DURHAM, N.C. -- Every time Georgia Tech needed a big play, Tevin Washington delivered -- both with his feet and his arm.
Washington accounted for 321 total yards and had a pivotal 39-yard touchdown run that helped the Yellow Jackets hold on for a wild 38-31 victory over Duke on Saturday.
He rushed for 136 yards and added 185 through the air on 6-of-13 passing for Georgia Tech (8-3, 5-3 ACC). The Yellow Jackets rolled up 549 total yards, scored on four straight possessions and held off Duke’s late charge to win for just the second time in 1½ months and clinch their third eight-win season in four years under head coach Paul Johnson.
“At times, it wasn’t always perfect,” Washington said. “This wasn’t always good at times. But the end result, we finished out strong, we got the win, we got the results we came here for.”
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Sean Renfree matched a career high with four touchdown passes for the Blue Devils (3-8, 1-6). His 10-yard touchdown to Cooper Helfet -- his second scoring pass to the tight end -- pulled Duke within seven points with 6:37 left.
Duke forced a fumble from Charles Perkins and took over at its 34 with 3:44 left. Renfree threw deep down the sideline for Helfet, and Jamea Thomas -- whose pass interference penalty two series earlier kept alive a Duke touchdown drive -- jumped in front of the pass and picked it off with 2:20 left. Georgia Tech then ran out the clock to seal their eighth straight win in the series.
“The first time I got the pass interference, I was trying to play the hands,” Thomas said. “So this time, when I got in position, I decided to just look back, and when I looked back, the ball was coming.”
Renfree finished 26-of-42 for 250 yards with touchdown passes covering 15 yards to Conner Vernon, 12 yards to Donovan Varner and 3 yards to Helfet for Duke, which lost its sixth straight.
“We don’t have moral victories,” head coach David Cutcliffe said. “But it’s important that you play about as well as you can play. What I saw out there on the field and on the sideline ... That was totally a team effort of focus and competitiveness and a valiant effort. It’s a great statement and a legacy that our seniors have left us here. We’ve brought it every time we’ve come to play.”
Washington showed once again just how capable he is of coming up with big plays both with his feet and his arm. He broke a pair of tackles during his long scoring run, which came three minutes after Duke had pulled within 31-24. Four of his completions covered at least 29 yards.
“I just tried to keep my feet moving,” Washington said. “A couple of guys tried to wrap me up, but nobody really took me to the ground.”
David Sims had scoring runs of 4 yards and 1 yard, while Roddy Jones and Embry Peeples had 1-yard touchdown runs for the Yellow Jackets, who entered having lost three of four -- including an 11-point loss to Virginia Tech that took them out of the Coastal Division race.
Georgia Tech looked to have taken control of this one by scoring on its final four possessions of the first half. None of those drives took longer than 5½ minutes.
Sims powered in from 4 yards out to tie it at 7. One series later, Washington hit Tyler Melton for 31 yards and raced 21 yards to set up Jones’ short scoring run that put the Yellow Jackets ahead to stay.
Washington’s 46-yard pass to Embry Peeples then set up Sims’ second touchdown run to make it 21-7 barely three minutes into the second quarter. After Duke pulled within a touchdown, Washington lofted a 56-yard pass to Stephen Hill that set up Peeples’ touchdown on the final play of the half to make it 28-14.
“After the first couple of possessions, it kind of became tough to get a stop,” Johnson said.
Duke wasted no time jumping out to a 7-0 lead, with receiver Donovan Varner taking a sweep 39 yards through the Georgia Tech defense to the 20. Three plays later, Renfree found Vernon over the middle for the receiver’s sixth touchdown this season. His touchdown pass to Varner on fourth-and-3 pulled the Blue Devils to 21-14 with 5:24 left before halftime.
Will Snyderwine kicked a 35-yard field goal 5½ minutes into the third quarter to make it 28-17. Justin Moore countered with a 25-yard field goal with just under 2 minutes left in the third to put the Yellow Jackets back up by 14.