Defense and special teams led the way for Duke’s 34-20 upset of No. 20 Georgia Tech. And the Yellow Jackets’ special teams issues directly led to three of the Blue Devils’ first four scores.
A high snap on a punt-turned-incomplete-pass by punter Ryan Rodwell set Duke up at the Georgia Tech 48-yard line, and quarterback Thomas Sirk hit wide receiver T.J. Rahming for an 11-yard touchdown pass to make it a 13-3 game in the first quarter. The Yellow Jackets then gave up a 69-yard punt return to Duke’s Ryan Smith, who was brought down at the 1-yard line. Shaquille Powell popped it in on the next snap for a 19-3 lead. And Duke’s final score came on a 100-yard kickoff return by DeVon Edwards in the fourth quarter, putting the Blue Devils up 26-13.
With five minutes left and Georgia Tech trailing just 26-20, the Yellow Jackets had fourth-and-1 from the Duke 26-yard line. But defensive end Deon Williams and safety Jeremy Cash stuffed fullback Patrick Skov for no gain, bailing out Duke’s anemic second-half offense.
Three who mattered
Jeremy Cash: Duke’s most productive player, period, with 12 total tackles, four quarterback hurries, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one sack
DeVon Edwards: In addition to his 100-yard kickoff return, Edwards recorded eight tackles at safety
Dwayne Norman: The redshirt senior linebacker annually thrives in Duke’s 4-3 alignment for the Yellow Jackets, with nine total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one sack and quarterback hurry apiece
Three key numbers
Number Georgia Tech’s yards per carry average against Duke
7.3 Georgia Tech’s yards per carry average entering the game
3 First downs for Duke after the first quarter. The game was won on defense and special teams.
The final dagger was delivered by Duke on fourth-and-1 with about two minutes left on the clock, as Powell burst through the line for a 30-yard touchdown.