Duke emphatically ends losing streak with upset win over Georgia Tech

Duke’s Shaun Wilson (29) celebrates his touchdown with Daniel Helm (80) and Daniel Jones (17) against Georgia Tech, Saturday, November 18, 2017, in Durham.
Duke’s Shaun Wilson (29) celebrates his touchdown with Daniel Helm (80) and Daniel Jones (17) against Georgia Tech, Saturday, November 18, 2017, in Durham. bthomas@heraldsun.com

Duke’s offense, dormant for two months during a six-game losing streak, reawakened just in time to save the Blue Devils’ bowl hopes on Saturday.

With senior running back Shaun Wilson catching two touchdown passes and throwing for another, the Blue Devils scored their most points since the season’s opening week in beating Georgia Tech 43-20 at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Winning for the first time since Sept. 23, Duke (5-6, 2-5 in ACC) halted its longest losing streak since 2011. The Blue Devils need a win at Wake Forest in the Nov. 25 regular-season finale to ensure themselves of bowl eligibility for the fifth time in six seasons.

Frequently utilizing his running backs in the passing game, Duke quarterback Daniel Jones completed 18 of 26 passes for 177 yards. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for another while also gaining 91 rushing yards on 16 carries.

Freshman running back Brittain Brown rushed for 116 yards, while Wilson caught three passes – including two for touchdowns.

Duke gained 500 yards of total offense.

After a first half that saw neither team punt and the score tied at 20, the Blue Devils took control in the third quarter.

Jones’ 16-yard touchdown pass to Wilson on a screen pass gave the Blue Devils the lead for good at 27-20 on Duke’s first possession of the second half.

Despite playing without two injured starting defensive players in linebacker Ben Humphreys (leg) and safety Jeremy McDuffie (leg), Duke’s defense stifled the Yellow Jackets after halftime. Georgia Tech failed to get a first down on its first two possessions after halftime.

Following the Yellow Jackets’ first punt, Jones led the Blue Devils on a 64-yard drive. Brown gained 42 yards during the drive on five carries.

The Blue Devils reached the Georgia Tech 4 before the drive stalled, and Austin Parker kicked a 25-yard field goal giving Duke a 30-20 lead with 5:17 left in the third quarter.

When the Yellow Jackets were forced to punt again, Duke drove 69 yards to erase the rest of the third-quarter clock and add a touchdown.

Jones completed a 27-yard pass to Johnathan Lloyd to the Yellow Jackets’ 25. From there, Duke ran the ball on six consecutive plays with Jones, Wilson and Brown all involved, to reach the Georgia Tech 5.

Wilson took a handoff and run up the middle. But he stopped before the line of scrimmage, jumped in the air and tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Daniel Helm giving Duke a 36-20 lead with 13:57 to play.

Jones turned the game into a rout with a 32-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Neither team punted in the first half as both offense’s took turns marching down the field, leading to a 20-20 halftime tie.

With Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall rushing for 118 yards on 12 first-half carries, Georgia Tech put together scoring drives covering 75, 79 and 81 yards. Marshall threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Qua Searcy on a third-down play for Georgia Tech’s first touchdown. Marshall added an 8-yard touchdown run with 2:09 left in the first half for Georgia Tech’s third touchdown.

Duke’s offense has struggled throughout its six-game losing streak. But the Blue Devils were solid in the first half, driving inside the Yellow Jackets’ 20 all four times they had the ball.

Duke’s first drive reached the Yellow Jackets’ 2 before a bad pitch from Jones to Wilson forced Duke to settle for a 30-yard Parker field goal.

Georgia Tech took a 14-3 lead when J.J. Green’s 3-yard run capped a 79-yard touchdown drive.

Duke, though, responded quickly as Brown broke free for 27-yard runs on consecutive plays to reach the Georgia Tech 12.

On third down, Jones’ swing pass to Wilson resulted in an 11-yard touchdown play leaving Duke down 14-10.

Georgia Tech drove into Duke territory. But on third down from the Duke 34, Duke defensive lineman Victor Dimukeje tipped a Marshall pass into the air and gathered it in for an interception. Holding the ball in his right hand, Dimukeje stiff-armed his way down field to the Georgia Tech 27.

Duke reached the Yellow Jackets’ 7 with three running plays, but the drive stalled and Parker booted a 25-yard field goal for a 14-13 Georgia Tech lead.

Marshall’s touchdown run put Georgia Tech ahead 20-13, but Duke’s Mike Ramsay blocked the extra point.

With 2:09 on the clock, the Blue Devils started from their 28, and Jones completed passes to Brown and T.J. Rahming to move Duke to the Georgia Tech 41.

On fourth-and-5 from the 36, Jones completed an 8-yard pass to Helm to keep the drive going. Jones scrambled 17 yards to the Georgia Tech 11, and the Blue Devils moved to the 2 after a Georgia Tech pass interference penalty.

With 26 seconds left in the half, Brown ran it 2 yards for a touchdown that tied the score at 20-20 at halftime.