BLACKSBURG, Va.—With two straight victories at Lane Stadium since 2013, the Blue Devils entered Saturday evening’s matchup against 13th-ranked Virginia Tech looking to build on that success while snapping a four-game losing streak in the process.

However, in order for Duke to avoid falling below .500 for the first time all season, it will need to find its offensive rhythm in the second half—something the Blue Devils have struggled with for the last month.

Duke has been shut out of the end zone offensively through the first 30 minutes of play for the second time in three weeks and trails 17-3 heading into the locker room. The Blue Devils have had little success moving the ball offensively, gaining 82 yards in the air and a mere 16 yards on the ground against a potent Hokie defense which holds its opponents to an average of fewer than 13 points per contest. 

An unnecessary personal foul against Duke running back Shaun Wilson with less than a minute left stopped the clock and gave Virginia Tech a chance to extend a 10-3 advantage. The Hokies capitalized, taking two plays to score on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Josh Jackson to Sean Savoy with 15 seconds left.

A week removed from a three-takeaway performance against North Carolina, Virginia Tech’s defense is out in full force once again. After forcing back-to-back three-and-outs to start the contest, the Hokies marched down the field and took a 7-0 lead on a four-yard touchdown rush by Deshawn McClease on a nine-play, 71-yard drive.

Two plays later, Virginia Tech took advantage of an underthrown pass downfield by Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. Terrell Edmunds' 15-yard return set the Hokies up with good field possession at their own 47, but the Blue Devils held their ground defensively to force a punt. 

Although Virginia Tech was unable to take advantage of the interception, the Hokies extended their lead to 10 with 14:51 in the second quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Joey Slye, which was set up by a third-down fumble by Duke wide receiver T.J. Rahming at the Blue Devil 19-yard line. 

Duke got those three points back and cut the Hokie lead to just seven with a 31-yard field goal by Austin Parker with just more than five minutes left in the half. 

Despite trailing, Duke has done a good job of containing a Virginia Tech offensive unit that exploded for 59 points last week against North Carolina. The Blue Devils have forced two turnovers on downs in the first half and have held their own defensively on third-down plays, holding the Hokies to just 1-of-7 in that department for the first 30 minutes. 

Here are a few observations from the first half:

  • The Blue Devils enter the contest averaging 176.1 rushing yards per contest, yet Duke only gained 16 yards on the ground in the first half.
  • Virginia Tech has accumulated 51 points off turnovers this season after getting three of the fumble by Rahming.
  • Hokie punter Oscar Bradburn has pinned Duke inside the 10-yard line three different times, forcing the Blue Devils to go all the way down the field to have any hope of scoring.