Duke was once the matchup Georgia Tech could rely on to notch a win but the last six years have seen Tech only win one back in 2016. Tonight, the Jackets could be starting a trend to stay on the positive side of this series once again.
The 26-point margin of victory proved to be a comfortable lead at the end but this game was anything but until the fourth quarter. Both coaches would agree that things got sloppy on special teams just before the half that saw two questionable decisions made by the kick returners.
First, Georgia Tech’s Dontae Smith fielded a ball at the 4 that should have bounced out of bounds, but instead caught it and stepped out. It would result in Mason being tackled in the end zone for a safety. Not to be outdone was Duke’s Damond Johnson who tried to signal a fair catch on a ball rolling on the ground. He would then pick it up to be tackled into the end zone. The refs would rule forward progress at the one. It turned out to be in Tech’s favor though when Jordan Domineck would strip-sack Chase Brice and recover for a touchdown.
Georgia Tech and Duke came into this game with turnover issues and those continued for both teams but Georgia Tech managed to only give the ball up three times to Duke’s five. Tech also capitalized on their opportunities turning three of them into touchdowns for 21 points.
For all their offensive woes, Duke has played well along their defensive line but tonight they few answers for an onslaught of rushes by Gibbs, Mason, and Sims. Gibbs started the game with a 61-yard touchdown carry and added a 26-yarder a few drives later. He would leave with only six carries after an apparent hamstring injury in the 1st half.
Mason kept things moving right along with 105 yards rushing in addition to 108 by Sims who also threw for three touchdowns in a pocket that didn’t always give him time. Sims completed the three touchdowns to Carter, Sanders, and Camp each.
Having a steady rushing attack came in handy for the field position battle as Presley Harvin was unavailable today and Austin Kent filled in. He only punted three times but had a decent a reasonable 41-yard average.
The defense showed some holes early in the game with 26 points allowed in the first half but continued to be a lockdown unit in the second half allowing only one score. Kaleb Oliver came away with a hard-hitting sack on Chase Brice on the first drive but the defense started to find their way into the backfield as the game wore on. Jordan Domineck recorded two sacks with Akelo Stone adding one more.
In all, Duke isn’t a good team but credit Georgia Tech for taking advantage of the miscues to come away with their third win of the season. There will need to be an improvement on special teams when it comes to being aware of the situation at hand on returns. If that happens then it is possible with NC State and Pitt still on the schedule for the Yellow Jackets to top their win total from last year in the next few weeks.