'Canes tame Joe
Miami holds Jackets held to lowest output of year
Posted: Saturday January 01, 2000 09:03 PM
High Five: Miami's Andre King and Santana Moss celebrate after King's second quarter touchdown Saturday. AP
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Linebacker Nate Webster and the rest of No. 23 Miami's overlooked defense was fed up with hype over Joe Hamilton and high-scoring Georgia Tech. On Saturday, they did something about it.
The Hurricanes unleashed their frustrations with a defensive performance that would have made past Miami championship teams proud, holding No. 17 Georgia Tech to its lowest output of the year for a 28-13 victory in the Gator Bowl.
"At all the functions this week, we kept hearing how Joe Hamilton was going to do this, Joe Hamilton was going to do that, Georgia Tech was going to score 40 points," Webster said. "The whole time, it was building up inside of us."
Webster had 14 tackles and became the first defensive player since 1989 to be selected MVP of the Gator Bowl.
Defensive tackle Matt Sweeney also got into the act, catching a deflection of Hamilton's pass on the Yellow Jackets' first possession for an interception that set the tone for the game.
"No credit was given to our defense," Sweeney said. "That put a spur under our saddle."
The Hurricanes (9-4) showed they can play offense, too.
Freshman tailback Clint Portis scored on a 73-yard run and finished with 117 yards on 12 carries. James Jackson added 107 yards rushing, and Miami got a touchdown pass each from Kenny Kelly and Ken Dorsey.
"They came out and made plays when it really mattered," said Hamilton, who had promised one last trick up his sleeve in his last game but instead went out a loser. "I wish I could give an explanation, but I can't. It's hard to find anything positive to come out of this game."
The Yellow Jackets (8-4) had a season-low 421 yards, and 13 points were their fewest since a 34-7 loss to Florida State last year. Hamilton was 20-of-40 for 245 yards and two interceptions, and failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 14 games.
"He was getting harassed all day and was never able to get his feet set," Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary said. "I credit Miami for doing a good job in their rush scheme and also their coverage scheme."
It turns out Miami coach Butch Davis was bluffing. On Friday, Davis said he feared a quadruple-overtime game with an NBA-type score. But what film he saw of Georgia Tech made him think otherwise, and he was proved correct.
"I really, truly believed that we would stuff them," Davis said. "The one equalizer against Georgia Tech was team speed, and I don't know that they've seen our speed."
The Yellow Jackets had their chances. Seven times they drove inside the Miami 30, but Hamilton threw two interceptions and Luke Manget missed two field goals. The result was Georgia Tech's first loss in a bowl since the 1978 Peach Bowl, a span of seven games.
Leading 21-7 at halftime, the Hurricanes three times came up with a big play to stall Georgia Tech drives and make the Yellow Jackets settle for two field goals.
"Miami has great team speed. They were more focused and hungrier for this game," Georgia Tech tailback Sean Murphy said.
Miami finally got some breathing room when Reggie Wayne made a leaping catch across his body of a 17-yard touchdown pass from Dorsey for a 28-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
The game was played before 43,416, the smallest Gator Bowl crowd since 1958. They all came to see a shootout that never materialized, although that sure looked to be the case when the game started.
Miami met little resistance on a 66-yard opening drive that ended with Jackson going virtually untouched off left tackle for an 8-yard score.
Georgia Tech roared back, moving toward scoring position in just four plays until Sweeney stepped in. On second-and-6 from the 31, he rushed hard at Hamilton, swatted down his pass and picked it out of the air.
Kelly threaded a sideline pass into Moss for 30 yards, and hit Andre King for a 15-yard score on the first play of the second half.
Tech's only touchdown came when Hamilton finally discovered Dez White, with whom he shared Gator Bowl MVP honors last year. They connected three times on a 77-yard drive, and Hamilton scored on a 17-yard scramble. Two plays later, Portis bounced off two tackles and raced down the left sideline for a 73-yard touchdown, the longest for Miami in a bowl game. After that, Tech got no closer than eight points.
So effective was Miami's defense that Georgia Tech's Dan Dyke, who punted only 30 times all year, had a season-high six. One of them was blocked.
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