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Johnson stands by QB after loss
Duke Georgia Tech  Fo Heal WEB
Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas (5) fumbles the ball as he is tackled by Duke safety Deondre Singleton (33) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in Atlanta. Duke won 31-25. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) - photo by Associated Press

Georgia Tech (5-1, 2-1) at North Carolina (2-4, 0-2)
7 p.m., Saturday

    ATLANTA — Georgia Tech's first loss of the season still stings.
    Coach Paul Johnson said "you don't get a re-do" and the Yellow Jackets must move past last week's 31-25 home loss to Duke. Even so, on Tuesday he was still bemoaning his team's mistakes, including three turnovers, in the game.
    "It's amazing we had a chance to be in the game and win the game," Johnson said.
    Georgia Tech (5-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) fell out of the Top 25 after one week in the poll.
    The Yellow Jackets will play at North Carolina on Saturday night as they try to remain near the top of the ACC's Coastal Division race.
    Johnson said he has "all the confidence" in quarterback Justin Thomas, who threw two interceptions against Duke. It was a rare poor game for Thomas, who threw only one interception in the 5-0 start. Georgia Tech led the ACC in turnover ratio before the loss.
    One of the interceptions came deep in Duke territory as Thomas tried to play through an ankle injury.
    "He shot-putted that one," Johnson said. "That's not him. I'm thinking that's because he couldn't push off his ankle."
    The second interception came as Thomas tried to throw the ball out of bounds.
    "You have to have better judgment," Johnson said. "I think he was disappointed with it. I don't think you'll see it again. He knows better than that."
    Tim Byerly ran for two touchdowns after taking over for Thomas last week. Johnson stressed that Thomas is his starter but Byerly could see more playing time.
    Each quarterback has been effective. Thomas, a sophomore in his first season as the starter, leads Georgia Tech with 599 yards rushing. Byerly leads the team with five rushing touchdowns.

Byerly (6-0, 212) plays like a physical running back while the smaller Thomas (5-11, 189) has the speed to be dangerous in the spread-option offense.

"I've said all along I'm a big Tim Byerly fan," Johnson said. "I love the kid. I think he plays hard. He's got tremendous toughness and savvy. There might be situations where we put him in the game, but Justin is our quarterback."

Johnson said Thomas "has the skill set we're looking for, not that Timmy doesn't, but he's different. ... When I say I've got confidence in him, I don't have any doubt he needs to be our quarterback."

This could be a good bounce-back week for Thomas and the Georgia Tech offense. North Carolina (4-3, 0-3) ranks last in the ACC in total defense and scoring defense. The Tar Heels give up an average of 43.3 points per game — about 15 points per game more than North Carolina State (28.7), the league's next-worst defense.

Senior linebacker Quayshawn Nealy, a team captain, said he is reminding his teammates last week's loss didn't end the team's ACC championship hopes.

"Definitely my role is to encourage guys to keep their heads up," Nealy said. "We're still great in the standings and in good position right now."