Duke and Georgia Tech battle for a much-needed rebound

National Sports

Georgia Tech and Duke have something in common going into Saturday afternoon’s game in Durham, N.C.

Each is trying to shake off a 31-point defeat.

Getting things back together this week is the top priority for both teams in the ACC game.

“When you are getting those types of inconsistent results, that is the thing you can’t run from,” said Duke coach David Cutcliffe, whose Blue Devils (3-2, 0-1 ACC) had a three-game winning streak snapped with a 38-7 loss at North Carolina. “I have to own it and run to it. Now, (our players) have to own their end of this.”

That’s much the approach the Yellow Jackets (2-3, 1-2) are taking after their 52-21 home loss to Pitt.

“Hit the reset button,” Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins said. “I believe in those guys. We just have to learn how to not hurt ourselves. We can’t look anywhere else except at ourselves and where we can do better.”

Georgia Tech had enjoyed a big 45-22 win over then-No. 21 North Carolina but couldn’t repeat that performance the following week against Pitt. Duke, meantime, was left to absorb the frustrations that the Tar Heels unleashed after their upset loss to Tech.

The Blue Devils look to move past that game and improve to 4-0 at home this season.

“It is another ACC game every week and they are all critically important to us,” Cutcliffe said.

Duke’s defense had five sacks in the North Carolina game. That came a week after Georgia Tech posted eight sacks against the Tar Heels, so both teams have shown the ability to apply quarterback pressure.

A fumble returned 63 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter put Duke down by 14 against North Carolina, and the Blue Devils were unable to get untracked offensively, scoring only on an 80-yard pass from Gunnar Holmberg to Jalon Calhoun after they had fallen behind 24-0.

Holmberg managed just 104 yards on his other 23 passing attempts in the game as Duke punted nine times.

“We just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities like we usually do once we got the ball,” said running back Mataeo Durant, who gained 114 yards rushing against North Carolina.

Durant has cracked Duke’s rushing top 10 list (1,957 career yards), and with 68 yards would move up to eighth pace (passing Julius Grantham with 1,989 and Jela Duncan with 2,024). He has rushed for more than 100 yards in four games this season and eight times in his four-year career with the Blue Devils.

For Georgia Tech, even in the setback to Pitt, Yellow Jackets quarterback Jeff Sims threw for 359 yards, marking the most passing yards for a Tech player in nearly 20 years (George Godsey’s 486 vs. Virginia, Nov. 10, 2001).

Last November, Georgia Tech hammered Duke 56-33 in Atlanta with Sims throwing for three touchdowns. That marked only the second victory for the Yellow Jackets in the past seven meetings in the series.

The Yellow Jackets are 52-35-1 in the series.

–Field Level Media

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