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Georgia Tech Gets A Case Of The Dropsies And Duke Takes Full Advantage, Winning 28-14

We’re not sure we’ve ever seen three straight scores on three straight fumbles but there you go.

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Duke v Georgia Tech
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 13: T. J. Rahming #3 of the Duke Blue Devils is congratulated by Xander Gagnon #41 after a special team play against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on October 13, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Football coaches are fond of saying that a handful of plays decide most games; you just don’t know when those plays will come.

The deciding plays in Duke’s 28-14 win over Georgia Tech came in the final minutes of the third quarter, Duke turning three Tech fumbles into three Duke touchdowns, breaking a 7-7 tie in a two-minute blitz.

Duke spent much of the first half getting in their own way. The Blue Devils took the opening kickoff and moved downfield with almost contemptuous ease. It was 7-0 after 90 seconds.

Then the wheels started coming off. Poised to extend the lead, Daniel Jones lost a fumble on a sack deep in Tech territory. Late in the first half, Jones unwisely attempted a pass as he was going down. The interception was followed by a 32-yard TD pass from TaQuon Marshall to Malachi Carter, a play originally flagged for apparent offensive interference but upheld after the flag was inexplicably picked up.

Duke went into the locker room tied at 7 after a half in which they appeared to be the superior team.

On the road, in a place where Duke has not had a lot of success, this is the kind of thing that could have worn on a team, especially when the injuries continued to mount.

Instead, Duke put it away in that marvelous span.

Tech kept Duke out of the end zone in the fourth quarter. But Tech’s offense is not designed for quick strikes. They put together one scoring drive but it took 15 plays, more than seven minutes. A final drive came to naught inside the Duke 20, a sack and three incompletions.

So, Duke is on the board in the ACC, at 1-1, 5-1 overall, only a win shy of the six wins necessary for bowl eligibility. And Duke’s beleaguered players won’t have to answer any more questions about turning a 4-0 start into 4-6; trust me, there have been more than a few.

Jones recovered from his first-half miscues with an error-free second half. He ended with 17-of-27, for 206 yards, and three touchdowns. Deon Jackson was Duke’s only running back. He rushed for 98 yards, on 21 carries, and a touchdown, adding two catches, for eight yards.

It was his career high in rushing yards.

He did lose a fumble inside the Tech 10 late in the game.

Jackson is from Atlanta. So is receiver T.J. Rahming. Rahming struggled mightily in the punt-return game but came up big as a receiver, four receptions, all in the second half, including a 48-yard score that broke the tie.

Rahming became the fourth Duke receiver to surpass the 200-catch. He now has 202. Donovan Varner is next, at 207. Jamison Crowder and Conner Vernon are out of reach, at 283.

Atlanta-area native Dylan Singleton had a big sack late in the game.

Duke’s defense was the big story, essentially shutting down an offense that has been destroying teams in recent weeks. Tech only had one sustained scoring drive and rushed for 229 yards.

They came into the game averaging 373 rushing yards per game.

Tech went 1-4 on fourth down.

Linebacker Chris Rumph, moved from end after the injury earlier this week, had a solid game at his new position, with seven tackles and a sack, as did vets Ben Humphreys (11 tackles) and Joe Giles-Harris (15 tackles), Leonard Johnson had two sacks.

Defensive tackles Derrick Tangelo and Edgar Cerenord went down with injuries and I did not like the way Cerenord limped off the field.

But let’s worry about that down the road. Duke is on the way back to Durham, bringing a hard-earned victory over a division rival with it. .