HALFTIME: Duke 19, Georgia Tech 10

After a half of play, it would seem as though the Blue Devils have bounced back from last week’s 19-10 loss to Northwestern.

Duke leads No. 20 Georgia Tech 19-10. Redshirt junior quarterback Thomas Sirk has completed 11 of his 16 passes and the Blue Devils have outgained the Yellow Jackets 204-179 yards to take control through the opening 30 minutes.

On Duke’s first drive, the offense was in rhythm until Georgia Tech recovered a Shaun Wilson fumble at midfield. The Yellow Jackets quickly turned the turnover into points, converting a 52-yard field goal.

But when quarterback Thomas Sirk and the Blue Devils began their second drive, the offense continued to click. A four-yard touchdown run by running back Shaquille Powell capped off a 12 play, 75 yard drive that gave the Blue Devils a 7-3 lead. Duke took what the Yellow Jacket defense gave them, relying on short passes and quick throws to move down the field.

After a bad snap on a Georgia Tech punt gave the Blue Devils possession at the Yellow Jacket 48-yard line, Duke’s offense went back to work. Sirk completed a 32-yard pass to senior receiver Max McCaffrey and then delivered an 11-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver T.J. Rahming.

The Blue Devils then extended their lead to 20-3, thanks to a 69-yard punt return from Ryan Smith and a one-yard rushing touchdown by Powell.

Duke’s defense has held its ground against Georgia Tech’s lethal triple-option attack. After surrendering the field goal, the defense held the Yellow Jackets to consecutive three-and-outs. Duke’s defenders—led by linebacker Dwayne Norman and safety Jeremy Cash—held their gaps and shifted well to shut down Georgia Tech’s B-back and quarterback Justin Thomas on the outside.

Toward the end of the first half, Georgia Tech’s offense began to gain steam. Thomas capped a 12-play, 74-yard drive by hitting Ricky Jeuene over the middle to close the gap to 19-10.

Here are some observations from the first half:

  • Near the end of the second quarter, redshirt freshman receiver Chris Taylor was open down field. However, Sirk waited to feed him the ball, which allowed a Georgia Tech defensive to close in on Taylor and resulted in a incompletion.
  • The Georgia Tech offense has been efficient in the air. Thomas has completed four of his six passes for 92 yards.
  • Duke attempted an onside kick following its first touchdown. The Yellow Jackets recovered in good field position at their 44-yard line.
  • After losing the special teams battle last week against Northwestern, Duke’s special teams have rebounded against the Yellow Jackets.
  • Redshirt junior running back Jela Duncan—who missed the first three games with a torn pectoral muscle and last season due to suspension—has gained 17 yards on two rushes.

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