territory, but failed to capitalize when Ajenavi Eziemefe lost a fumble to Del Hawkins at the Fresno State 28 yard line.

The Bulldogs did not immediately take advantage of the turnover, but did add a 42 yard Asparuhov field goal at the 5:35 mark of the second period to get within one at 7-6.

The Jackets appeared as if they might hold the lead at intermission after Asparuhov missed from 33 on the next Bulldog possession with less than a minute to play in the half. Chan Gailey elected to go for a score, however, and Suggs threw an interception to Dee Meza that was returned 48 yards for a Bulldog touchdown with just 13 seconds left in the first half. The score would give Fresno a 13-7 lead as the squads hit the locker rooms for halftime.

Tech regained the lead in the third quarter with Demarius Bilbo leading the offense. Bilbo found LeKeldrick Bridges for 38 yards on first down before sneaking into the end zone three plays later for the tying touchdown. Luke Manget’s extra point then gave the Jackets a narrow 14-13 advantage.

The lead did not last long though, as Rodney Davis answered with a 3 yard touchdown run just six plays later to make it 20-14 in favor of the Bulldogs. The score was setup by a 68 yard pass from Pinegar to Deandre Gilbert on 3rd-and-14.

Bilbo returned to lead the Tech offense down to the Bulldog 9 yard line, but made a costly mistake when he threw an interception to Bryce McGill at the goal line to squander the scoring opportunity.

But Fresno quickly punted back and Bilbo redeemed himself. The seldom used quarterback went deep on first down and found Jonathan Smith for a 42 yard touchdown to make it 21-20 with under a minute to play in the third quarter.

Fresno punted to start the fourth, but Bilbo threw a costly interception on second down that gave the Bulldogs the ball at the Georgia Tech 34 yard line. Tech caught a break shortly thereafter though, as James Butler recovered a Jermaine Jamison fumble at the Yellow Jacket 25.

But Tech again failed to capitalize, and the Bulldogs would finally snag the lead for good when Asparuhov hit a 33 yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to cap off an eleven play drive that consumed more than seven minutes off the clock.

Trailing 21-23, the Jackets had just 3:38 to answer for the win. But facing a 4th-and-1 from its own 29, the Tech offense failed to earn a first down, and the Bulldogs would regain possession with 2:30 left to play.

Davis put the finishing touches on the game with a 29 yard touchdown run one play later, and the Bulldogs would upset the Yellow Jackets 30-21 to earn their first bowl victory in ten years and finish the season at 9-5, overall.


First downs:
GT – 16
FS – 20

Rushing yards:
GT – 130
FS – 186

Passing (Comp-Att-Yds):
GT – 9-27-218
FS – 16-31-188

Interceptions thrown:
GT – 6
FS – 0

Fumbles (Total-Lost):
GT – 2-1
FS – 3-2

Penalties (Total-Yds):
GT – 5-53
FS – 10-94

Game Summary: http://www.ramblinwreck.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/123102aab.html
ESPN Game Summary: http://espn.go.com/ncf/recap?id=223650278

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