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Johnson, Georgia Tech bounce back, beat Miami

Oct 28, 2006 - 11:10 PM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Calvin Johnson and Georgia Tech are finally catching on.

Johnson caught the go-ahead touchdown pass with 6:18 remaining and No. 21 Georgia Tech held on for a 30-23 victory over Miami and control of the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division.

Tashard Choice rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries for the Yellow Jackets (6-2, 4-1 ACC Coastal), who erased an early 10-point deficit and can determine their own destiny in a bid for their first appearance in the ACC title game.

"We control our own destiny, which is all you can ask for going into the ninth game of the year," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "That's what you're trying to do."

Georgia Tech has league games remaining at North Carolina State and North Carolina and vs. Duke - all contests in which it should be favored. By winning those three games, the Yellow Jackets would clinch a berth in the conference title game, with the winner receiving a BCS bowl berth.

"We're trying to get to the ACC championship," Johnson said. "We have to play like an ACC championship team and we did (today)."

The "Ramblin' Wreck" was in a similar position last week but ceded control with a 31-7 loss to Clemson in which Johnson - the best wide receiver in the country - was held without a catch.

"The best thing to do about last week is to just forget about it," Johnson said. "We have other games to play and it's not going to happen again. We just forgot about it."

"There was a lot of pressure going into this game," defensive end Adamm Oliver said. "Are we going to come out and play well after the loss last week? How are we going to respond? How are we going to respond in the ACC? Are we going to respond well and make it to the championship game this year?"

Some added motivation may have come Thursday, when Clemson suffered a 24-7 loss at Virginia Tech on Thursday, putting Georgia Tech back in the driver's seat. Johnson kept the Yellow Jackets there by making five catches for 68 yards, including the biggest one of the game.

Banged-up quarterback Reggie Ball directed a 74-yard drive that included runs of 18 and nine yards by Choice and Ball's 21-yard screen pass to fullback Mike Cox.

On 2nd-and-goal from the 1, Ball faked a handoff and threw a slant pass to Johnson, who made the TD catch despite interference by cornerback Randy Phillips.

"They were playing outside, so we figured we'd get inside the way we did," said Johnson, who has 22 career TD catches, two shy of Kelly Campbell's school record. "He was all up under my jersey and whatnot, up under my shoulder pads."

On Miami's next possession, Kyle Wright was sacked by Oliver and fumbled, with linebacker KaMichael Hall making the recovery at the Hurricanes 35. Two plays later, Choice scampered 24 yards up the middle for the clinching score with 3:49 to go.

Miami (5-3, 2-2 Coastal) immediately responded as Wright threw a 41-yard TD pass to tight end Greg Olsen, who caught five passes for 91 yards. But the Hurricanes never got back the ball, fumbling a punt in the final minute.

It was a disappointing loss for Miami, which despite its struggles on and off the field this season could have taken control of the division with a win. Instead, the Hurricanes lost to the Yellow Jackets for the second time in as many ACC meetings and do not have a realistic chance for a BCS bowl berth.

"Obviously, we're very disappointed," said Miami coach Larry Coker, whose job remains in jeopardy. "I told our players that they played hard and gave great effort. We didn't play as well as we needed to a couple of times during the game."

Nursing a sore right ankle, Ball hurt his left ankle on the game's first play, limiting his ability to run. He completed just 11-of-27 passes for 188 yards and two TDs but made big plays when they were needed.

"I never thought about coming out," Ball said. "I'm in a lot of pain, but I was just fortunate enough that it passed on. I just kept pushing. It's just bruises."

Wright was 20-of-31 for 246 yards, one TD and one interception. Freshman Javarris James added 113 yards on 19 carries for Miami.

The Hurricanes dominated the third quarter, running 22 of the first 25 plays and taking a 16-13 lead on Jon Peattie's 26-yard kick. Johnson's 10-yard catch helped set up Travis Bell's tying 39-yard kick in the first minute of the final period.

"They weren't letting him get down the field, so we had to get it to him quick," Gailey said. "That was the adjustment we made at halftime."

A sack by Miami defensive end Calais Campbell forced a fumble by Ball that linebacker Glenn Cook returned 19 yards for a touchdown on the game's first play.

Peattie added field goals of 38 and 36 yards around a 39-yard kick by Bell that was positioned by a 43-yard catch-and-run by Johnson.

"He made some plays, but I don't think Calvin was the difference in the game," Coker said. "We did a decent job on him."

With 8:07 left in the second quarter, Ball rolled out left, planted and fired a 46-yard bomb into the end zone to James Johnson that cut the deficit to 13-10. Bell added a tying field goal in the final minute.

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