Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims ran for 95 yards and threw for 227 yards, and two touchdowns as the Yellow Jackets beat the Duke Blue Devils 23-20 at Bobby Dodd Stadium Saturday afternoon. With last Saturday’s 26-21 win at No. 24 Pitt, Georgia Tech has won consecutive games for the first time since back-to-back wins over Miami (27-21) and Virginia (30-27 in OT) on Nov. 10 and 17, 2018. Interim Head Coach Brent Key wanted everyone to know consistency breeds confidence.
“Yeah, and I know I keep saying the same thing over and over: But you know, confidence comes from preparation,” said Key. “And if you can prepare the way these guys have done, whether it be the coaches, or the players, it elevates that confidence in your confidence when you prepare the right way.”
Duke failed to establish any rhythm on offense as Georgia Tech’s defense stymied Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard. He completed 20 out of 42 passes for 139 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
However, Sahmir Hagans returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown with 5:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. Next, Georgia Tech wide receiver Nate McCollum was knocked out of the game with 5:45 remaining in the fourth quarter. He finished the day with eight receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown. From then on, the offense sputtered as Duke gained momentum.
Leonard threw his only touchdown pass which capped off a 14-play, 80 yard drive that took 2:33 off the clock, which was aided by four penalties by the Georgia Tech defense.
With the game tied at 20 and heading into overtime, Duke won the toss and deferred. Gavin Stewart nailed a 37 yard field goal which put Georgia Tech in the lead for good.
Brent Key became only the third Tech head coach in the last 55 years (since 1967) to win his first two games, joining Chan Gailey (2002) and Paul Johnson (2009). Prior to Gailey and Johnson, the last Tech head coach to win his first two games was Bud Carson in 1967.
Also, former Westlake High School standout Leo Blackburn had three catches for 49 yards including a 39 yard touchdown reception in Saturday’s game. Today was Blackburn’s first game after missing the entire 2021 season and the first five games of the 2022 season due to injury.
“And I told the guys in the locker room, ‘as messed up as it sounds, enjoy this feeling today then let’s forget it and let’s go back to knowing what it’s like to be the underdog and know why we’re here where we are.’”
Georgia Tech will return to action October 20th when they face Virginia under the lights at Bobby Dodd Stadium.