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Prolonging possessions: Ga. Tech wearing down opponents with long drives

ATLANTA - Georgia Tech is making a run at the ACC championship by holding the ball longer than any team in the nation.

Coach Paul Johnson's spread option attack has quick-strike potential with five scoring plays longer than 50 yards this season. But lately the No. 11 Yellow Jackets have been wearing down defenses with long, clock-draining possessions.

Georgia Tech's knockout punch in its 34-9 win at Virginia last week was its 18-play, 82-yard TD drive in the third quarter. The drive lasted almost 11 minutes.

Tech held the ball more than 42 minutes against both Virginia and North Carolina, two of the team's top three totals in the last 20 years. It leads the nation with its average time of possession of 34 minutes, 50 seconds.

The Yellow Jackets also had touchdown drives that covered 10 and 11 plays against Virginia. After the game Virginia players said they were sapped mentally and physically by the possessions.

'It's tough to see an opponent marching down the field, and time of possession is critical, especially in the second half,' Virginia linebacker Denzel Burrell said. 'That made it tough for the offense to put drives together and get down the field to score. It also taxes the defense both mentally and physically.'

Georgia Tech's 42:43 time of possession against Virginia was its high mark in at least 20 years. It held the ball 42:06 in a 24-7 win over North Carolina on Sept. 6, the first of five straight wins for the Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech's first win at Virginia since 1990 left the Yellow Jackets (7-1, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) in first place in the Coastal Division. They will take a break from their ACC schedule when they play at Vanderbilt on Saturday night.

Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said Georgia Tech's long drives can drain an opposing defense while also pressuring other offenses. He said the challenge for his offense is to put together its own long drives before Georgia Tech can take control.

'I don't think I've seen as many big plays by an offense in a year that I've seen from them,' Johnson said. 'It's been very impressive. Offensively, we've got to control the ball and keep it away from them.'