DURHAM, N.C. - Georgia Tech only enforced Saturday what it already knew: It knows how to beat up a bad football team.
The biggest question the 17th-ranked Yellow Jackets still have yet to answer is this: Can they beat a good football team?
They will find out Thursday night at home against 25th-ranked and undefeated Maryland.
Georgia Tech rebounded from last week's stunning overtime loss to Clemson with a 37-10 thrashing of hapless Duke. Three of Tech's four victories this year now have come against two winless Division I programs and a Division I-AA team.
Saturday's effort at dreary Wallace Wade Stadium was hardly stellar. But it didn't need to be. Even with two turnovers and a sluggish first half start, the Yellow Jackets rolled for 505 total yards.
Quarterback George Godsey completed 24 of 40 passes for 295 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Kerry Watkins, but his two first half interceptions allowed the 0-5 Blue Devils to hang close at halftime, 17-10.
But the Yellow Jackets, now 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, played with a greater purpose in the second half. They out-scored Duke 20-0 in the second half, and held the Blue Devils to 73 total yards after intermission, including minus-12 yards in the third quarter.
"We didn't play as well as we wanted, but we still put up 37," Godsey said. "The conditions weren't ideal. As bad as we played, we still put up a lot of points. That's encouraging."
And it makes Thursday night's game against Maryland even more intriguing. The Terrapins not only are coached by former Tech offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen, but they bring a 3-0 record in the ACC.
The Yellow Jackets never trailed, but it got interesting in the final minute before halftime. Godsey and Watkins hooked up on a 15-yard touchdown pass with 4:01 remaining in the first quarter, then Luke Manget was good on his first of four point after touchdowns kicks to make it 7-0.
Joe Burns, who rushed for 122 yards, made it 14-0 with 13:32 remaining in the first half on a 17-yard run up the middle and Manget extended the cushion to 17 points with a 43-yard field goal.
Duke stormed back with a 1-yard Chris Douglas run late in the first half. The Blue Devils got the ball back on Ronnie Hamilton's interception at the Duke 47. D. Bryant threw a 46-yard completion to Mike Hart for a first-and-goal at the Georgia Tech 7.
The Yellow Jackets defense recaptured the momentum, however, with a stand that resulted in minimal damage - a 30-yard Brent Garber field goal.
"We missed a couple plays and some gaps and Duke took advantage of them," Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary said. "I thought the key was when they got that pick and we held them to three (points) instead of seven. I thought that was big going into the half.
"I thought (Duke) made plays and that's going to happen in a game. But I thought when we had to make a play on defense, we made it."
Duke never had a chance after halftime. In fact, the Blue Devils only had one first down in the second half.
"They're an athletic defense," said Duke coach Carl Franks. "I told coach O'Leary before the game I think it's the best defense they've had since I've been here. But I didn't think we'd get overpowered and not be able to run or throw. Georgia Tech got after it in the second half."
The Yellow Jackets got field goals of 26 and 27 yards by Manget in the second half, as well as a 15-yard Watkins reception and a 1-yard Burns run for touchdowns.
"The game plan was there and the game plan was good," Godsey said. "We just kept doing the same stuff in the second half, but it's a matter of executing."
Georgia Tech 37, Duke 10
Who shined: Joe Burns rushed for 100 yards for the eighth time in his career with a 122-yard, two-touchdown performance.
What worked: The defense, which held the Blue Devils to 73 total yards in the second half, one first down and no points.
What didn't: The offense in the first half, which gave up two turnovers in a sluggish performance that allowed Duke to stay in the game for 30 minutes.
What's next: Georgia Tech plays host to Maryland at home Thursday night at 7:30.
Reach Don Coble at firstname.lastname@example.org
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