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November 27, 2005
ATLANTA -- When it came down to it, D.J. Shockley made a big play for Georgia. Reggie Ball could not do likewise for Georgia Tech. Shockley threw a huge fourth-quarter touchdown pass while Ball tossed a backbreaking interception as the 13th-ranked Bulldogs posted a 14-7 victory over the 20th-ranked Yellow Jackets.
In the face of a Yellow Jacket blitz, Shockley lofted a perfect pass to Bryan McClendon - who was blanketed by Dennis Davis - from 19 yards out to give Georgia (9-2) the lead and snap a 7-7 tie with 3:18 to play.
The go-ahead drive was set up by a 32-yard punt return by Thomas Flowers to the Georgia Tech 39.
"It was just a great field-position game, a great defensive battle," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "We had to stay patient, as much as we hated it, and let our special teams do their job, and then knock it in when we needed to. It was a great team effort, and I'm just thankful for the victory."
On its ensuing possession, Georgia Tech (7-4) wasted no time moving downfield as Ball threw a 16-yard pass over the middle to George Cooper and ripped off a 30-yard run.
A pass-interference penalty gave Georgia Tech first down at the 11, but on the next play, Ball threw away any chance the Yellow Jackets had of breaking their four-game losing skid to the Bulldogs.
"You can't make the mistakes that we made and expect to beat a good football team in a big rival game," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "You can't do that. Things that we have not done all year happened in this ballgame, and it catches up to you when you do those things."
Locking in on wide receiver Damarius Bilbo all the way, Ball threw the ball to the receiver on a stop route that Tim Jennings jumped for a game-saving interception with 1:11 to play.
"Their guy really made a great play. He guessed right," Gailey said. "He guessed on the short route, and if we'd had the fade on, he would have been in trouble. But he was playing off, and we were trying to run the short hook in front of him. He guessed right and jumped on it, you have to give him credit."
Georgia Tech got the ball back but a desperation heave by Ball as time expired fell harmlessly incomplete near the Georgia 30.
Shockley completed 15-of-34 passes for 198 yards and was intercepted once. Ball was 18-of-35 for 155 yards and two interceptions.
Both teams scored in the first quarter before the defenses dictated play for the rest of the game. Georgia Tech went 78 yards on its opening drive, culminating in a beautiful two-yard TD pass from Ball to a diving Calvin Johnson in the corner of the end zone.
Georgia was limited to a season-low 266 yards, the sixth team that the Yellow Jackets have held below 300 yards this campaign. In the last two games, Georgia Tech has allowed just 503 yards combined.
Georgia, which will return to Atlanta next Saturday to play Louisiana State in the Southeastern Conference title game, tied the contest later in the quarter on a one-yard run by Brannan Southerland.
The Bulldogs possibly could play their final three games in Atlanta, as they could also have a date in the Sugar Bowl should they defeat the Tigers.