DURHAM, N.C. — Six consecutive losses had Duke angry and motivated on Senior Day at Wallace Wade Stadium.
The result was an offensive eruption Georgia Tech was helpless to stop.
Shaun Wilson caught two touchdown passes and threw another, Brittain Brown ran for 116 yards and a score, and the Blue Devils kept their bowl hopes alive with a 43-20 victory over the Yellow Jackets on Saturday night.
Duke (5-6, 2-5 ACC) fell behind 14-3 early in the second quarter before dominating the rest of the way, including outscoring the Georgia Tech 23-0 in the second half, to snap its losing streak.
“When you break a six-game losing streak, it’s more than just a sigh of relief,” quarterback Daniel Jones said. “It was a lot of fun to play as we did as a team today and come out on top. “
Wilson caught swing passes of 11 and 16 yards from Jones for touchdowns and threw a trick-play, 4-yard touchdown on a jump pass at the line of scrimmage to tight end Daniel Helm.
Jones completed 18 of 26 passes for 177 yards and ran for 91 yards and a score to lead the Blue Devils’ rally. Brown’s contributions on the ground gave Duke a season-high 319 rushing yards.
“They went through us like we weren’t even there,” Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson said. “We couldn’t get the ball and by the time we got it, we were down 17. We just couldn’t keep up with them.”
TaQuon Marshall carried 20 times for 140 yards and a touchdown for the Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-4), which dropped to 0-5 on the road this season. The Blue Devils’ runaway surge put the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense in the uncomfortable position of having to pass, and Marshall completed just 3 of 13 attempts for 82 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets must now beat rival Georgia next week to guarantee bowl-eligibility. They could potentially sneak in with a 5-6 record if not enough teams qualify for a bowl game. The Yellow Jackets are playing only 11 regular season games after their Sept. 16 matchup at Central Florida was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma.
Duke: The Blue Devils lost by a touchdown or less four times during their six-game losing streak, and had the ball on the final drive with a chance to tie in all four games. They made sure this one wasn’t close, outscoring Georgia Tech 40-6 after falling into that 14-3 hole.
Marshall ran in an 8-yard touchdown to give Georgia Tech a 20-13 lead with 2:06 remaining in the first half, but that would be the last positive for Yellow Jackets. They allowed Duke to march 72 yards and tie the score just 26 seconds before halftime, and Jones led the Blue Devils 75 yards on the opening drive of the second half for a touchdown to give Duke its first lead, and one it would hold the rest of the way.
“The end of the first half killed us again,” Johnson said. “They came down and tied the game up..then they come out and score again. We go three-and-out and that was pretty much it.”
Duke was held under 20 points in each of its six losses leading up to Saturday’s 43-point outburst. It was their highest-scoring game of the season against an FBS opponent.
“We got back to running that ball again and got back to what Duke does well,” Brown said. “It shouldn’t have been like that. We knew we had a high-powered offense to do what we did tonight.”
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets host No. 7 Georgia in a rivalry showdown to finish the regular season.
Duke: The Blue Devils conclude the regular season at Wake Forest and can clinch a spot in a bowl game with a win.