TOO MUCH TECH
In the game’s most crucial plays Saturday, Duke’s quarterback mostly failed to execute.
On the other side, Georgia Tech’s signal caller used his speed, arm and guile to account for five touchdowns that made the difference.
Former Hillside High School quarterback Vad Lee threw for four touchdowns and ran for another, leading the Yellow Jackets to an easy 38-14 win over previously unbeaten Duke in ACC football at Wallace Wade Stadium.
A redshirt sophomore playing in his hometown for the first time since he was a Hillside senior in 2010, Lee put Georgia Tech ahead for good with a 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
He threw two more touchdown passes to DeAndre Smelter in the second quarter to give the Yellow Jackets a 24-7 halftime lead.
“I’m just excited to have great playmakers around me (who are) able to go get the ball,” Lee said. “We have a great run game to set the play-action. I feel like we can be a very balanced team with the run and the pass.”
On the Duke side, Brandon Connette is the first to admit his first game as starting quarterback since Anthony Boone’s broken collarbone thrust him into the role wasn’t as good as he had hoped.
Connette completed 15 of 28 passes for 122 yards as Duke’s offense was a dismal 3 of 14 on third-down conversions. The Blue Devils had 12 possessions in the game, but were forced to punt nine times while also turning the ball over on downs once deep in Yellow Jacket territory.
“The biggest thing that deterred us from moving the ball more on a consistent basis was third-down production,” Connette said. “A lot of that was just me being inaccurate on third down. Missing guys that were open. Throwing it a little bit behind or a little bit low. I have got to be more accurate and more consistent on third down in order to keep our offense on the field longer.”
Assessing Connette’s play, Duke coach David Cutcliffe said, “It was just one of those really tough days. I felt for him.”
The redshirt junior did rush for his 19th career touchdown on a 7-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
But, by then, Lee and the Yellow Jackets vaunted triple-option offense had left the game one-sided. Georgia Tech rushed for 344 yards and had 469 total yards against a Duke defense that had allowed opposing offenses to score only one touchdown in the previous two games.
“Obviously it’s a different kind of offense from most everyone else,” Duke linebacker Kelby Brown said. “There are different things we’ve got to do. Still it comes down to making plays and not letting them gain yards. It’s something that we’ve got to do.”
While Duke had already played and defeated N.C. Central and Memphis this season, Georgia Tech (2-0, 1-0 in ACC) opened with an easy 70-0 win over Elon before taking last weekend off.
That meant the Blue Devils only had one game tape to study and it proved a disadvantage for Duke.
“They came out in new sets, things we hadn’t seen,” Duke redshirt senior defensive end Kenny Anunike said. “We made some adjustments at halftime. We’ve just got to do better. We have to hold them down. But we’re going to do better. We are going to learn from today.”
The Blue Devils had moments of success on Saturday. A nine-play, 72-yard drive in the first quarter, culminated by Jela Duncan’s 1-yard touchdown run, gave the Blue Devils a brief 7-3 lead.
The offense didn’t commit a turnover.
On defense, Brown recorded 17 tackles while safety Jeremy Cash had 14 to lead Duke. They each had 1-1/2 tackles for losses.
Neither player was active last season as Brown recovered from a knee injury and Cash sat out after transferring from Ohio State.
On special teams, Anunike blocked a Georgia Tech field goal try in the fourth quarter.
But, seeking its first 3-0 start to a season since 1994, Duke (2-1, 0-1 in ACC) simply didn’t have enough successful plays to beat the reigning ACC Coastal Division champions.
“It’s hard to win ACC football games,” Cutcliffe said, “without a form of consistency.”
|GEORGIA TECH 38, DUKE 14|
GaT_FG Butker 49, 12:03.
Duke_Duncan 1 run (Martin kick), 9:14.
GaT_Lee 4 run (Butker kick), 6:04.
GaT_Smelter 24 pass from Lee (Butker kick), 10:05.
GaT_Smelter 10 pass from Lee (Butker kick), :42.
GaT_Godhigh 13 pass from Lee (Butker kick), 7:22.
Duke_Connette 7 run (Martin kick), 14:56.
GaT_Laskey 19 pass from Lee (Butker kick), 2:10.
|Time of Possession||38:32||21:28|
RUSHING_Georgia Tech, Godhigh 4-79, Lee 22-76, Sims 14-65,
Snoddy 3-29, Bostic 3-27, Laskey 3-24, Andrews 2-15, Days 5-14,
Zenon 2-10, Connors 1-6, Team 1-(minus 1). Duke, Duncan 16-89,
Thompson 6-19, Connette 10-15, Powell 2-9.
PASSING_Georgia Tech, Lee 8-16-1-125. Duke, Connette 15-28-0-122.
RECEIVING_Georgia Tech, Godhigh 4-59, Smelter 3-47, Laskey 1-19.
Duke, Crowder 6-38, Blakeney 4-49, Deaver 2-25, Thompson 2-3,