for this game

Duke knocks off No. 22 Georgia Tech

Oct 11, 2014 - 10:50 PM Atlanta, GA ( - Backup quarterback Thomas Sirk rushed for two short touchdowns and Duke beat Georgia Tech for the first time in 11 years, holding off the No. 22 Yellow Jackets 31-25 on Saturday.

The Blue Devils (5-1, 1-1 ACC) showed no rust after a thunderstorm sent the teams back inside for a 77-minute delay after halftime. They scored the only 10 points in the third quarter to build a 24-12 lead.

The Yellow Jackets (5-1, 2-1) had won 10 in a row in the series since a 41-17 loss in 2003.

They were trying to match the 2011 team's 6-0 record -- the only time the program has hit that mark in the last 48 years -- but fell down 31-12 after Justin Thomas was intercepted on consecutive possessions, leading to Sirk's second touchdown with 8:18 remaining.

Tim Byerly took over at quarterback for Thomas and led two scoring drives, running the ball into the end zone himself both times, but the Yellow Jackets failed to recover an onside kick after the second one and Duke ran out the clock.

"I think you have to give Duke credit. Their kids played hard and they made plays that they had to to win the game," said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. "I was disappointed in the way we played. We are not good enough to lose the turnover battle three to nothing to anybody and win the game."

Starter Anthony Boone threw for 123 yards with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Max McCaffrey and Josh Snead rushed for 102 yards and a score for Duke, which was coming off a bye.

Thomas completed just six of his 15 pass attempts for 61 yards but also ran for a game-high 119 on 15 scrambles. Byerly passed for 125 yards on seven completions in 10 attempts and Zach Laskey ran for 72 with a 4-yard score.

A thunderstorm that produced several lightning strikes in the area forced the teams -- and the crowd of 44,281 at Bobby Dodd Stadium -- inside before the second half started.

Laskey fumbled on the second play of the half and Duke turned it into a 4-yard touchdown run from Snead for a 21-12 lead.

After Harrison Butker missed a 52-yard field goal try for Georgia Tech, Ross Martin booted a 34-yarder to increase the Blue Devils lead to 12 points and Zavier Carmichael intercepted Thomas deep in Duke territory on the ensuing possession.

The Blue Devils failed to convert a 4th-and-1 after that, but got the ball back when Jeremy Cash picked Thomas off and took the ball back 21 yards to the Georgia Tech 23, leading to Sirk's 1-yard score for the 31-12 lead.

Byerly's first touchdown came on an 11-yard run with 5:04 left -- a two-point pass attempt failed -- and his 30-yard pass to Darren Waller kept their next drive alive, leading to his 1-yard score.

"It felt good, no question," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said of his first win over Georgia Tech. "I can only speak for the games we've had with them, and we haven't been successful at all for the most part. That always enters into it.

You say you don't think about it, but you do if you're honest. It's a difficult challenge, and the reason it's difficult to beat them is that they don't beat themselves. They do what they do very well. Today we were able to create three turnovers, which was significant."

Earlier, after Butker's 27-yard field goal ended Georgia Tech's first drive, Boone's 4-yard touchdown pass to McCaffrey over the middle gave Duke a 7-3 lead.

Butker added a 26-yarder early in the second quarter but Boone's 30-yard pass to McCaffrey set up Sirk's 3-yard touchdown run to stake the Blue Devils to a 14-6 lead.

Laskey's 4-yard score pulled Georgia Tech within 14-12, where it remained going into halftime after Laskey was stopped on the two-point conversion try.

Game Notes

Georgia Tech plays at North Carolina next week and Duke faces Virginia ... Georgia Tech was unbeaten in 1990 but had a tie against North Carolina in its sixth game ... The Yellow Jackets lost five of their last seven games in 2011.