Oct. 29, 2016
ATLANTA (AP) Justin Thomas ran and threw for a combined 459 yards with four touchdowns and Georgia Tech recovered after blowing a three-touchdown lead to beat Duke 38-35 on Saturday.
Thomas finally secured the win with a 50-yard run, weaving through Duke defenders, on a third-and-17 play from the Georgia Tech 21 with less than 2 minutes remaining. He slid to a stop and then added some swagger to his stride as he rejoined his teammates.
”It’s just me trying to be aggressive,” said Thomas of his big day.
Thomas ran for 195 yards with two touchdowns and threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns to become the first Georgia Tech player with 400 yards of total offense since George Godsey’s school-record 477 yards against Virginia in 2001.
”Hats off to Justin Thomas,” said Duke linebacker Ben Humphreys. ”It’s probably the best game he’s had in his career. Watching on film, he’s a different player in person.”
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said Duke’s defense forced Thomas to keep the ball on option plays.
”I thought he played very well today,” Johnson said. ”He made plays.”
Georgia Tech (5-3, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) snapped a streak of two straight losses to Duke (3-5, 0-4).
Duke running back Jela Duncan, who ran for two touchdowns, suffered a lower leg injury that could end his season, according to coach David Cutcliffe.
After trailing 28-7 at halftime, Duke took advantage of two Georgia Tech turnovers and a fourth-down stop to score 28 of the next 31 points for a 35-31 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Daniel Jones’ 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Daniel Helm gave the Blue Devils the lead.
Thomas and the Yellow Jackets had a quick answer. Thomas was chased out of the Georgia Tech end zone for a 46-yard run before completing a 21-yard touchdown pass to Clinton Lynch.
FOURTH AND NONE: No team has converted a fourth down on Duke’s defense this season. Add Georgia Tech to the list after Marcus Allen was stopped on a fourth-and-1 run early in the fourth quarter. It was the ninth straight fourth-down stop for Duke. Georgia Tech’s offense is 8 for 15 on fourth-down conversions.
Duke: The Blue Devils showed heart in not giving up after it appeared Georgia Tech put the game away in the first half. Though overshadowed by Thomas, Jones also posted big numbers as he passed for 305 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 73 yards. But the Blue Devils couldn’t overcome three first-half turnovers, including Duncan’s two lost fumbles.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets were hurt by their inability to make a third-down stop, a continued problem that stands in the way of Georgia Tech’s hopes of competing for the Coastal Division title. Georgia Tech is last in the ACC in third-down defense and Duke was successful on eight of 13 third downs. Georgia Tech allowed a season-high 559 yards.
Duke: The Blue Devils will try again for their first ACC win when they return to Durham to play No. 25 Virginia Tech next Saturday.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets begin a stretch of two straight road games against Top 25 teams when they play at No. 21 North Carolina next week.
- Georgia Tech moved to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in ACC play with its second-straight win. Duke fell to 3-5 overall and 0-4 in ACC play.
- With four regular-season games to play, Georgia Tech is one win away from becoming bowl eligible for the 19th time in the last 20 seasons.
- With the win, Georgia Tech snapped a two-game losing streak against Duke.
- Georgia Tech moved to 51-32-1 overall and 29-13-1 at home all-time against Duke.
- Georgia Tech moved to 52-15-1 all-time on homecoming. The Yellow Jackets have won four-straight, seven of their last eight and 19 of their last 21 homecoming contests at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
- Georgia Tech allowed a season-high 559 yards (prev.: 442 vs. Clemson — Sept. 22) but also matched a season high with three takeaways (prev.: vs. Boston College — Sept. 3).
- Georgia Tech forced two fumbles (one by senior defensive tackle Patrick Gamble in the first quarter, one by sophomore safety A.J. Gray in the second quarter), which matched its season total for forced fumbles going in to the game.
- With a 50-yard pass to Brad Stewart on the third play of the game, Georgia Tech senior quarterback Justin Thomas became the 39th player in NCAA Division I FBS history with 4,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards in a career. Thomas is the fourth ACC player to accomplish the feat, joining Clemson’s Woodrow Dantzler (1998-2001), Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor (2007-10) and North Carolina’s Marquise Williams (2012-15).
- Thomas finished with 264 passing yards and 195 rushing yards, marking the first time that he had 100-plus passing yards and 100-plus rushing yards in the same game since he had 121 passing yards and 125 rushing yards in Georgia Tech’s 49-34 win over Mississippi State in the 2014 Orange Bowl (Dec. 31, 2014).
- Thomas’ 459 yards of total offense were a career high, surpassing the 353 that he amassed in his first-career start versus Wofford on Aug. 30, 2014, and the most by a Yellow Jacket since George Godsey had a school-record 477 yards in a 39-38 loss to Virginia on Nov. 10, 2001.
- Thomas’ 459 yards of total offense was good for the third-highest single-game total in Georgia Tech history (477 – Godsey; 474 – Joe Hamilton vs. Maryland, Sept. 30, 1999).
- According to the ACC and sports-reference.com, Thomas is only the fourth FBS player since 2000 with at least 190 rushing yards, 250 passing yards, two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns in a game, joining Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El (Oct. 21, 2000 vs. Minnesota), Michigan’s Denard Robinson (Oct. 2, 2010 vs. Indiana) and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (Jan. 4, 2013 vs. Oklahoma).
- Thomas’ 276.97 quarterback efficiency was a career high (prev.: 275.25 vs. Wofford – Aug. 30, 2014) and the third-highest in school history (312.80 – Tevin Washington, Sept. 1, 2011 vs. Western Carolina; 289.80 – Joshua Nesbitt, Nov. 14, 2009 at Duke).
- Thomas’ 195 rushing yards were a career high (prev.: 165 at Virginia Tech — Sept. 20, 2014).
- Thomas accounted for four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing), marking the 10th time in his career that he rushed and passed for touchdowns in the same game, which ranks third in school history (record: 12 — Joe Hamilton, 1996-99).
- Thomas’ 82-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the longest run of his career (prev.: 65 yds. vs. Clemson — Nov. 15, 2004) and Georgia Tech’s longest play from scrimmage this season (prev.: Thomas’ 81-yard TD pass to Marcus Marshall on the first play off the game vs. Vanderbilt on Sept. 17).
- Junior wide receiver Ricky Jeune, caught three passes for a season-high 85 yards (prev.: 57 yds. vs. Mercer — Sept. 10).
- Stewart set a new career high with 70 receiving yards (prev.: 46 at Pittsburgh — Oct. 8) and matched a career high with three receptions (previously accomplished twice, most recently at Pitt).
- Stewart’s 50-yard reception from Thomas on the third play of the game was the longest of his career and the longest by a Georgia Tech wide receiver this season (Stewart’s 40-yard catch against Georgia Southern on Oct. 15 previously held both distinctions).
— Sharon Katz (@skatz23) October 29, 2016