By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Georgia Tech turns attention to title game with Wake Forest
Placeholder Image
    ATLANTA — There was no need to talk about quickly moving past a game to focus on the game ahead.
    Not this week.
    Not even from Chan Gailey, who speaks often of enforcing his ‘‘24-hour rule’’ as he tries to keep his Georgia Tech players from spending more than a day celebrating a win or moaning about a loss.
    Saturday’s 15-12 loss to Georgia won’t be so quickly forgotten, not even with the enticing lure of next Saturday’s visit to Jacksonville for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against Wake Forest.
    Georgia Tech (9-3) fell seven spots to No. 23 in Sunday’s Associated Press Top 25. More painful was the team’s fall to Georgia for the sixth straight year.
    Even with the ACC championship and the added prize of an Orange Bowl berth on the line, how will the Yellow Jackets move past the loss to Georgia when the Tech players so strongly believed this would be their year?
    ‘‘It will be hard,’’ Gailey said. ‘‘Just like I told our football team. We have faced it this year and in years past. It hurts. We regroup and come back next week. Most times when they have faced something like this, they have got themselves squared away and come back ready to play.’’
    The matchup against Wake Forest is intriguing in part because it was one no one predicted before the season. The game also is interesting because the teams haven’t met since 2004, when Tech won 30-17 in Atlanta.
    ‘‘Two teams happened to play really well this year,’’ Gailey said Sunday of the matchup with Wake Forest. ‘‘They do have a ton of momentum. They played some big ballgames and played well, so they do have a bunch of momentum going into this one. They’re a very good football team.’’
    Added Gailey: ‘‘The good thing about preseason polls is that they mean nothing. It’s who is playing well when they need to.’’
    Quarterback Reggie Ball didn’t play so well when Tech needed him against Georgia. He completed only 6 of 22 passes for 42 yards with two interceptions and a lost fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
    Gailey has stuck with Ball through four seasons, and he said Sunday he’s staying with the senior for the ACC championship game. Gailey said he won’t consider changing quarterbacks.
    ‘‘That won’t happen,’’ he said. ‘‘He’s taken us this far. He’s the guy who has gotten us to nine wins this year, gotten us to the championship game and he’s a senior. You’re going to give him the opportunity to be successful.’’
    Gailey hoped Ball would enjoy success in his final opportunity to beat Georgia. Instead, Ball struggled through one of his most frustrating games as Tech was held to 188 total yards.
    It marked the first time in the rivalry that an unranked Georgia team beat a ranked Tech team.
    Despite the poor showing, Gailey insisted his team improved through a season that began with a 14-10 home loss to Notre Dame.
    ‘‘Overall for this season we have gotten better at every phase of our game,’’ Gailey said. ‘‘Our kicking game has become a better overall kicking game, our defense is a very strong defense. We kind of stay pretty steady on defense.
    ‘‘Our offense has been a little bit up and down, but for the most part up. We’ve got to continue to work on consistency there, and making the plays at the right time and in the clutch times so we can win ballgames. Overall we have become a better football team.’’
    Gailey said he did not think any players suffered a significant injury in the loss to Georgia — at least not a physical injury.
    ‘‘Our team is disappointed about a loss yesterday, but that’s one of the things that good teams do is put those things behind you and get on to the next game,’’ Gailey said. ‘‘This is a big ballgame for the championship and I think our guys are excited about that opportunity.’’
    Tailback Tashard Choice, who was the only offensive standout with his 146 yards rushing and a touchdown, said the loss to Georgia will add motivation for the ACC championship game.
    ‘‘Next week is going to be a huge game,’’ Choice said. ‘‘I hate to lose. I’m a sore loser.
    ‘‘We still control our destiny to play in the Orange Bowl.’’