1. Georgia Tech’s defensive performance looked a bit like its work last Saturday – much better after halftime.
Tech allowed Duke to score two touchdowns and a field goal on four first-half possessions, not including a one-play possession to end the half. After halftime, Tech allowed a touchdown drive on the Blue Devils’ first series of the third quarter, but their final three possessions ended with a punt, a failed fake punt and an interception.
Last week against North Carolina, Tech allowed 36 points and 382 yards in the first half and the first play of the second half. After that, the Jackets gave up 14 points (including a touchdown scored by the UNC defense) and 115 yards.
“We basically wanted to stay patient,” said outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, who had two sacks and five tackles. It was his second multi-sack game in the past three games. “Take everything series for series and drive for drive. When the time is right, when the moment is right, we closed out the game regardless of what happened in the first half.”
Tech finished with four sacks, tying the season high set against Maryland.
2. Perhaps the most memorable play of the game was authored by offensive tackle Ray Beno on the opening drive of the second half. On a 3rd-and-7 from the Tech 28-yard line, quarterback Tevin Washington fired a pass to the sideline to wide receiver Chris Jackson, who couldn’t come down with the ball. It ended up in the hands of Beno, who broke a tackle and charged nine yards for a first down. In typical offensive lineman modesty, Beno owned up to two things – first, he was in position to make the catch because he’d missed a block, and second, it was the first time he’d carried the ball in a game, ever.
“All I know is that the ball popped out of Chris Jackson’s hands and I said, ‘Hey, we need a big play right now,’” Beno said. “I just took it and ran with it. Luckily, we got the first down.”
3. Before the team had even left the locker room after the game, the subject of its next opponent had already been addressed. Tech plays Georgia in Sanford Stadium next Saturday, hoping to stop its run of 10 losses in the past 11 games between the two archrivals.
“This is like momentum, really, to keep the team’s spirits up because hate week is next week,” nose tackle T.J. Barnes said. “We’ll try to learn from this win and try to get this last Georgia victory for me and the seniors.
4. Tech won its ninth consecutive game over Duke. It was also the Jackets’ 17th win in the last 18 years. Duke has not won at Bobby Dodd Stadium since 1994, coach Bill Lewis’ final year and the last year before this season that the Blue Devils were bowl eligible.
5. Tech continued its run of proficient ball security, with no turnovers in 86 plays. Last week, Tech had one turnover against North Carolina. Duke had one turnover, an interception.
“Generally, when you play a team that runs this offense, they’re going to make a mistake,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “They’re going to fumble a snap, they’re going to fumble the exchange, they’re going to pitch one on the ground. They did not. I told Coach (Paul) Johnson after the game that they played exceptionally on offense taking care of the ball.”
6. A-back Orwin Smith left the game with an ankle injury and did not return. Johnson did not know after the game if he would be available for the Georgia game. … Scouts from the Chick-fil-A, Belk and Independence bowls attended the game. … Duke wide receiver Conner Vernon set two ACC records Saturday. First, he caught a pass in his 46th consecutive game. Second, he had 38 yards’ worth of catches, which made him the league’s all-time leader in career receiving yardage. He passed Florida State standout Peter Warrick, who finished with 3,517. … The team’s 12 seniors were honored before the game with their families. Also included in the ceremony was Julian Burnett, the former linebacker and team captain who suffered a career-ending neck injury in the Sun Bowl last year. … Defensive end Izaan Cross, a team captain, did not play because of a high fever. A flu bug had been going around the team this week. He was replaced in the starting lineup by freshman Adam Gotsis, who recorded his first career sack.