October 07, 2014

While it's been almost three years since Georgia Tech was last ranked, its dominance over Duke goes back much further.

The No. 22 Yellow Jackets look to improve to 6-0 for the second time in four seasons Saturday with an 11th straight victory over the visiting Blue Devils in an ACC matchup

Zach Laskey rushed for 133 yards and Georgia Tech (5-0, 2-0) allowed only a field goal in the second half to snap a five-game skid versus Miami with a 28-17 win last Saturday.

The victory helped propel the Yellow Jackets into the Top 25 for the first time since they were ranked 25th the week of Nov. 20, 2011. That also was the last season they opened 6-0.

"We're getting better every week," coach Paul Johnson said. "That's what you hope that you can do."

Paced by option quarterback Justin Thomas (6.0 yards per carry) and Laskey (5.0 ypc), Georgia Tech ranks 11th in the FBS averaging 297.2 yards on the ground. The Yellow Jackets proved last weekend just how hard it is contain both at the same time.

Thomas, who rushed for 302 yards in the previous two contests, was held to 27 on 13 carries while Laskey matched a career high in his first 100-yard rushing game since recording 133 at Virginia on Oct. 26.

"(Laskey) made some nice runs," Johnson said. "They had decided that they were not going to let Justin carry the ball. And it's OK. If everybody does what they're supposed to, then the other facet should be there."

When it's counted the most in ACC play, Georgia Tech has proved tough defensively by allowing 11 second-half points against Virginia Tech and Miami.

"There's really nothing different," safety Jamal Golden said. "It's just a matter of overlapping each other with great effort. One person busts and then you have 10 other guys running to the ball and you kind of don't notice the bust.

"It's not that we are doing anything different, we're just playing better."

Georgia Tech has allowed seven points in the second half in each of the last two meetings with Duke (4-1, 0-1), and has won the last 10 in the series by an average of 21.2 points.

The Blue Devils, whose only series victory in the last 19 meetings came in 2003 when current Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof was their interim coach, have come as close as 10 points while dropping nine straight road contests to the Yellow Jackets.

Coach David Cutcliffe certainly understands the challenge that awaits the Blue Devils, who have allowed an average of 212.0 rushing yards in the last three games. They gave up 155 yards on the ground to Miami's Duke Johnson in a 22-10 loss Sept. 27 in their most recent game.

"I'm a believer in what (the Yellow Jackets do) and they do it very well," Cutcliffe told Duke's official website. "You're not ever going to stop them from running the ball, but what you can do is slow them down and stop the big explosive play."

The Blue Devils also must be aware of Georgia Tech receiver DeAndre Smelter, who caught a pair of TD passes in last season's 38-14 victory at Duke.

Though Smelter did not catch a pass in a game for the second time this season last weekend, his coach is eager to get the senior back into the mix.

"I told him after the (Miami) game he'll get his turn," Paul Johnson said of Smelter, who has 14 receptions for 339 yards and four TDs in 2014.

"There were some things maybe in the passing game that we could have done. I thought it was more important that we try to run the clock and keep them off the field."

After going without a turnover in the first three games, Duke has committed five in the last two contests. Senior Anthony Boone has thrown three interceptions without a touchdown in those two after tossing seven TD passes without a pick in the first three.

Though Duke has had its problems with Georgia Tech, it won 13-10 at then-No. 16 Virginia Tech on Oct. 26 for its first road victory over a ranked opponent since 1971.

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