ATLANTA — Not moving the ball finally undid what had been a solid defensive performance by the Duke Blue Devils in a 27-0 ACC loss to Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday.
Tech exploited great field position in the final 20 minutes of the game when Duke's seams started showing.
Georgia Tech RB Roddy Jones scored on a four-yard toss play at the 3:59 mark in the third to put Tech up 10-0, but only after Duke CB Jabari Marshall was flagged for pass interference on third-and-15 from the Duke 28 three plays earlier.
Freshman QB Jaybo Shaw scored right at the start of the fourth quarter on a short running play.
On Georgia Tech's next possession, he hooked up WR Demaryius Thomas on a sideline pass. Instead of giving up a long gain, Duke safety Matt Daniels fell on the play and couldn’t help Glenn Williams stop Thomas from streaking for an 88-yard score and a 24-0 lead.
Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis threw an interception, his third in two games, with 2:25 left in the game. Georgia Tech turned it into a 26-yard field goal three plays later.
Duke, which hadn't had trouble scoring or moving the ball in its first four games, couldn't do either in Atlanta and started losing the field position battle in the third quarter. That gave the Yellow Jackets mostly short fields to work with. They started drives at their own 20, 43, and 47 during the third quarter.
Duke gained a sum total of four yards in the second and third quarters.
Georgia Tech did everything right except punching the ball into the end zone in the first half when it led 3-0 on Scott Blair's 20-yard field goal. After stopping Georgia Tech on its final drive of the half, Duke made a big mistake when Duke sophomore special teamer Abraham Kromah caught the Tech punter on the foot and was tagged for roughing the kicker.
Duke's defense bent plenty as the Yellow Jackets dominated the clock (17:10 to 10:25 of possession) and the field (215 to 49 yards of real estate). Duke didn't break. Greg Akinbiyi led the charge with a sack, a forced fumble and several plays behind scrimmage.
Duke's first series hinted at trouble, as wideout Eron Riley couldn't grab hold of a possible first down catch on a third down play with his left hand injured just days ago in practice. Duke went three and out.
Duke managed just 49 yards of first-half offense, officially five yards in the second quarter.
Georgia Tech's first play from scrimmage hinted at a potentially long afternoon for the Duke defense. Jonathan Dwyer, while gaining 101 first-half yards on 13 carries, made a nice move on a Duke linebacker inside to cut outside and set Duke corner Leon Wright with a hand for a 25-yard gain.