1939 Season

1939-11-04 – Georgia Tech vs. Duke

Georgia Tech vs. Duke - 1939

Georgia Tech vs. Duke – November 4, 1939

Duke: 7
Georgia Tech: 6

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets had won three straight games since dropping the season opener at Notre Dame and would face a 4-1 Duke team that was ranked 15th in the AP poll. The Blue Devils’ only loss had come three weeks prior at Pittsburgh.

The game did not begin well for the Jackets. After returning the kickoff to the 29 yard line, Howard Ector burst for 9 yards on first down. On 2nd and 1, trying to catch Duke off guard, Johnny Bosch attempted a quick kick. The plan backfired, however, when the kick came off low, directly into the players at the line of scrimmage. Duke recovered at the Yellow Jacket 36 yard line. Having gained all of the momentum, Duke’s first play exploded for 16 yards on a run by George McAfee, giving the Blue Devils a first down at the Tech 19 yard line. The remainder of the drive was very methodical as the Blue Devils marched into the end zone on seven straight running plays. The drive was capped off with a 5 yard touchdown run by Roger Robinson, giving Duke an early 7-0 advantage.

The remainder of the first and most of the second quarters saw very little action. Neither team threatened to score as the squads battled for field position. The most exciting play during this stretch occurred after the Jackets fair caught a Duke punt at the Tech 17 yard line during the second quarter. Being pinned deep in his own territory, coach Alexander elected to take a free kick, which Neil Cavette booted 73 yards to the Duke 10 yard line. The kick was returned to the Duke 37, but the move helped sway the field position battle back towards the Yellow Jackets.

After another unsuccessful drive by each team, Tech was punting again to the Blue Devils. After Duke returned the ball to their own 22, Tech caught a break when George McAfee fumbled on the first play of the drive. The ball was recovered by Tech at the Blue Devil 18 yard line with 3 minutes left in the half. Tech’s first play went for 12 yards on a pass from R.E. Beers to C.P. Goree, advancing the ball to the Duke 6 yard line. After a failed run and an incomplete pass, Beers completed a 6 yard pass to Bartlett for the Touchdown. Tech would miss the extra point, however, and remain trailing 6-7 at half time.

The third quarter remained a defensive battle in which neither team threatened to score. Late in the quarter, however, Duke intercepted a Tech pass at the Yellow Jacket 42 yard line and returned the ball to the Tech 30. The quarter expired after the Blue Devils gained just 1 yard on the first two plays of the drive. Tech caught a break on the third play when Wes McAfee’s fumble was recovered by A.M. Muerth at the Yellow Jacket 39.

As the teams continued to exchange punts during the fourth quarter, Tech’s chances at victory were beginning to look grim. But the Yellow Jackets surged late. After taking over at their own 23 yard line, Tech drove 61 yards on 11 plays to advance to the Duke 17. After several incomplete passes, Tech chose to position the ball in the middle of the field for a go-ahead field goal attempt with 1:10 remaining. Gene Shaw’s 36 yard drop kick attempt missed short, and the Blue Devils took over with an ensured victory in hand. Duke would run out the clock to end the game.

Troy, Jack. “Jack Troy’s Tech-Duke Running Story.” The Atlanta Constitution. 1939 Nov. 5

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