Travis LaTendresse felt alone at times during the Emerald Bowl, catching pass after pass without a Georgia Tech defender anywhere near him...
SAN FRANCISCO — Travis LaTendresse felt alone at times during the Emerald Bowl, catching pass after pass without a Georgia Tech defender anywhere near him.
The sixth-year Utah senior wasn’t lonely afterward. He got a ride on his fans’ shoulders after another blowout bowl victory for the Utes and their effective offense.
LaTendresse caught 16 passes for 214 yards and four touchdowns, Brett Ratliff passed for 381 yards and Utah rolled up 550 total yards in a 38-10 victory over No. 24 Georgia Tech on Thursday.
Quinton Ganther ran for 120 yards and added a 41-yard touchdown romp in the fourth quarter for the Utes (7-5), who finished the follow-up season to their 12-0 run through the Bowl Championship Series last season with an offensive performance more than worthy of former coach Urban Meyer’s team.
Though the prize was smaller and the stars have changed, the result was similar to last season’s Fiesta Bowl win over Pittsburgh: a comfortable victory and countless style points for the exciting Utes.
“I don’t think the ACC has seen a passing attack like the ones in the Mountain West,” said LaTendresse, a Northern California native with about 100 friends and relatives in the stands. “We came out with a chip on our shoulders. That was an ACC team which said they didn’t belong here. We took it personally that they don’t respect us.”
Georgia Tech was favored by 8-½ points.
Reggie Ball passed for 258 yards for the Yellow Jackets (7-5), who were disappointed to be so far from Atlanta for the postseason — and it showed.
Georgia Tech’s vaunted defense, ranked among the nation’s leaders entering the game, was shredded and stomped by a backup quarterback and his speedy receivers for its season high in yards allowed.
“They quit on themselves,” said LaTendresse, the game’s offensive most valuable player. “Slowly but surely, they gave up. That first quarter, they had a lot of fight, and they were talking. But slowly their talk diminished, and their heads went down. That’s what you have to do: make them quit.”
LaTendresse, who missed three late-season games with an ankle injury, seemed to be open all day as the Utes ruined the Yellow Jackets’ ninth straight bowl appearance. His TD catches of 14, 23, 25 and 16 yards came on rather basic patterns down the middle.
Ratliff was 30 for 41.
“They didn’t do anything fancy or unusual that we haven’t worked on, but when you play them, you have to get ready for a ton of stuff,” Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. “When you haven’t spent a ton of time on something, sometimes they get you, and they got us good.”
First-year coach Kyle Whittingham guided Utah to its fifth straight postseason victory.
• Florida State’s leading tackler was suspended by the team and questioned by police in Hollywood, Fla., after a 19-year-old woman accused him of sexually assaulting her.
A decision regarding whether to charge senior linebacker A.J. Nicholson will be made after the completion of an investigation expected to extend into next week, police said.
Nicholson, 22, was released by detectives and sent home by the Seminoles, who arrived Wednesday to play Penn State in the Orange Bowl on Tuesday. Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said Nicholson was suspended for violating a team rule.
• Penn State receiver Derrick Williams is considered doubtful for the Orange Bowl because of an arm injury that sidelined the freshman for two months.
Coach Joe Paterno indicated Williams, who has been out with a broken left arm, will sit out the game.
“Derrick Williams is worth a touchdown, but I doubt, really, if he’ll play,” Paterno said.
• Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, whose team lost 32-28 to Nebraska in Wednesday’s Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, was still seething a day later about the Sun Belt Conference officiating crew that worked the game.
“It was ludicrous,” Carr said.
Carr’s discomfort stemmed from a number of plays, including the last one, when Michigan lateraled several times and ended up at the Nebraska 13. Extra Cornhuskers players and some photographers were on the field when the ball was still alive, but Nebraska wasn’t penalized.
• John Druze, the last surviving member and captain of Fordham’s famed “Seven Blocks of Granite,” died Tuesday in Scottsdale, Ariz., of natural causes. He was 91.