Coming into Saturday’s game the questions were there for Duke. How would they stop the nation’s No. 2 running attack? Could the offense score enough points to keep up with an opponent averaging more than 50 points per game. And on and on it went.
After 60 minutes of physical football, a number of those questions were positively answered by Coach Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils as Duke beat Georgia Tech 34-20. With the win Duke moves to 3-1 overall on the season and 1-0 in the ACC.
As to the questions, the biggest “affirmative” came from the defense which held the Yellow Jackets to just 174 yards of rushing offense, 148 yards less than the team had averaged through three weeks.
One of the primary reasons for Tech’s inability to move and up down the field was Duke senior Jeremy Cash who put together one of the best statistical games of any player this season.
Cash finished with 12 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, four quarterback hurries, and two forced fumbles. While fellow safety Devon Edwards added eight stops and a 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown, the fifth of his career.
After taking a 19-3 lead behind two Shaquille Powell touchdown runs, Duke found itself in a precarious position, leading 26-20 after Justin Thomas’ 12-yard touchdown run with 8:08 left.
The Yellow Jackets would have two more chances to take the lead, but were stopped on downs before Cash forced his second fumble of the game and Duke recovered.
Following that last turnover, the Blue Devils put the game away when Powell recorded his third touchdown run of the day, taking a 4th-and-1 handoff 30 yards up the middle for the definitive score.
Quarterback Thomas Sirk had a second straight rough outing, throwing a pair of interceptions and recording just 117 passing yards on 17-of-25 passing. Sirk did record a first quarter touchdown pass to freshman T.J. Rahming to give Duke it’s early 16 point advantage.