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Tech tramples Blue Devils

ATLANTA - It took a while, but Georgia Tech kept rolling against Duke on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets' offense struggled to turn the yards they gained into points until the second half, but the defense gave freshman quarterback Jaybo Shaw a chance to settle down in his first start.

And settle down Shaw and the offense did, scoring 24 points in the second half while the defense shut down Duke for a 27-0 Tech victory before 46,104 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Shaw wound up with the best throwing day for any Tech quarterback making his first start, completing 9 of 13 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown. He broke the old mark of 202 yards set by Eddie McAshan against South Carolina in 1970.

All nine of Shaw's completions went to Demaryius Thomas, whose yardage was the second most ever by Jackets' receiver, trailing only Dez White's 243-yard effort against Virginia in 1998. White was, coincidentally, on hand as the honorary captain Saturday.

Those performances complemented another big day on the ground for Jonathan Dwyer - a career-high 159 yards on 23 carries - and a defensive effort that held Duke to just 132 total yards and kept Tech (4-1, 2-1) in control until the offense got on track.

"I was proud of our guys," Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "I thought we played hard. We didn't always play great, but I think you have to give Duke some credit. Defensively, we played, without question, our best game of the year. It was kind of a crazy game. We were moving the ball some, but we couldn't finish drives.

"I was proud of Jaybo as a true freshman to go out there and he made a couple of mistakes, but he took some shots and kept playing and threw the ball and made a couple of plays."

While Tech's offense had little trouble rolling up the yards in the early going, points were another matter.

The Jackets moved deep into Duke (3-2, 1-1) territory on their first two drives, but both came up empty - the first with a fumble on the Duke 8-yard line and the second when they were stopped on fourth-and-3 at the Blue Devil 30.

The third drive also made it into the red zone and ended better, but wasn't much more satisfying.

Tech settled for a 20-yard Scott Blair field goal for 3-0 lead heading into halftime.

Shaw knew he and the offense had to help out a defense that held Duke to just 49 yards of total offense in the first half.

"We hadn't played in two weeks, so maybe we were a little rusty," said Shaw. "We had to come out and settle down. ... (The defense) bailed us out in the first half. We had these long drives and drove down the field and we'd end up turning it over. ... It's real easy to quarterback this team when you've got a defense like we do."

The offense got a chance to settle down thanks to couple of second-chance opportunities after third-down penalties by Duke, the latter of which Tech turned into points.

A pass interference call on third-and-15 from the Blue Devils' 28 set the Jackets up with a first down on the 13. Roddy Jones converted three plays later with a 4-yard touchdown, extending the Jackets' lead to 10-0 with 3:59 left in the third quarter.

That score, and another Duke three-and-out by the stout Tech defense, opened the floodgates.

Tech took control at its own 47 on the next possession. A 36-yard run by Dwyer keyed a five-play, 53-yard drive that ended with Shaw's 2-yard score on the option on the first play of the fourth quarter, stretching the lead to 17-0.

The Jackets then put the game away by taking advantage of Duke's determination to stop their option running attack.

A Blue Devils defender fell down and allowed Thomas, known as Bay-Bay to his teammates, to go bye-bye. Shaw hit him in stride for an 88-yard scoring strike to push Tech's lead to 24-0 with 9:11 to play.

"It was on the boundary, and I knew (Duke was) going to play Cover 2," Thomas said. "The safety stayed on the hash the whole game, so I told my coach to give me a chance and it came. It felt like it took me a long time to get in the end zone.

"Duke was a good team and they had practiced against the option for a while. I guess I got tired of their coaches saying we didn't have a good receiver. So I had to show them we did have one."