Duke rallied from a 28-7 deficit to take a 34-31 lead against Georgia Tech midway through the fourth quarter on Saturday. However, the Blue Devils’ season long inability to contain explosive plays once against proved to be the difference as the Yellow Jackets scored with just over five minutes remaining and then made a huge conversion on third down to put the game away.
Justin Thomas found running back Clinton Lynch on a 21-yard pass play over the middle with 5:38 remaining to put Georgia Tech up 38-35, but Duke had time - and seemingly the momentum - to steal a much needed fourth victory on the season.
However, the Blue Devils went three and out and punted deep into Yellow Jacket territory. Soon after Duke’s defense had forced Georgia Tech into a 3rd-and-17 situation with over two minutes left. That’s when Jackson escaped the initial Duke pressure and sprinted up the field for a 50 yard gain, and icing the game.
Thomas had routinely hurt Duke throughout the game, totally nearly 460 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. It was a far cry from previous seasons when the Blue Devil defense had been able to reasonably contain the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense.
For the Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones finished 22-of-36 for 305 yards and two touchdowns - both to tight end Daniel Helm, while also running for another 73 yards. Junior Sean Wilson added 109 yards on 10 carries while Jela Duncan added 52 on 10 attempts before leaving the game with an undisclosed lower leg injury.
Through the air Duke was led by Helm’s 72 yards on six catches while Chris Taylor added five receptions and 67 yards.
With the loss Duke falls to 3-5 on the season and 0-4 in conference play.