Tough defense drops Vanderbilt 10 – 7

[private]Chris Rwabukamba intercepted a Mackenzie Adams pass at the one yard line with 46 seconds left in the game to thwart a Vanderbilt comeback attempt and preserve a 10 – 7 Duke victory. With the road victory, the Blue Devils improve to 4 – 3 on the year and end a six game losing streak against the Commodores. For Coach David Cutcliffe, it is his first road victory since taking over the helm at Duke.

Duke was unable to capitalize on Vanderbilt mistakes throughout the game. Michael Tauiliili intercepted Adams on Vanderbilt’s third play from scrimmage but Duke fumbled the snap on a field goal attempt and came away with zero points. Just before halftime, Duke blocked a Vanderbilt punt and took possession on the Commodores 13 yard line. A fumbled snap and penalty on the offense were followed by a missed 43 field goal attempt. In the third quarter, Vanderbilt fumbled a punt resulting in Duke starting off from the Vanderbilt 15 yard line. Duke failed to move the ball as Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis was sacked but this time Nick Maggio converted the field goal and Duke expanded their lead to 10 – 0.

Duke’s defense shutdown Vanderbilt’s offense for most of the game with the Commodores only points coming on a 79 yard pass from Adams to wide receiver Sean Walker. For the game, Duke held Vanderbilt to 291 total yards and held the Commodores to 81 rushing yards. Duke was able to consistently pressure Quarterback Adams sacking him four times to compliment the two interceptions.

On offense, Duke achieved success with the short pass play. Thaddeus Lewis was 21 – 36 for 222 yards and a touchdown. Four Blue Devils caught multiple passes: Eron Riley caught nine passes for 83 yards, Johnny Williams caught four for 39 yards, Tony Jackson caught three for 74 yards and a touchdown, and Donovan Varner caught two for 12 yards. Duke struggled to run the ball and was held to 28 yards on the ground. Thaddeus Lewis was sacked five times for 37 yards with the yards being counted against the running game.

This was a big win for the Duke football team. With five games remaining the Blue Devils need at least two more wins and possibly three wins in order to secure a bid to a post season bowl game. If Duke is going to win those two or three more games this season, they must continue to improve week-to-week. The red zone offense is one area where Duke struggled today and Coach Cutcliffe will certainly address that issue in practice this week.

Next up for the Blue Devils is a trip to Winston-Salem to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3). Duke has not won a conference game on the road since beating North Carolina 30 -22 on November 22, 2003. Duke has already broken a couple of streaks this season and they will be looking to end the road conference game losing streak against Wake Forest next Saturday.[/private]