Watching the Yellow Jackets first drive of the game go nowhere and resulting in a punt was not giving me a positive vibe. After seeing CPJ’s expression on the sideline it was obvious that he was in meltdown mode as well. Then if that wasn’t aggravating enough, seeing Duke go 59 yards in four plays scoring a touchdown right down the middle of the field to a wide open receiver, I was very concerned. Not the start I had envisioned to get this team back on the winning track. Then it happened; another 3 and out for the offense. The defense came out and stuffed Duke forcing a punt.
This drive CPJ ran the ball, ran it some more, and for good measure ran it into the end zone and tied up the game at 7. More importantly, it instilled the message that the Yellow Jackets were going to run the football on Duke and keep the football away from their pass happy offense. The defense stops another Blue Devil possession, then the GT triple option ground up the Duke defense with a nice assist from WR Tyler Melton who made a very difficult 31 yard catch on first down and opened up the defense even more enabling the triple option to work its way down the field with A-Back Roddy Jones taking it the final yard for a 14 to 7 lead. I’m still not happy with a one score lead but the game was still early and I liked the fact we were getting consistent yardage by the B-Back in this contest.
After giving up a first down the defense toughened and forced another Duke punt near the end of the first quarter. On second down Tevin Washington hits Embry Peeples on a huge 46 yard catch down into Blue Devil territory. After that the Duke defenders were given a steady dose of triple option and the Yellow Jackets scored another touchdown with David Sims going up the middle for short score. Playing much better at this point in the game and with the score now 21 to 7 I’m thinking it’s time to blow this one open and get the back-up folks some playing time.
Apparently the Blue Devils didn’t get the memo because they took the football 80 yards on 13 plays with mostly short passing gains and dinked and dunked their way down the field to cut the lead to 21 to 14. I didn’t see CPJ after that touchdown but I’m sure he was livid too. If not, then he sure was after a kickoff return to the 12 yard line that had a block in the back penalty pinning the offense on the six yard line to start the next drive. After a few running plays gave the Yellow Jackets a first down around the 20 yard line, Tevin Washington threw a nice ball down the right side line to Stephen Hill for a 56 yard gain and now the Yellow Jacket offense was in good shape to score another touchdown before the half ended. Embry Peeples scored on a one yard toss sweep to the right that required him to use every inch of his body and all of his pilates and yoga ability to reach out and get the football across the pylon as he was tackled.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think he scored the touchdown initially but was very happy the call on the field was a touchdown. After seeing every replay camera angle available, it was still looking like a tossup but ultimately the call on the field was upheld by the replay booth but probably by the slimmest of hairs. So Georgia Tech goes into the half with a 28 to 14 lead without any room for comfort.
The second half came down to the Yellow Jackets running the football and doing everything possible to protect that slim lead. Tevin Washington was once again the offensive player of the game with his big pass completions, great decision making, and distribution of the football on the option. He had a phenomenal 39 yard touchdown run on a second and nine with Tevin slithering between tacklers and had a great block by A-Back Tony Zenon that wiped out a couple of Duke defenders inside the ten yard line.
On a day when the defense played the passing offense fairly well and didn’t give up any huge plays for the most part, they saved their biggest play by getting an interception from Jemea Thomas at the Georgia Tech 40 yard line to end the Blue Devils’ last drive of the game. The play was reviewed and it was quite an interception by Jemea who literally reached back and took a pass out of the stomach of the Duke receiver who thought he had a reception. Just as he did in the Clemson game a few weeks ago, young Mr. Thomas came through in the clutch to preserve the win.
Then Tevin Washington took over and in a Joshua Nesbitt like performance made the final play necessary to seal the victory by going 16 yards to get a first down on a third down and six from the Duke 45. After that the Yellow Jackets closed out the game in victory formation. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t easy, but on a day when upsets were happening faster than ESPN could update them, Georgia Tech got a much needed win on the road to improve to 8 and 3 for the season and closing out their ACC play at 5 and 3.
Let me just say that Duke is a very competitive football team with a tough passing attack that has two stand out receivers that catch everything thrown to them. They gave Va. Tech all they could handle a few weeks ago losing 14 to 10, so this Blue Devil team under Coach Cutcliffe is a far cry from their predecessors. So time to get ready for the game everyone looks forward to every year.
UGA is playing outstanding football and will be in the Georgia Dome in a few weeks competing for the SEC Championship in all likelihood against LSU. However, I saw they had a very difficult game with Kentucky in Athens winning only 19 to 10 after taking advantage of a couple of Wildcat turnovers. The Bulldogs went into that game heavily favored and given that Kentucky has only one SEC win this season coming against hapless Ole Miss who are winless in the league, the Yellow Jackets will have their chance to break the Bulldogs current 9 game winning streak that they have put together after losing their first two contests of the season.
In this year’s chapter of “Clean Old Fashioned Hate” the Yellow Jackets will really need the support of every GT fan at BDS next week to energize them much like they did for both the Clemson and Va. Tech games. The fans really need to bring the noise and support for this one as this game has always been very competitive under CPJ and I expect the same effort this year. Looking forward to a GT win to cap off the regular season and close out the year with momentum heading into a bowl game. THWG!