Durham-born quarterback Lee takes Yellow Jackets on his back
by Joedy McCreary
Associated Press Sports Writer
September 15, 2013 12:57 AM | 914 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Playing in his hometown, against the hometown team that nearly landed him during the recruiting process, Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee accounted for all five Yellow Jacket touchdowns Saturday.
<BR>Associated Press photo
Playing in his hometown, against the hometown team that nearly landed him during the recruiting process, Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee accounted for all five Yellow Jacket touchdowns Saturday.
Associated Press photo
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DURHAM, N.C. — Vad Lee always seems to play like this around here.

Ted Roof’s teams almost never did.

Lee threw a career-high four touchdown passes and ran for another in his hometown, and Georgia Tech beat Duke 38-14 on Saturday.

The Durham native had scoring throws of 24 and 10 yards to converted baseball player DeAndre Smelter, 13 yards to former Harrison High School standout Robbie Godhigh and 19 yards to Zach Laskey.

“I would say it was probably the most emotional game because I know a lot of those guys,” said Lee.

Lee said his house is “literally 4 minutes down the road,” and he had about 70 people in the stands.

He ran 4 yards for a TD for the Yellow Jackets (2-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who fell behind 7-3 before turning it into a blowout by scoring the next four touchdowns.

Lee was 8-of-16 for 125 yards and added 76 yards rushing. Georgia Tech rolled up 344 yards rushing and 469 total yards against the No. 6 total defense in the Bowl Subdivision.

“They came out in new sets, things that we hadn’t practiced against, things that we hadn’t seen,” Duke defensive end Kenny Anunike said. “We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to hold it down. We didn’t get it done today.”

Jela Duncan rushed 1 yard for an early score for the Blue Devils (2-1, 0-1) and Brandon Connette had a late 7-yard TD run and was 15-of-28 for 122 yards in his first start as Duke’s full-time quarterback.

Duke was denied both its first victory over Georgia Tech since 2003 — when Roof, the Yellow Jackets’ current defensive coordinator, was their interim head coach — and its first 3-0 start since 1994.

“We know that we’re better than the way we played on the field,” Connette said. “You’re more capable than what was shown out there and how we played. It’s not really disappointing — it’s a frustrating feeling right now.”

Roof, fired by Duke in 2007 after going 6-45 in 4½ seasons and losing his last 16 home games, walked away from Wallace Wade Stadium a winner for the first time since 2005.

And he left with a tough defense that has allowed two touchdowns all season and held Duke to a season-low-by-far 254 total yards.

Lee put Georgia Tech up 24-7 after a 30-minute span in which half of his completions went for touchdowns to Smelter.

He gave the Yellow Jackets a 17-7 lead when he hit Smelter for a 24-yard score on third-and-12 with 10:05 left in the second.

They hooked up again with 42 seconds left in the half. Lee ran the 2-minute drill to perfection, moving Georgia Tech quickly downfield before his 10-yard throw to Smelter at the pylon put Georgia Tech up by 17.

He capped the Yellow Jackets’ opening drive of the second half with his scoring pass to Godhigh to make it 31-7, then capped his day by throwing his TD to Laskey with 2:10 left.

“He made some plays,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “It’s going to be a process. He’s growing, he’s in a different situation and there’s going to be some good and some bad.”

Lee, the state’s 2010 Associated Press high school player of the year at Durham Hillside High, once again found the end zone with relative ease in the North Carolina Triangle: In two games here, he has accounted for eight touchdowns.

He ran for two scores and threw for another in last year’s 68-50 win at North Carolina — the highest-scoring game in ACC history — and for a short while early in this one, it certainly looked like a repeat of that one: The lead changed hands on three consecutive early possessions.

Godhigh’s 44-yard run to the Duke 4 set up Lee’s touchdown on an option keeper that put the Yellow Jackets up 10-7 with 6:04 left in the first. Afterward, he said he flashed the “Bull City” hand sign in the end zone for his family.

That came after Duncan powered in from 1 yard out to briefly put Duke up 7-3. Harrison Butker’s 49-yard field goal roughly 3 minutes in gave Tech a 3-0 lead.
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