- 2006 ACC Championship Game
Name=2006 ACC Championship Game
Date=December 2, 2006
Visitor Name Short=Georgia Tech
Visitor Nickname=Yellow Jackets
Home Name Short=Wake Forest
Home Nickname=Demon Deacons
Odds=Georgia Tech by 1
Dr Pepper"Million Dollar Throw"
Brad Nessler, Bob Griese, Paul Maguire,
The 2006 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship Game featured the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a regular-season
American footballgame to determine the champion of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Wake Forest defeated Georgia Tech by a 9–6 score to win its first ACC football championship since 1970 and its second in school history. The game was held at Jacksonville Municipal Stadiumin Jacksonville, Floridaand was the concluding game of the regular season for each team.
Neither team was highly regarded at the beginning of the 2006 season, but each team outperformed expectations to earn the right to play in the conference championship game, which was the second in the conference's history. Wake Forest, the Atlantic Division representative, earned a 10–2 record behind
redshirt freshman quarterback Riley Skinner, who won the ACC's rookie of the yearaward. Wake defeated tough ACC opponents Florida State and 16th-ranked Boston College to win the Atlantic Division. Georgia Tech, led by senior All-America wide receiverCalvin Johnson, defeated 11th-ranked Virginia Tech and North Carolina en route to winning the Coastal Division and a spot in the championship game.
Low attendance and poor weather marred the contest, which kicked off amid rain and fog. Defense dominated from the beginning, as Georgia Tech took a 3–0 lead in the first quarter. Wake Forest evened the score before halftime, however, and the two teams headed into the second half tied at 3–3. After a scoreless third quarter, Georgia Tech took a 6–3 lead early in the fourth quarter. After Tech
quarterback Reggie Ballthrew a critical interception, Wake Forest was able to tie the game, then take a 9–6 lead. With time running out, Wake's defense denied Georgia Tech a game-winning score, and Wake Forest clinched the win.
All the scoring in the game came via five
field goals, and Wake Forest's kicker, Sam Swank, was named the game's most valuable player. By virtue of its victory, Wake Forest earned its first ACC football championship since 1970 and was awarded a bid to the 2007 Orange Bowl. Georgia Tech's loss and second-place ACC finish earned it a position in the 2006 Gator Bowl. Following the conclusion of each team's bowl game, numerous players from both teams were selected in the 2007 NFL Draft.
ACC Championship Gamematches the winner of the Coastal and Atlantic Divisions of the Atlantic Coast Conference. A conference championship game was added in 2005, as a result of the league's expansion the previous year, adding former Big East members Miami, [ [http://media.www.dailytarheel.com/media/storage/paper885/news/2003/06/26/Sports/Acc-Invites.Miami.Va.Tech-1354314.shtml ACC invites Miami, Va. Tech] Tim Candon, "The Daily Tar Heel", June 26, 2003. Accessed December 6, 2007.] Virginia Tech, [ [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/2003-06-27-acc-expansion_x.htm Virginia Tech sealing move to ACC] Staff and Wire Reports, "USA Today", June 23, 2003. Accessed December 8, 2007.] and Boston College. [ [http://media.www.dailycollegian.com/media/storage/paper874/news/2003/10/24/Sports/Eagles.Move.Just.Another.BcsWindle-1554332.shtml?sourcedomain=www.dailycollegian.com&MIIHost=media.collegepublisher.com Eagles' move just another BCS-windle] Brendan Hall, The "Massachusetts Daily Collegian", October 24, 2003. Accessed December 6, 2007.] With the addition of Boston College, the ACC consisted of 12 teams, allowing it to hold a conference championship game under NCAA rules. [ [http://www.centralohio.com/ohiostate/stories/20030708/football/611709.html ACC expansion doesn't concern members of SEC] Tim Vacek, Gannett News Service, July 8, 2003. Accessed December 6, 2007.]
Florida State defeated Virginia Tech, 27–22 in the first ACC Championship game. [ [http://www.theacc.com/sports/m-footbl/05-m-footbl-championship.html Inaugural Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game] The Atlantic Coast Conference. Accessed December 6, 2007.] Following the 2005 game, the ACC requested that ABC schedule the 2006 contest for the afternoon in order to maximize television ratings. [http://www.newsobserver.com/sports/barnett/2006/story/520894.html ACC title game remains a work in progress] Ned Barnett, "Charlotte News-Observer", December 13, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2008.] Heading into the 2006 college football season, Florida State and Miami were picked in the annual ACC pre-season media poll as favorites to appear in the 2006 ACC Championship Game. Georgia Tech received the third-most votes on the Coastal Division side of the poll, while Wake Forest was picked to finish last in the Atlantic Division. [http://www.theacc.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/072406aac.html Florida State and Miami favored in 2006 ACC Football Preseason Poll] The Atlantic Coast Conference, theACC.com. July 24, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.]
Georgia Tech's 2006 season began with a tough game against No. 2 Notre Dame. Though the Yellow Jackets lost 14-10, they took an early 10-0 lead over heavily-favored Notre Dame until the Fighting Irish scored 14 unanswered points to win the game. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=262450059 No. 2 Notre Dame edges Ga. Tech in defensive struggle] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. September 2, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.] Tech bounced back from the narrow loss by winning five straight games, including a 38-27 victory in Blacksburg,
Virginiaagainst the No. 11 Virginia Tech Hokies, who would later go on to finish second in the division. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=262730259 Jackets put up 38 points, upend No. 11 Hokies in Blacksburg] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. September 30, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.]
Heading into the seventh game of the season, Georgia Tech was 5-1 and had an undefeated 3-0 record in conference play. At No. 12 Clemson, however, Tech suffered its first conference loss and largest loss of the season, losing 31-7. Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson failed to record a reception for the first time in his career during the loss. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=262940228 Clemson clocks Georgia Tech behind career day from Davis] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. October 21, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.] Tech followed the loss by winning its next four games. Following the third win, a 7-0
shutoutof North Carolina, Tech clinched the Coastal Division championship and a bid to the ACC Championship Game. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=263150153 Jackets shut out Heels to clinch spot in ACC title game] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. November 11, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.]
After clinching a spot in the championship game, Tech defeated ACC opponent Duke, then prepared for a game against traditional rival Georgia before heading to Jacksonville for the ACC championship. In the game against Georgia, the No. 16 Yellow Jackets were upset by the unranked Bulldogs, who intercepted Tech quarterback Reggie Ball twice and held him to just 42 passing yards in the game. Georgia's victory marked the sixth consecutive victory in the rivalry and sent Tech into the ACC Championship Game on a down note. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=263290061 Freshman Stafford solid for Georgia in win over rival Tech] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. November 25, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.]
Wake Forest began the 2006 season on September 2 with a home game against Big East conference opponent Syracuse. Wake defeated Syracuse 20–10, [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=262450154 Costly win: Wake doubles up 'Cuse, but loses QB Mauk] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. September 2, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.] but starting quarterback Benjamin Mauk suffered a season-ending injury when he fractured his arm, dislocated his shoulder, and suffered a torn
labrum.cite news|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=ncf&id=3110809 |title=Cincinnati QB Mauk starting to feel good with metal-filled arm |author= Associated Press|publisher="ESPN.com" |date= 2007-11-14|accessdate=2007-12-12] Backup quarterback Riley Skinnerreplaced Mauk in the game, and would serve as Wake's starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.
The Deacons struggled in their second game, beating ACC rival Duke 14-13 by blocking a Duke field goal on the final play of the game. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=262520154 Blocked FG on final play dooms Duke in loss to Wake] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. September 9, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.] Following the close call against Duke, however, Wake Forest went on to win its next three games. A 34-14 win over Football Championship Subdivision
Liberty Universitygave Wake its first 5-0 start since 1987. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=262730154 Wake whips Liberty, 5-0 for first time since '87] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. September 30, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.]
In its sixth game of the season, Wake Forest suffered its first loss. Against the No. 15 Clemson Tigers, Wake gave up 24 points in the fourth quarter to give Clemson a 27-17 victory. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=262800154 Down 14 in the fourth, Clemson rallies past Wake] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. October 7, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.] The Demon Deacons recovered quickly from the loss and proceeded to begin another winning streak, this time against ACC opponents. Over the next four weeks, Wake defeated North Carolina State, North Carolina, No. 16 Boston College, and Florida State. The 30-0 win over Florida State marked several milestones for the Deacons. The win marked the first time in school history that the Deacons had earned nine wins in a single season. In addition, Wake Forest recorded its first win against Florida State in Tallahassee since 1959 and became the first team to shut out a
Bobby Bowden-coached Florida State team in Doak Campbell Stadium. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=263150052 Wake gets historic 9th win, shuts out Noles in Tallahassee] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. November 11, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.]
In its next game, however, the Demon Deacons fell at home to the No. 19 Virginia Tech Hokies, 27-6. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=263220154 No. 19 Virginia Tech knocks down No. 14 Wake Forest] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. November 18, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.] The Hokies would later go on to finish second in the Coastal Division and earn a bid to the
2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl. Wake Forest recovered from its second loss of the season to earn a 38-24 victory against Maryland—its first since 1998—clinching the Atlantic Division championship and earning a bid to the ACC Championship Game. Wake became the first team in ACC history to go 6-0 in ACC road games, and extended the school record for wins in a season to 10. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=263290120 Deacons tops Terps to cap best regular season in Wake history] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. November 25, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.]
In the weeks leading up to the game, the point most emphasized in media coverage of the game was the fact that Wake Forest had not won an ACC championship in football since 1970. The
point spreadfor the game was relatively constant, with spread bettors favoring Georgia Tech by a single point. [ [http://www.thespread.com/ncaa-football-top-stories-300/college-football-16-wake-forest-at-23-georgia.html Demon Deacons and Yellow Jackets Battle for The ACC Title Today] Anthony White, thespread.com. December 2, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2008.]
wide receiverCalvin Johnson, who was voted the preseason ACC Player of the Year, was expected to do well in the ACC Championship Game. Johnson recorded 59 receptions for 889 yards and 13 touchdowns heading into the championship game. On November 29, Johnson was named the ACC Player of the Year (POY), fulfilling the expectations set when he earned preseason player of the year honors. [ [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/112906aad.html Johnson Named ACC Player of the Year] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com, November 29, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.] On the day after Johnson earned ACC POY honors, he was named to the Rivals.com All-Americateam, an annual selection of the best players at each position in the United States. Johnson was the first Tech player in over a decade to be selected as an All-American in two consecutive seasons. [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/113006aad.html Johnson, Wheeler Earn All-America Honors] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com, November 30, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.]
quarterback Reggie Ballwas not nearly as acclaimed. Despite leading the ACC with 20 touchdown passes and being named an All-ACC honorable mention, [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/112706aaa.html Ten Yellow Jackets Earn All-ACC Honors] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com, November 27, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.] there were doubts about Ball's effectiveness. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview?gameId=263360059 Georgia Tech QB has a lot to prove in ACC title game] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. Accessed April 1, 2008.] Since starting at quarterback in his freshmanyear, Ball went 0-4 against Tech rival Georgia, [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/recaps/112506aaa.html Georgia Tech Falls 15-12 to Georgia] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com, November 25, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.] and was excoriated for his inconsistency. [ [http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/category/acc/2006/12/02/15-56-0-tds-4-ints-1-fumble-returned-for-a-td/ 15-56, 0 TD's, 4 INT's, 1 Fumble Returned for a TD] Nathan Fowler, AOL Fanhouse, sports.aol.com/fanhouse/. December 2, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/bowls06/news/story?id=2704246 Georgia Tech's Ball, Scott ruled out of Gator Bowl] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. December 20, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.] [ [http://clemson.scout.com/2/581142.html The Trials and Tribulations of Reggie Ball] Brett Jensen, CUTigers.com, Scout.com. October 19, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.] After suffering a game-losing fumble against the Bulldogs, commentators questioned how well Ball would recover from the setback before the ACC Championship Game.
Supporting Ball and Johnson were a corps of capable receivers including James Johnson and Greg Smith. James Johnson was Tech's second-leading receiver behind Calvin Johnson, and recorded over 500 receiving yards heading into the ACC championship. [ [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/johnson_james00.html James Johnson] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com. Accessed April 1, 2008.] During Tech's game against Virginia Tech, James caught a 49-yard touchdown pass for the game's first points. [ [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/recaps/093006aab.html No. 24 Georgia Tech Downs No. 11 Virginia Tech, 38-27] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com. September 30, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.] Smith was Tech's fifth-leading receiver in 2006, [ [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/smith_greg00.html Greg Smith] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com. Accessed April 1, 2008.] but had several key plays (including two touchdown receptions) in Georgia Tech's game against the Duke Blue Devils. [ [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/recaps/111806aaa.html No. 18 Georgia Tech Tops Duke 49-21] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com. November 18, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.]
On the ground, the Georgia Tech rushing attack was led by
Tashard Choice. Choice was the leading rusher in the ACC, averaging over 100 yards per game. [ [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/choice_tashard00.html Tashard Choice] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com. Accessed April 1, 2008.] Against North Carolina State, Choice recorded 164 rushing yards on 34 carries, earning what was then a single-game career high in rushing yards. [ [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/recaps/110406aaa.html Ball Throws Four Touchdowns To Edge NC State] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com. November 4, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.] In the days before the ACC championship, Choice was named to the second-team All-ACC team, and was considered to be a threat on offense against Wake Forest.
Wake Forest, which had begun the season with Benjamin Mauk as its starting quarterback, ended the season with redshirt freshman
Riley Skinnerfilling the position. Despite having almost no experience starting at quarterback before the season, Skinner was named the ACC's rookie of the year. [ [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/112806aac.html Skinner Voted ACC Rookie of the Year] Wake Forest Athletics Department, wakeforestsports.cstv.com. November 28, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.] Skinner led the ACC in completion percentage, passing efficiency, and interception rate. In addition, Skinner set 10 new single-season passing records at Wake Forest during the 2006 season. [ [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/skinner_riley00.html Riley Skinner] Wake Forest Athletics Department, wakeforestsports.cstv.com. Accessed April 1, 2008.] In the days before the ACC Championship Game, Skinner was named to the second-team All-ACC team, joining eight other teammates selected to one of the two All-ACC teams. [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/112706aad.html Wake Forest Places School Record Nine On All-ACC Team] Wake Forest Athletics Department, wakeforestsports.cstv.com. November 26, 2008. Accessed April 1, 2008.]
Two of the other Deacons selected for All-ACC honors were senior tackle Steve Vallos and junior center Steve Justice, both of whom were key components of the Wake Forest
offensive line. Vallos had been considered for the Lombardi Trophyand Outland Trophyand won first-team Associated Press All-America honors after the championship game. [ [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/vallos_steve00.html Steve Vallos] Wake Forest Athletics Department, wakeforestsports.cstv.com. Accessed April 1, 2008.] Center Steve Justice started all 14 games during Wake Forest's 2006 season, and participated in 98 percent of the Deacons' offensive plays. [ [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/justice_steve00.html Steve Justice] Wake Forest Athletics Department, wakeforestsports.cstv.com. Accessed April 1, 2008.]
Wake Forest also boasted one of the nation's best punters and
placekickers, Sam Swank. Swank was one of the team's nine 2006 All-ACC selections, and performed extremely well during the season. Swank led the Deacons in points scored, and was successful on five of seven kicks from beyond 50 yards during the season. Swank was a finalist for the Ray Guy Awardand Lou Groza Award, which go to the nation's best punter and placekicker, respectively. [ [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/swank_sam00.html Sam Swank] Wake Forest Athletics Department, wakeforestsports.cstv.com. Accessed April 1, 2008.] Following the championship Game, Swank was named to the ESPNand Sports Illustratedfirst-team All-America teams. [ [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/121506aab.html Swank Named ESPN First Team All-American] Wake Forest Athletics Department, wakeforestsports.cstv.com. December 15, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.]
Heading into the game, Georgia Tech had the 11th best rushing defense in Division I-A college football. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=263360059 Skinner, Swank lift Wake to ACC title; next stop: Orange Bowl] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. December 2, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2008.] That defense was led statistically by
linebackerPhilip Wheeler, considered by many to be one of the nation's best blitzing linebackers. [ [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/wheeler_philip00.html Philip Wheeler] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com. Accessed April 1, 2008.] In the days leading up to the championship game, Wheeler was named to the Rivals.com All-America team. In addition, Wheeler was a second-team All-ACC selection and a two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Week. [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/121206aad.html Johnson, Brooks Make AP All-America Team] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com. December 12, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.]
defensive line, Georgia Tech featured defensive tackleJoe Anoa'i and defensive endAdamm Oliver. Anoa'i, a first-team All-ACC selection, headed into the ACC Championship having earned six tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss in Tech's previous game against Georgia. Anoa'i also forced and recovered a Georgia fumblethat eventually led to a Tech field goal. [ [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/anoai_joe00.html Joe Anoai] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com. Accessed April 1, 2008.] Adamm Oliver was a second-team All-ACC selection who was fourth on the team in total tackles and second on the team in tackles for loss. Oliver created the game-winning play for the Yellow Jackets against Miami when he forced a fumble that set up the game-clinching touchdown. [ [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/oliver_adamm00.html Adamm Oliver] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com. Accessed April 1, 2008.] Georgia Tech also had several important defensive backs. Safety Jamal Lewis was a first-team All-ACC selection and the team's leading tackler. [ [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/lewis_jamal00.html Jamal Lewis] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com. Accessed April 1, 2008.] During the Yellow Jackets' game against Samford University, Lewis returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown. The return was the fourth-longest in Georgia Tech history and was the longest since a 102-yard return in 1969. [ [http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/recaps/090906aac.html Georgia Tech Postgame Notes vs. Samford] Georgia Tech Athletics Department, ramblinwreck.cstv.com. September 9, 2006. Accessed April 1, 2008.]
The Wake Forest defense was led by All-America honorable mention linebacker Jon Abbate. [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/abbate_jon00.html Jon Abbate] Wake Forest Athletics Department, wakeforestsports.cstv.com. Accessed April 2, 2008.] Abbate, who was a first-team All-ACC selection, was the team's leading tackler and earned the second-most tackles in the ACC during the season. Safety Josh Gattis was another star on the Wake defense. A first-team All-ACC selection, Gattis was the only player in the ACC to earn 70 tackles and five interceptions. [ [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/gattis_josh00.html Josh Gattis] Wake Forest Athletics Department, wakeforestsports.cstv.com. Accessed April 2, 2008.] On the defensive line,
defensive endPatrick Ghee stood out. An honorable mention All-ACC selection, Ghee ranked fifth on the team in tackles and had three interceptions. [ [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/ghee_patrick00.html Patrick Ghee] Wake Forest Athletics Department, wakeforestsports.cstv.com. Accessed April 2, 2008.]
The 2006 ACC Championship Game kicked off at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville,
Floridaon December 2, 2006. The game was broadcast on ABC, and earned a 4.0 television rating. This figure was down slightly from the previous year's game, which earned a 5.1 rating. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/28/AR2007112802242.html Success Doesn't Equal Sellouts for ACC] Adam Kilgore, the "Washington Post", E03, November 29, 2007. Accessed December 17, 2007.] Brad Nessler, Bob Griese, Paul Maguire, and Bonnie Bernsteinwere selected to announce the game. [ [http://www.theacc.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/113006aac.html TV, Radio Coverage for ACC Championship Game] The Atlantic Coast Conference, theACC.com. November 30, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2008.]
At kickoff, a light breeze was blowing from the northeast at convert|5|mph|km/h, the air temperature was convert|59|°F|°C, and the weather was foggy with a light rain. [http://www.theacc.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/2006-2007/acc1202.html#GAME.SUM Scoring Summary (Final)] The Atlantic Coast Conference, theACC.com. December 2, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2008.] Rain had been falling for several hours, turning the field into a muddy mess that would hinder play throughout the game. 62,850 tickets were sold for the game, and that number was given as the official attendance. Real attendance estimates range from 40,000-50,000, due to the poor weather and the fact that the stadium was half-empty through much of the game. [ [http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/012107/col_7480265.shtml Growing pains over ACC title game] Gene Frenette, "Jacksonville Times-Union". January 21, 2007. Accessed April 24, 2008.]
During the pre-game
coin toss, a member of the Wounded Warrior Project, which rehabilitates wounded American war veterans, threw the ceremonial coin. [ [http://www.theacc.com/genrel/120106aaa.html The ACC to Honor the Wounded Warrior Project During the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship] The Atlantic Coast Conference, theACC.com. December 1, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2008.] Georgia Tech won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball to begin the game. After Georgia Tech made its selection, Wake Forest elected to defend the north end zone to begin the game, forcing Georgia Tech's kickers to kick into the wind during the first and fourth quarters. [ [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/recaps/120206aae.html ACC Championship Post-Game Notes] Wake Forest Athletics Department, wakeforestsports.cstv.com. December 3, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2008.]
Wake Forest kicked off to begin the game, and Georgia Tech returned the kick to its own 24-yard line. On the first play of the game, Tech running back
Tashard Choiceattempted a rush, but was stopped for a loss of one yard. The play set the tone for the rest of the game, which would be a hard-fought, low-scoring defensive struggle. After the loss, Choice broke free on the second play of the game for a 24-yard run and a first down. On the next two plays, the Georgia Tech offense used their passing attack as quarterback Reggie Ballcompleted two passes, driving the Yellowjackets into Wake Forest territory. Subsequent plays allowed Tech to penetrate the Wake Forest red zone, but there, the Demon Deacons' defense stiffened. Despite having a first down inside the Wake Forest 10-yard line, Georgia Tech did not cross the goal line. Denied a touchdown, Georgia Tech was forced to settle for a field goalattempt from kicker Travis Bell. Bell's kick was good, and with 9:59 remaining in the first quarter, Georgia Tech took a 3–0 lead. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=263360059&period=1 1st Qtr Play-by-Play] Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Play-by-Play, ESPN.com. December 2, 2006. Accessed March 21, 2008.]
Following Georgia Tech's post-score kickoff, Wake Forest received the ball, but failed to gain a first down. The Deacons' offense went
three and outand was forced to punt. On Tech's next possession, they too had difficulty moving the football on offense. Though they picked up a first down off of a penalty on Wake Forest, they were unable to gain a first down by their own devices and were forced to punt the ball away.
The two teams traded possessions once more, and as the first quarter came to an end, Georgia Tech was in possession of the ball but was preparing to punt it away after yet another failure to pick up a first down.
Following the Georgia Tech punt, Wake Forest received the ball to begin the second quarter. Wake Forest, after a three and out, again punted the ball and Georgia Tech took over on offense. On their first full possession of the second quarter, Tech seemed to have more success moving the ball. Quarterback Reggie Ball picked up a first down running the ball, then completed a 22-yard pass to
wide receiverCalvin Johnson, driving the Yellow Jackets inside Wake Forest territory. Once there, however, Wake Forest's defense stiffened. Ball was unable to complete two consecutive passes, and his third pass inside Wake Forest territory was intercepted.
Having regained the ball, Wake Forest answered Georgia Tech's drive with one of their own. Several Wake running backs rushed with the ball, but it was Wake Forest quarterback
Riley Skinnerwho advanced the ball the most. He completed a 24-yard pass to Willie Idlette, then an eight-yard toss to Nate Morton. Inside Tech territory, Wake's offense stumbled. Skinner was sacked by a Tech defender, and kicker Sam Swank was sent into the game to attempt a 45-yard field goal. Swank's kick was no good, and with 7:26 remaining in the second quarter, Georgia Tech still had a 3–0 lead.
Taking over after the missed field goal, Georgia Tech was unable to gain a first down. After the Yellow Jackets punted the ball away, Wake Forest continued to have the increased offensive success they had shown in their previous drive. This time, it was running back Kenneth Moore who picked up the majority of the Deacons' yardage, as he carried the ball eight times during the drive. Toward the end of the drive, Wake Forest was assisted by a 10-yard penalty against the Yellow Jackets, which drove them inside Georgia Tech's red zone. There, however, Tech's defense stiffened. Despite having a first down at Tech's 10-yard line, Wake was unable to score a
touchdown. Kicker Sam Swank again came into the game to attempt a field goal, and connected on a 19-yard field goal. The kick tied the score at 3–3 with just 58 seconds remaining in the first half.
With time in the half virtually exhausted, Georgia Tech elected to run down the clock and take the game into
halftimetied, 3–3. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=263360059&period=2 2nd Qtr Play-by-Play] Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Play-by-Play, ESPN.com. December 2, 2006. Accessed March 22, 2008.]
Due to the fact that Georgia Tech received the ball to begin the game, Wake Forest received the ball to begin the second half. As in the first half, however, both teams' offenses were stifled by each team's defense. On its first possession of the second half, Wake Forest reached the Georgia Tech 48-yard line before being forced to punt.
Georgia Tech's first possession of the half was slightly more successful than Wake Forest's, as the Yellow Jackets drove inside the Deacons' 30-yard line on several passes from Reggie Ball. Again, however, the Tech defense stumbled. Facing a fourth down inside the Wake Forest red zone, Tech elected to attempt to convert the first down rather than punt the ball. Despite needing just one yard to gain another first down, Georgia Tech was stopped short of the line. The play was typical of the third quarter, which saw both teams fail to score.
Both Wake Forest and Georgia Tech mounted several drives into the other's territory, but were either stopped outside field goal range or attempted to convert a fourth down rather than kick the ball. As the quarter came to an end, the score remained tied 3–3, with neither team having scored a touchdown. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=263360059&period=3 3rd Qtr Play-by-Play] Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Play-by-Play, ESPN.com. December 2, 2006. Accessed March 26, 2008.]
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Georgia Tech was in possession of the ball, deep inside Wake Forest territory. Shortly after the quarter began, Tech failed to gain a needed first down in order to continue its drive. Instead of attempting to convert the fourth down—Tech had attempted and failed on two fourth-down conversions in the third quarter—Tech instead sent in kicker Travis Bell. Bell's 34-yard attempt sailed through the goalposts, and with 12:53 remaining in the game, Georgia Tech took a 6–3 lead.
After Georgia Tech's post-score kickoff, Wake Forest continued to struggle on offense. Quarterback Riley Skinner was sacked, threw an 18-yard completion, then three incomplete passes. Wake was forced to punt the ball away again, allowing the Yellow Jackets the possibility of expanding their lead. On Tech's first play after the punt, however, Reggie Ball's pass was intercepted, allowing Wake Forest another chance on offense. The play turned the momentum of the game in favor of Wake Forest, who proceeded to move the ball with slightly more effectiveness. [ [http://www.theacc.com/sports/m-footbl/recaps/120206aaa.html Wake Forest Claims First ACC Title Since 1970] The Associated Press, theACC.com. December 2, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2008.] During the Wake Forest drive, Skinner completed a 39-yard pass to John Tereshinski, who drove the Deacons inside Georgia Tech territory, where the drive continued. Though Wake Forest was forced to settle for a 33-yard field goal from kicker Sam Swank, the score tied the game at 6–6 with 7:59 remaining in the game.
Wake's post-score kickoff was downed in the end zone for a
touchback. With time running down, Georgia Tech had a chance for a game-winning score if it could sustain a drive into Wake Forest territory from its own 20-yard line. The drive began with a promising 14-yard completion to Calvin Johnson, but after Reggie Ball threw three incomplete passes, Georgia Tech was forced to punt the ball back to Wake Forest. The Deacons, after getting the ball at their own 20-yard line, began a drive of their own. Riley Skinner completed his first four passes of the drive, including a long 45-yard strike to Willie Idlette for the longest play of the game. With a first down inside the Georgia Tech red zone, the Deacons seemed to be in perfect position for a potentially game-winning touchdown. But as had every other drive previous, Wake Forest's offense failed to cross the goal line. Sam Swank kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Deacons a 9–6 lead, but Georgia Tech still had time for one final drive.
After receiving the Wake Forest kickoff, however, Georgia Tech's hopes were quickly deflated by three plays that resulted in negative yardage or no gain. Georgia Tech was forced into its final punt of the game, and Wake Forest received the ball and ran out the remaining time on the clock. Wake Forest won the 2006 ACC Championship Game by a 9–6 score. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=263360059&period=4 4th Qtr Play-by-Play] Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Play-by-Play, ESPN.com. December 2, 2006. Accessed March 26, 2008.]
Thanks to his performance in the game, Wake Forest
placekickerSam Swank was named the game's most valuable player. [ [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/swank_sam00.html Sam Swank] Wake Forest Athletics Department, wakeforestsports.cstv.com. Accessed March 30, 2008.] Swank was successful on three of his four field goalkicks during the game, kicking 19, 33, and 22-yard field goals while missing on a 45-yard attempt in the second quarter. [http://www.theacc.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/2006-2007/acc1202.html#GAME.IND Individual Statistics (Final)] The Atlantic Coast Conference, theACC.com. December 2, 2006. Accessed March 30, 2008.] The Demon Deacons' nine points—all of which were scored by Swank—were the least ever scored by the winning team in a Division I-A conference championship game. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=2684468 Elias Says ...] ESPN.com, December 3, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2008.]
quarterback Riley Skinnerfinished the game having completed 14 of his 25 pass attempts. He passed for 201 yards, one-fifth of which came on a single play during Wake Forest's final drive of the game. On the opposite side of the ball, Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball completed just nine of his 29 passes. Two of Ball's passes were intercepted by Wake Forest defenders, and Ball accounted for just 129 passing yards.
The majority of Georgia Tech's offense came on the ground from
running back Tashard Choiceand from quarterback scrambles by Ball. Choice ran the ball 21 times, netting 100 yards. Ball was Tech's second-leading rusher, and picked up 46 yards on 15 different rushes. Eight different players carried the ball for Wake Forest, with Kenneth Moore and Willie Idlette picking up the majority of the yardage. Moore finished the game with 16 carries for 38 yards, while Idlette earned 35 yards on six different attempts. Half of Idlette's yards came on one 19-yard carry, and he also earned 73 receiving yards during the game to lead all Wake receivers.
On defense, Jon Abbate led all Wake Forest defenders with 15 total tackles. Abbate also earned two tackles for loss and a
quarterback sackof Reggie Ball. Riley Swanson and Aaron Curry each caught an interception for Wake. [http://www.theacc.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/2006-2007/acc1202.html#GAME.DEF Defensive Statistics (Final)] The Atlantic Coast Conference, theACC.com. December 2, 2006. Accessed March 30, 2008.] Kenny Scott led the Georgia Tech defense statistically, earning eight total tackles, two tackles for loss, and one quarterback sack. Adamm Oliver finished with seven total tackles and one and a half tackles for loss.
With the victory, Wake Forest finished the regular season with an 11–2 record, breaking its previous team record for wins in a season. [http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/wake/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/06review.pdf 2006 Season in Review] Wake Forest Athletics Department, Page 1. Accessed March 29, 2008.] The 2006 ACC Championship was Wake's second championship in history, the first having come in 1970. Following the game, the Deacons' head coach, Jim Grobe, earned multiple national coach of the year honors for taking Wake to its first ACC championship in 36 years and taking the program from the worst in the ACC to the best in just one season. [ [http://www.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/stories/122006aat.html Grobe wins AP Coach of the Year] Ralph D. Russo, The Associated Press. CSTV.com. December 20, 2006. Accessed March 30, 2008.]
Following the game, Wake Forest earned an automatic bid to the
2007 Orange Bowlas a reward for its status as ACC champion. Wake Forest faced the Louisville Cardinals in Pro Player Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. [ [http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/120306aaa.html Wake Forest To Face Louisville In FedEx Orange Bowl] Wake Forest Athletics Department, December 3, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2008.]
Georgia Tech's took itto a 9–3 record. Tech was selected as a participant in the 2007 Gator Bowl as a reward for its second-place ACC finish.
Tech's selection to the Gator Bowl was a controversial one. Because both the Gator Bowl and ACC Championship game were held in Jacksonville, Georgia Tech would be forced to play two games in Jacksonville in four weeks. The team, league, and bowl officials were concerned that fact would hurt attendance.
List of Atlantic Coast Conference football champions
Glossary of American football
Other conference championship games
SEC Championship Game
Big 12 Championship Game
*WAC Championship Game
MAC Championship Game
*Conference USA Championship Game
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