ATLANTA (AP) – Reggie Ball threw for two touchdowns and a career-high 320 yards, including eight passes for 131 yards to Damarius Bilbo, as No. 17 Georgia Tech held off North Carolina 27-21 Saturday.

After North Carolina pulled to within six points late in the fourth quarter, the Tar Heels stopped Tech on three plays and took possession at its 41 with 2:51 left to play. Tech’s Dennis Davis intercepted a long pass from Matt Baker near the goal line to end the threat.

The Tar Heels (0-1, 0-1 ACC) got the ball again at their 19 with 44 seconds left, but Baker’s third interception of the game ended the comeback hopes.

Ball also ran for 20 yards with a 9-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Atlantic Coast opener for both teams.

In his first start, North Carolina’s Baker completed 18 of 39 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score.

For Tech (2-0, 1-0), Calvin Johnson added six catches for 114 yards and P.J. Daniels rushed for 103 yards as Georgia Tech finished with 475 total yards.

Lewis intercepted Baker in the end zone with 6:47 left to play, but Lewis was beaten on a 17-yard scoring pass from Baker to Jawarski Pollock, pulling the Tar Heels to within six points at 27-21 with 4:16 left.

Ball’s previous high was 288 yards passing against Connecticut in 2004. The junior had to protect his starting job in spring practice after throwing 18 interceptions last season, but – thanks in part to the league’s new instant replay rule – he did not have a turnover against the Tar Heels.

On his first pass attempt, Ball threw low for Johnson and officials ruled North Carolina cornerback Cedrick Holt intercepted the ball. The ruling was overturned following the video review.

Able to retain possession, Tech took a 7-0 lead on Ball’s 5-yard pass to Daniels following Daniels’ 36-yard run.

Tech pushed its lead to 14-0 in the second quarter on Ball’s 48-yard touchdown pass to Bilbo, who lost his helmet while falling backward in the end zone.

Baker scored North Carolina’s first touchdown on a 10-yard run in the second quarter.

North Carolina pulled even on an 87-yard scoring pass from Baker to Derrele Mitchell. Tech’s Davis and KaMichael Hall missed tackle attempts as Mitchell ran down the Tech sideline.

Tech answered with 25- and 22-yard field goals by Travis Bell in the third quarter before Ball scored on a 9-yard run early in the fourth quarter.

Freshman James “Cooter” Arnold started at tailback for North Carolina and shared time with LSU transfer Barrington Edwards. The two combined for only 50 yards rushing.

AP-ES-09-10-05 1946EDT


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