DURHAM — Duke beat Georgia Tech at its own game on Saturday, topping the Yellow Jackets 43-20 at Wallace Wade Stadium on Senior Day.
The Blue Devils rushed for 319 yards, their most since November 2015, and controlled the ball against Georgia Tech.
“You’ve got to take the challenge on yourself to try to outrush a team,” coach David Cutcliffe said. “And about the only way you’re going to outrush a Georgia Tech team is to be on the field more than they are. We accomplished that.”
Freshman running back Brittain Brown rushed for a team-high 116 yards and a touchdown to lead the ground attack, as Duke became just the second team this year — Clemson was the other — to outrush the Yellow Jackets.
“We wanted to rush for more yards than Georgia Tech did,” Brown said. “If we did that, going against a triple option team, we felt we were going to win the game.”
The Blue Devils controlled the ball for more than 12 minutes in the third quarter, helping them to pull away after falling behind by 11 points early.
“At halftime we made some good adjustments,” Cutcliffe said. “That third quarter was dominant.”
The Yellow Jackets opened the game with back-to-back touchdowns, putting Duke down 14-3 early.
“I told them, ‘When you’re playing an option team, prepare to play from behind at some point,’” Cutcliffe said. “To play these teams, you have to catch up to the speed of that offense. It’s not a scout team. So it takes you awhile to get your sea legs.”
Daniel Jones passed to Shaun Wilson for an 11-yard touchdown to cut the score to 14-10. It was one of two touchdown catches by the senior running back. Wilson also threw a jump pass touchdown to Daniel Helm on a trick play.
“That was something we just put in this week,” Cutcliffe said. “The hard part is picking the right time. It looked good in practice. Shaun wasn’t about to be tackled.”
Duke’s defense stepped up to support the efficient offense. Defensive lineman Victor Dimukeje tipped a third-down pass to himself and returned it 26 yards, to set up a short scoring drive for the offense.
“I saw the quarterback drop back, and I tried to get to him,” Dimukeje said. “But I wasn’t going to get there, so I just put my hand up, saw the ball up in the air and I tried to intercept it and score the touchdown. Our defense preaches try to get to the end zone every time you get possession of the ball. I just tried to get as many yards as I could.”
Cutcliffe spoke during the week about the importance of making the most out of their drives, since Georgia Tech’s run offense could take time off the clock and limit possessions. Duke did that, scoring on its first seven possessions and eight of their 10 possessions for the game.
“I’ve actually lost a game scoring on 10 of 13. Not much to brag about,” Cutcliffe said.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak for Duke. “I’d forgotten what that’s like, to be honest with you,” Cutcliffe joked. The streak started immediately after Duke’s win over UNC in October. It’s the first time Duke posted another win in a season after beating North Carolina since Dec. 2, 1961. More importantly, it kept Duke’s bowl hopes alive. The Blue Devils are 5-6 and will play at Wake Forest for a chance to win six and become bowl eligible.