Thu, Dec 23, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Yellow Jackets put the big squeeze on Orange at Champs

AP , ORLANDO, FLORIDA

Reggie Ball threw two touchdown passes, ran for another score and led Georgia Tech to a 51-14 victory over Syracuse in the Champs Sports Bowl on Tuesday night.

Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey has been critical of his sophomore quarterback all season, and he reiterated this week that Ball will have to win back the starting job next spring.

Ball certainly stated his case against the Orange, finishing 12-of-19 for 207 yards with an interception, and had 38 yards rushing.

He also got plenty of help.

P.J. Daniels ran 17 times for 119 yards and two scores, Calvin Johnson set a school record for touchdowns by a freshman with his seventh, and the defense set the tone by returning an interception for a touchdown on the second play of the game. The unit added a safety with 1:42 to play.

Even special teams played a role, blocking a punt in the first quarter that the Yellow Jackets (7-5) converted into a touchdown.

The loss was the worst in a bowl game for Syracuse (6-6) since the 1953 Orange Bowl, a 61-6 drubbing by Alabama. It also means more questions about the future of embattled coach Paul Pasqualoni.

Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor gave Pasqualoni a vote of confidence earlier this month, saying he would be retained for a 15th season. But the school also named longtime Southern California administrator Daryl Gross the new athletic director last week. Gross replaces Jake Crouthamel, one of Pasqualoni's biggest supporters.

Gross dispelled rumors that he was already thinking about a replacement. However, he also said he would evaluate the athletic department after he completes his move in late January.

Syracuse was making its first postseason appearance since beating Kansas State in the Insight Bowl to finish the 2001 season with a 10-3 record and No. 14 ranking. That improved Pasqualoni's career bowl record to 6-2.

Since then, the Orange have struggled to break even. They had to win three of their last four regular-season games to become bowl eligible this year. Georgia Tech's dominance Tuesday certainly won't help Pasqualoni.

Chris Reis intercepted Perry Patterson's first pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. Syracuse looked to even the game when Patterson scored from 21 yards out, but Collin Barber pushed the extra point attempt wide right.

Georgia Tech then scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions to pretty much put the game away before halftime, including an 80-yard TD pass from Ball to Nate Curry.

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