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October 15, 2005

Upset bid collapses

For 52 minutes of Saturday's game against Georgia Tech, Duke outscored the Yellow Jackets 10-7.

It was the other eight minutes that went terribly wrong for Ted Roof's team.

Leading 10-7 at halftime, Duke surrendered 28 unanswered points to Georgia Tech in rapid succession in the third quarter, and the Blue Devils couldn't muster any offense in an attempt to fight back, losing by a 35-10 count.

The first half looked to be the start to a perfect upset recipe. Duke's defense had forced a couple of turnovers and the offense had taken advantage of two big special teams errors by the Yellow Jackets to flip field position and score 10 points.

Duke fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter but came back to the tie the game in the second when the Devils forced Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball to fumble at the end of a scramble. Casey Camero recovered it to give the Devils great field position near midfield.

That's when great execution on a reverse end around sparked the Duke offense, as Ronnie Drummer took a reverse handoff and sprinted down the right sideline for 50 yards, setting up a five yard touchdown toss from Zack Asack to Andy Roland to get the game even.

Georgia Tech's second roughing the punter penalty of the half set up Duke's final points.

The penalty gave Duke new life after going nowhere for three plays. Asack then promptly connected with freshman Eron Riley, who made an acrobatic grab on the right sideline for a 38-yard gain.

Joe Surgan's 23-yard field goal put Duke ahead entering the locker room.

It all unraveled in a hurry in the third quarter. Duke went backwards on the opening drive, and a short punt from Chris Sprague set the Yellow Jackets up with great field position.

Six plays later, Georgia Tech got the lead on Ball's one yard touchdown plunge.

Asack started the next Duke series by throwing an interception on the first play to Tech linebacker Philip Wheeler.

With another short field to work with, Tech moved down inside the five yard line, thanks in large part to a pair of 15-yard penalties against Duke for a personal foul and roughing the passer.

The Duke defense stiffened, making a great goal line stand as Phillip Alexander and Michael Brown turned back Ball on a fourth-and-goal quarterback sneak from inside the one yard line.

Momentum was Duke's for a very fleeting moment, as the offense made a horrendous error when Asack fumbled the snap on the one yard line on the first play of the ensuing Duke drive. Tech safety Dawan Landry ended up with the ball, and Duke's defense couldn't stop them again.

The third score of the quarter came when Tech's Darrell Robertson picked off an Asack pass on an out pattern to the right side of the field and sprinted 28 yards for the score.

Just more than three minutes later, Tashard Choice made it 35-10 with a one yard run.

27 plays, three Duke turnovers, four Yellow Jacket touchdowns.

What looked like a developing upset chance became another blowout loss in ACC play for Duke, their fourth league loss. In those four games the Devils have been outscored by a combined 170-24, and the 25 point margin of defeat today was the lowest of the four setbacks.

Devils Illustrated will have more postgame coverage soon.



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