Written by Brian Pohl
Atlanta, GA- Georgia Tech’s home troubles in 2018 continue as they fall to the Duke Blue Devils 28-14.
After a close first half, a strong second-half push by Duke saw the Blue Devils pull away from the Yellow Jackets with three touchdowns in the third quarter, which Georgia Tech was unable to recover from.
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson on the loss, “I’m just really frustrated. We didn’t play particularly well in the first half on offense, especially on some short yardage stuff, and couldn’t seem to convert. Thought we made some good adjustments at halftime.” He continued talking about turnover mistakes that plagued his team, “I thought we had cleaned that up, but clearly, we haven’t. There’s a small margin for error. We can’t win games where we turn the ball over three times, start the half with a penalty, and start the first drive with a penalty. Today we didn’t do a good job of it.”
It was a struggle to get anything going on offense, as the stout defensive line of Duke was able to consistently get penetration through the Georgia Tech offensive line and wreaking havoc in the Yellow Jacket backfield. The Jackets outgained the Blue Devils with 354-yards to Dukes 304, but Georgia Tech was unable to make enough big plays to stay in the game.
Senior quarterback TaQuon Marshall was more consistent in the air than he has been this season, completing five of eleven passes for 91-yards, including a nice 32-yard touchdown pass to Malachi Carter that tied the game up right before halftime. Once the Jackets got down, however, they were unable to get enough production out of the passing game to catch back up.
Marshall’s strength is his running game, and the Duke defense was able to keep him in check, limiting the senior to just 41-yards on 16 rushes. Marshall had to leave the game in the fourth quarter after suffering an apparent injury, and redshirt freshman Tobias Oliver finished out the game for the Jackets.
Oliver flashed some of his potential during his playing time, completing a couple passes and marching the offense down the field for their second and final touchdown of the game. It is not known whether TaQuon Marshall will miss any playing time with his injury, but Oliver showed that he has command of the triple-option attack if coach Johnson chooses to run with the redshirt freshman.
On defense, Georgia Tech did a good job of limiting Duke’s offense as a whole, holding the Blue Devils to just 304-yards of total offense, but the Jackets were hamstrung with having to defend after turnovers in the second-half. Losing three fumbles for the game, Georgia Tech just gave Duke too many opportunities to pull away late and allowed 21 points off of turnovers. Two of the scores allowed were in the final minute of the third quarter, where Duke expanded to a 28-7 lead, allowing them to cruise to the finish line.
Duke’s redshirt junior quarterback Daniel Jones, who has become one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC under head coach David Cutcliffe, finished that day completing 17 of his 27 passes for 206-yards and three touchdowns. The NFL prospect made big plays when called upon, and shined on the two late third quarter touchdowns where he found receivers in the end zone to extend the Blue Devils lead towards the victory.
It was a disappointing loss for Georgia Tech, who fall to 3-4 on the season after battling back to a .500 record after two straight 60-point wins. An ACC Coastal Division title seems out of reach for the Jackets at this point, who now shift their focus towards bowl eligibility, which they failed to do last season.
Georgia Tech has a bye next week before they travel up to Blacksburg, Virginia for a Thursday night matchup with the Virginia Tech Hokies.