Taking a closer look at Georgia Tech’s win over Duke

Georgia Tech wide receiver Adonicas Sanders (12) hauls in a pass for what proved to be the winning touchdown against Duke cornerback Jeremiah Lewis (39) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)
Caption
Georgia Tech wide receiver Adonicas Sanders (12) hauls in a pass for what proved to be the winning touchdown against Duke cornerback Jeremiah Lewis (39) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

Credit: AP

Georgia Tech ended a three-game losing streak at Wallace Wade Stadium with a come-from-behind 31-27 win over Duke on Saturday in Durham, N.C. The Yellow Jackets improved to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the ACC by winning a game in which they were outgained and outrushed and lost the turnover battle to Duke (3-3, 1-1), but, reversing a detrimental pattern, were superior in the red zone.

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Key play

With his team down 27-24 with a little less than a minute left in the game, Tech quarterback Jeff Sims found wide receiver Adonicas Sanders in the end zone for the game-winning 36-yard touchdown reception. Sanders made the catch despite Duke cornerback Jeremiah Lewis trying to bring him down and drawing a pass-interference penalty in the process.

Key stat

Sims had completed five of his previous 17 passes (including one touchdown and two interceptions) when he led the offense onto the field with 1:42 left in the game for the game-winning 88-yard touchdown drive. He was 4-for-5 for 79 yards and a touchdown on that series, along with a nine-yard scramble for a first down.

Key quote

“I knew on my release, I beat him off the ball, and he started holding, but I saw Jeff throw the ball and I just said, ‘I’ve got to do whatever it takes to come down with this football, and that’s what I did. I wasn’t worried about the holding call, I just knew when the ball was in the air, I had to make the play.” – Sanders

Key player

Tech linebacker Ayinde Eley led the Jackets with a season-high 13 tackles and two quarterback hurries. None was more important than his pressure of Duke quarterback Gunnar Holmberg on a third-and-goal from the Tech 4-yard line with a little more than five minutes remaining. Receiver Jalon Calhoun was open in the end zone after safety Wesley Walker had tripped, but Eley hurried Holmberg into an incompletion to limit Duke to a field goal and a 27-24 lead, giving the Jackets the chance to win the game with a touchdown.

Georgia Tech 31, Duke 27

What we learned

The Jackets can pull one out when all appears lost and when they’re not at their best. Of Tech’s nine wins in Collins’ tenure, this was the first in which the Jackets came from behind to win in the final five minutes of regulation. Further, Tech put together the drive after having gone three-and-out on the previous three possessions.

What’s next

After the win over Duke, Tech will enjoy its only open date of the season. The Jackets will return to action at Virginia on Oct. 23.

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