ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Maybe Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey will
ease up on Reggie Ball now.
Ball threw two touchdown passes, ran for another score and led
the Yellow Jackets to a 51-14 victory over Syracuse in the Champs
Sports Bowl on Tuesday night.
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
"I just let loose," Ball said. "I wasn't worried about
proving anything. I know what I can do. I know what kind of leader
Ball 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
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
Chris Reis intercepted Perry Patterson's first pass and returned
it 20 yards for a touchdown.
"From the first pass of the game, things seemed to go against
us," Pasqualoni said. "It was just one of those days where
nothing we did went well."
Syracuse looked to even the game when Patterson scored from 21
yards out, but Collin Barber pushed the extra point attempt wide
Georgia Tech then scored touchdowns on three consecutive
possessions to pretty much put the game away before halftime.
"We punched them in the mouth, but they punched right back,"
Syracuse safety Diamond Ferri said. "They deserved to win."
Ball found Johnson for a 10-yard score to make it 14-6. After
getting the ball back, Ball rolled right and found Nate Curry down
the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown -- the longest play of the
season for the Yellow Jackets and the longest pass of Ball's
"He went out and performed extremely well, especially early in
the ball game," Gailey said. "He's had a lot of criticism this
year and suffered through a lot of adversity. I'm happy for him."
Syracuse went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and
Xavier McGuire blocked the punt to give his team the ball at the
Ball completed a third-down pass to the 2, and Daniels took it
in from there.
Johnson burned cornerback Tanard Jackson and made a spectacular
51-yard catch over Ferri. He scored six plays later on an end
around from the 5-yard line. The Yellow Jackets led 35-6 at
halftime, and Ball's 11-yard TD scamper made it 42-6 with 3:48 to
play in third quarter.
He was done for the night.
So was Syracuse running back Walter Reyes. He sat out the second
half after re-injuring his right shoulder.
Reyes, the second-leading rusher in school history, was hurt
following an 18-yard reception early in the second quarter. He was
forced out of bounds and landed awkwardly after vaulting an
aluminum bench on the Georgia Tech sideline.
Besides his catch, Reyes also had 3 yards on five carries.
Reyes missed the previous two games after tearing three muscles
behind his right shoulder on a vicious hit in Syracuse's
double-overtime win over Pittsburgh on Nov. 6.