Tag Archives: Duke-Miami Football

Miami ends Duke’s bowl hopes with a 34-16 win

Devils fall short in Miami and turn their attenton to Wake in an effort to finish the season at .500
Devils fall short in Miami and turn their attenton to Wake in an effort to finish the season at .500

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.Thaddeus Lewis became Duke’s all-time leading passer, but it wasn’t enough as the Blue Devils fell to No. 20 Miami, 34-16, in front of 38,200 fans at Land Shark Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Duke falls to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in ACC play, while Miami improves to 8-3 overall and 5-3 in the conference.

Early in the fourth quarter, Lewis threw an eight-yard pass to Austin Kelly to move past Ben Bennett on Duke’s all-time passing yardage list.  Bennett threw for 9,614 career yards from 1980-83.  With one game remaining in his collegiate career, Lewis has 9,678 yards – a total that ranks third best in ACC history trailing only N.C. State’s Philip Rivers (13,484) and Florida State’s Chris Weinke (9,839).

Miami scored the game’s final 24 points for the win on Saturday as Duke dropped to 8-1 under head coach David Cutcliffe when leading after three quarters.  Heading into the fourth period, the Blue Devils led by three points, 16-13, before the Hurricanes scored three touchdowns to account for the final margin.

The Blue Devils claimed a 3-0 lead just over nine minutes into the contest when Will Snyderwine booted a 30-yard field goal.  The five-play, 68-yard scoring drive was set up by Vincent Rey‘s second interception of the year and highlighted by a 64-yard pass from Thaddeus Lewis to Donovan Varner down the right sideline.  Miami countered with a 33-yard field goal from Matt Bosher to tie the game at the 1:25 mark of the opening period.

Desmond Scott‘s 47-yard kickoff return set up Snyderwine’s second successful field goal of the day, a 49-yard effort that pushed Duke back ahead, 6-3, with 14:50 left in the second quarter.

Miami took its first lead of the afternoon at the 4:50 mark of the second period when Jacory Harris hooked up with Tervaris Johnson for a five-yard scoring pass.  The touchdown capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive that took 4:52 off the clock.  Duke responded immediately as Lewis engineered an eight-snap, 80-yard march and hit Varner for a 24-yard touchdown with 2:17 prior to intermission.

Duke took the kickoff to start the third quarter and moved 60 yards on 10 plays for a 26-yard field goal by Snyderwine.  The kick increased the lead to 16-10 at the 11:05 mark.  The Hurricanes cut the lead in half with a 12-play, 54-yard drive that resulted in a 25-yard field goal by Bosher.

Following a Duke punt, a two-yard touchdown run by Miami’s Damien Berry completed a 15-play, 90-yard drive and provided the Hurricanes with a 20-16 advantage at the 13:41 mark of the fourth quarter.  Miami extended the lead to 27-16 with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Harris to Leonard Hankerson with 7:37 remaining in the game.  Darryl Sharpton rounded out the scoring with a 73-yard interception return for a touchdown with just over six minutes left.

Lewis finished with 303 passing yards on 20-of-37 throws.  The 300-yard day is his sixth of the year and the 10th of his career to move into a tie for first place on Duke’s all-time chart, matching Anthony Dilweg’s 10 300-yard efforts from 1985-88.

Varner paced the Duke receiving unit with eight catches for 165 yards.

For Miami, Harris was 25-of-43 through the air for 348 yards while Berry rushed for 76 yards on 16 attempts.  Hankerson had eight grabs for 143 yards.

The Blue Devils conclude the 2009 season next Saturday at home against Wake Forest.  Kickoff at Wallace Wade Stadium is set for 12 noon and the game will be televised live by Raycom Sports.

BDN Game Day Preview – Duke at Miami

dscott 33BDN previews Saturday’s matchup as Thad Lewis and the Blue Devils travel to Miami to face the #20 Hurricanes. The game will kickoff at noon ET on ESPNU.

Scouting the Blue Devils (5-5, 3-3 ACC)

Last time out

Duke was defeated by Georgia Tech at Wallace Wade Stadium, 49-10. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead, the Yellow Jackets dominated the remaining three-plus quarters, scoring 49 unanswered points.

Duke’s touchdown came on their first possession, as Thad Lewis found RB Re’quan Boyette for an 18 yard score. The Duke defense also came out fired up, forcing a three and out on Georgia Tech’s first possession, and a fumbled punt on Georgia Tech’s second possession, which handed the ball to the offense at the Georgia Tech 14 yard line. Will Snyderwine, returning after missing the previous game with an injury, connected on a 31-yard field goal to put the Blue Devils up 10-0.

From that point on, it was all Georgia Tech, as the Blue Devil defense continually gave up big plays, while the offense struggled to move the ball downfield. In fact, Duke’s leading receivers on the day were RB Re’quan Boyette and RB Desmond Scott, as the dynamic receiving corps of Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner, and Austin Kelly totaled just 7 catches and 75 yards combined. After a promising start, the Duke defense gave up a total of 519 yards to the Yellow Jackets, including 7 plays of greater than 20 yards.

Season

The Duke offense is led by senior QB Thad Lewis, who ranks third in the ACC with 264 passing yards per game and 16 TDs. Lewis was recently named as one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Award, which is presented to the nation’s top senior quarterback. The four-year starter has been instrumental to the program’s resurgence, etching his name in the Duke and ACC record books as one of the most prolific passers in conference history. Lewis is now just 240 passing yards shy of the Duke career record of 9,614 yards, currently held by Ben Bennett. Duke’s receiving corps of freshman Conner Vernon, sophomore Donovan Varner, and junior Austin Kelly all rank in the top 10 in the ACC in receiving. The Blue Devils have struggled to run the ball all season long, ranking last in the FBS at just 63.9 yards per game.

Defensive Coordinator Mike MacIntyre was recently named National Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association, and with good reason. The Duke defense has steadily improved under MacIntyre’s leadership, despite an overall lack of size and depth. The Duke defense ranks 6th in the ACC in total defense, and has also forced 16 turnovers on the season. The defense has sealed several of Duke’s victories with key defensive stops and forced turnovers late in games.

Duke’s special teams unit continues to improve, converting 14/18 field goals and a perfect 28/28 extra points. The return game has also set up good field position for the offense in recent weeks, though lead returner Johnny Williams is expected to miss this week’s matchup with Miami.

Scouting the Hurricanes (7-3, 4-3 ACC)

Last time out

Miami fell to a resurgent North Carolina team in Chapel Hill last Saturday, 33-24. QB Jacory Harris threw for 319 yards and a career-high 4 interceptions in the loss. North Carolina’s Kendric Burney set a single-game ACC record with 180 interception return yards, including a 77-yard TD.

The Miami offense moved the ball effectively against the ACC’s top defense, totaling 435 yards and 3 touchdowns, including runs by RB Graig Cooper and Damien Berry. The defense also performed well, holding North Carolina’s rushing attack to 3.6 yards per carry and no touchdowns. The turnovers proved to be too much to overcome, however, resulting in 17 points for the Tar Heels.

Season

While this is not the dominant Miami program of the past two decades, Randy Shannon has begun to bring in the coaches and athletes necessary to return the program to the nation’s elite. Facing one of the toughest schedules in the country, including their first four games against nationally-ranked opponents, the Hurricanes boast a 7-3 record, including wins against Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Oklahoma.

The Hurricanes rank 4th in the ACC in total offense and 5th in the ACC in total defense. QB Jacory Harris received national attention for his early season success, but has cooled as the season progressed, having now thrown 16 interceptions on the year to go along with 19 touchdowns. His offensive line has also allowed 28 sacks, ranking ahead of only Maryland and Virginia in the conference. An elite receiver has yet to emerge for Harris, although Leonard Hankerson does rank 9th in the conference at 60.0 receiving yards per game. RB Graig Cooper ranks 4th in the ACC in all purpose yards with 128.0 yards per game.

The Miami defense, despite its ranking, has forced only 14 turnovers and 19 sacks, both of which rank in the bottom four of the conference. The Hurricanes are also the second most penalized team in the ACC, averaging almost 8 penalties and 60 penalty yards per game. The defense particularly struggled in a 28-27 victory over Wake Forest, in which senior QB Riley Skinner was able to throw for 408 yards against the Miami secondary.

Injuries

The Blue Devils injury report has grown considerably over the past two weeks, as a result of the long season and two particularly physical contests against UNC and Georgia Tech. Last week, the Blue Devils lost 2nd string QB Sean Renfree for the remainder of the season with an ACL tear. The week before, starting OG Mitchell Lederman was lost for the year with a broken toe. In addition, Duke expects to be without standout DT Vince Oghobaase, WR and lead kick returner Johnny Williams, and senior RB Re’quan Boyette. Several other key players appear on this week’s injury report, including QB Thad Lewis, WR Austin Kelly, K Will Snyderwine, LB Abraham Kromah, and LB Vincent Rey, but all are expected to suit up on Saturday.

The injury report for the Hurricanes, on the other hand, brings some good news, as Miami expects to have two key players back on defense for the first time in the last three weeks. LB Sean Spence and S Ray Ray Armstrong both practiced this week and should be available to play on Saturday. QB Jacory Harris injured his thumb during last week’s loss to North Carolina, but practiced as usual on Wednesday and is expected to play on Saturday. The Hurricanes will be without explosive punt returner Thearon Collier, who sprained his ankle in practice earlier this week. Travis Benjamin will likely field the returns in his absence.

Closing Thoughts

A win for the Blue Devils will bring them one win away from bowl eligibility, a feat the program has not accomplished since 1994. A Blue Devil victory would snap the program’s 39-game losing streak against nationally-ranked opponents, along with a five-game losing streak to Miami. The Blue Devils last win against Miami came in 1976.

Last year at Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke held a 24-14 third quarter lead against Miami, before Jacory Harris took over, leading the Hurricanes to a 49-31 victory. In the second half, Duke’s lack of depth and Miami’s superior talent took center stage. Duke has taken the first steps in closing the talent gap, bringing in players like WR Conner Vernon and RB Desmond Scott in the freshman class; however, Miami is a more experienced team this year and will be playing in front of their home crowd.

After two straight losses, it’s a must-win game for Duke, and a great opportunity for the program to upset one of the nation’s top programs. Duke’s Thad Lewis, Conner Vernon, and Donovan Varner all hail from the Miami area, and the trio would like nothing better than to celebrate their homecoming with a victory. At this stage in the program’s development, however, Duke might need help from Miami to win in Land Shark Stadium Saturday. The Hurricanes simply have the superior athletes and an established culture of winning. However, Miami has been prone to penalties and turnovers this season, which could provide the Blue Devils with opportunities to stay in the game and pull off the improbable upset.

Thaddeus Lewis one of five finalist for Unitas Golden Arm Award

Lewis during pre season practice - BDNP
Lewis during pre season practice - BDNP

DURHAM, N.C. Duke senior Thaddeus Lewis has been named one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, an honor presented annually to the top senior quarterback in the nation by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation, Inc., and Transamerica, a leading provider of innovative business and personal financial services.

Lewis is joined on the list of finalists by Dan LeFevour (Central Michigan), Colt McCoy (Texas), Zac Robinson (Oklahoma State) and Tim Tebow (Florida).

A 6-1, 185-pound native of Opa-Locka, Fla., Lewis has played in 45 career games at Duke with 44 starting assignments.  He holds school career records for total offensive yards (9,300), pass completions (829), pass attempts (1,425), touchdown passes (63), touchdown responsibility (71), touchdown-to-interception ratio (1.66-to-1) and total offensive plays (1,772).  Just one of three players in ACC history to throw for 2,000 or more yards in four seasons, Lewis ranks second in league history in career pass attempts, third in completions, fifth in passing touchdowns, sixth in passing yards and ninth in total offense.

Lewis has guided the Blue Devils to five wins in 2009 by competing 226-of-364 pass attempts for 2,640 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing for an additional three scores.  In Duke’s 49-28 win at N.C. State on October 10, he completed a school single-game record 40 passes in 50 attempts for a career-high 459 yards and five touchdowns and was named the National Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Foundation for his efforts.

The 2009 winner will be presented with the Golden Arm Award on Friday, December 11 at the Tremont Grand Meeting & Banquet Facility in Downtown Baltimore. Joining the evening’s festivities will be a number of former Baltimore Colts teammates of Johnny Unitas, along with NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr.

Last year’s winner of the Golden Arm Award was Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell. Other past winners include Matt Ryan (Boston College), who is now with the Atlanta Falcons; Brady Quinn (Notre Dame, 2006), now with the Cleveland Browns; the Arizona Cardinals’ Matt Leinart (USC, 2005), Eli Manning (Ole Miss, 2003) of the New York Giants; the Cincinnati Bengals’ Carson Palmer (USC, 2002); and the Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997).

“When you consider how many great college QBs have won the Golden Arm Award and have gone on to play in the NFL, it is clear that this award has become a significant barometer for future success in the professional ranks,” says John C. Unitas, Jr., President of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation.

The namesake of the Golden Arm Award has a storied history which has earned him the recognition of being the greatest quarterback to ever play in the National Football League. An 18-year veteran of the NFL, Unitas played his collegiate career at the University of Louisville (1951-1954), passing for 3007 yards and 27 touchdowns.

Unitas began his pro career with the Baltimore Colts in 1958 and played there 17 years until joining the San Diego Chargers for his final season. His career passing figures include completing 2,830 of 5,186 passes for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns. Among his many records is one that may stand forever, throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games.

Unitas was selected as the top quarterback of all-time by the Pro Football Hall of Fame 36-member selection committee. In commemorating the NFL’s 25th, 50th and 75th anniversaries, he was honored as the GREATEST QUARTERBACK OF ALL TIME. Unitas was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

Proceeds from the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Awards help to support the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation. The Foundation provides financial assistance to underprivileged and deserving young scholar-athletes throughout Maryland and Kentucky.