Duke Football history was made on Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg, Virginia. The unranked Blue Devils pulled off an improbable upset against the #14 Virginia Tech Hokies, prevailing 13-10. The win marked Duke’s first against a ranked opponent since 1994, and their first on the road since 1971. Coach David Cutcliffe was hugged by his players and coaches as time expired on one of the grittiest wins of the Cutcliffe era.
Duke pulled off the upset despite watching their offense finish 0 for 11 on 3rd down and throw 4 interceptions. DC Jim Knowles and his defense kept Logan Thomas and the Hokies at bay all afternoon, coming up with key stops in the red zone on multiple drives. David Helton led the way for the Duke defense with 19 tackles, alongside Kelby Brown who finished with 14 and an interception.
Both offenses struggled mightily in the first half, as Thomas and Boone combined for 5 interceptions and just 15 completions. Thanks to two long field goals (51 and 53 yards) by Ross Martin, the Blue Devils took a 6-0 lead into halftime. The Blue Devils squandered several opportunities early in the game, as the Virginia Tech defense pressured Boone into a number of poor throws.
Both offenses found some momentum in the 3rd quarter, and Duke reached the end zone first, as Anthony Boone scampered into the end zone to put the Blue Devils up 13-0 in the third quarter. The run capped a 6-play, 63 yard drive that was helped by two Virginia Tech penalties in the secondary.
Thomas and the Hokies responded, however. After a Will Monday punt was downed at the Virginia Tech 1-yard line, Thomas found Demitri Knowles down the sideline in single coverage for a 56-yard gain. The Hokies finished the drive with a Thomas TD run to climb within 6.
The Blue Devils held a 13-7 lead as the game entered the 4th, but on the first play of the final quarter, Boone was sacked at the 3-yard line and left the game briefly. After a Cody Journell 42-yard field goal, the Blue Devils still were clinging to a 13-10 lead before the game took a number of critical turns. DeVon Edwards fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which was fortunate to be recovered by Duke’s David Reeves. After a botched snap led to a sack at their own 8 yard line, Boone threw his 4th interception of the day. The Hokies took over at the Duke 43 yard line and drove 20 yards, but it wasn’t enough, as Journell’s 40-yard attempt was wide left. Duke again went 3 and out, leaving the game again in the hands of their defense.
Thomas and the Hokies began the game’s critical drive at their own 44 yard line with 5:09 remaining. After a 1st down run, Kelby Brown fell on a tipped pass for the defense’s 3rd interception of the day. The Duke offense took over near midfield. Facing a critical 3rd and 7, Boone scampered for what was ruled as a 1st down on the field, but overturned by video review. The short-yardage specialist, Brandon Connette, spun for the first down on the ensuing 4th down play, essentially sealing bowl eligibility for the 2013 Blue Devils. After the Hokies’ spent their final timeout, Boone lined up in victory formation to run out the clock.
Boone finished the day just 7/25 for 107 yards, but added 44 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Duke heads into the bye week at 6-2, and will host NC State on November 9th in their next ACC matchup.