It didn’t take very long to figure out that Duke’s bye week didn’t help it figure out a way to stop Georgia Tech’s vaunted triple option attack.
The Blue Devils made the crucial mistake against the Yellow Jackets of allowing them to get ahead by a couple scores and with their defense’s inability to stop the option, it was all an up hill battle. The end result was a 42 to 24 loss that eliminates the Blue Devils ACC Title game hopes and sends Duke (6-5 (3-4 ACC) back to Durham on a three game losing streak.
Whether it was through the air or on the ground the Blue Devils couldn’t get anything close to a stop against the Yellow Jackets and their offense wasn’ t good enough especially late in the game to try and keep it close.
Whatever Georgia Tech ran worked and the Blue Devils couldn’t force a turnover to try and turn the the momentum in their favor. In the end Duke just had no answers on defense.
The Yellow Jackets controlled the time of possession holding on to the ball for just over 38 minutes. That’s not a shocking stat but it just shows you how dominate they were on offense.
Georgia Tech finished with 449 yards of offense, 330 of those yards on the ground but Georgia Tech also had three passing touchdowns, the final with just over 3 minutes remaining, adding insult to injury.
Offensively the Blue Devils kept the game close early on and the game went back and forth. But ultimately Duke, couldn’t keep up the pace with the Yellow Jackets. Quarterback Sean Renfree played a solid game when he wasn’t lying on his back. He finished with 198 yards, two touchdowns and a running touchdown. He did throw a late interception but at that point the turnover was moot.
The big news for Duke was the fact that wide receiver Conner Vernon became the ACC’s all-time leading receiver in yards. He also set a new ACC record for consecutive games with at least one catch.
Vernon finished the game with only five catches for 38 yards just enough to pass the old ACC record held by former Florida State standout Peter Warrick. It was fellow senior Desmond Scott who had the best game of the receivers catching 10 balls for 124 yards and a touchdown.
Still with all the weapons, Duke’s offense was slowed enough for Georgia Tech’s offense, who only failed to score on two drives the entire game, to build a two score lead. And once the margin went to two scores the game was essentially over. The Yellow Jackets were 13-20 on third down and 4 for 4 on fourth down showing just how dominate they were when they had the ball.
Duke couldn’t force Georgia Tech into any long down and distance situations and all the Yellow Jackets had to do was essentially pick apart the Blue Devils with a pounding running game that averaged. 4.6 yards per carry average. That ability to run so effectively also opened up thing for Georgia Tech to creates some big plays in the passing game.
For Duke the only thing left is to pick up the pieces and head back to Durham on a season long three-game losing streak. The Blue Devils will finish out the year against Miami at home with a chance to finish the regular season with a winning record and improve their chances of landing in a better bowl game.
Still the inability to win a game in November hangs over the Blue Devils as their next big hurdle to try and scale and if they don’t execute better it could be another year before they get a chance. That said, 6-5 is still an improvement for a team that has been as low as Duke has been, still once you start seeing the team win it is hard to not want to see them win more.
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