Here’s a secret that got lost amid the hoopla of Duke football earning its first bowl bid since 1994: There has actually been an annual bowl game on campus for quite some time.
And in the most anticipated football game of the season, for at least some of the Duke population, the Delta Delta Delta sorority grinded out a 7-0 victory against Pi Beta Phi in the annual Powder Puff Bowl. With the win, the Tri-Delts ended Pi Phi’s “dynasty” of five, six or seven—depending on the source—consecutive Powder Puff victories.
“This is a big moment in Duke sports,” said Lewis McLeod, a junior and spectator at the game. “They already had football the other day. This is just as big. More people actually come to watch this game than all the Duke football games combined.”
But how long has the Powder Puff game gone on?
“Long enough to establish we are the better team and sorority,” said Molly Inadomi, a Pi Phi senior.
The Powder Puff heroics matched those of Sean Renfree and Jamison Crowder from the Blue Devils’ unforgettable win against North Carolina. The lone score of the contest came at the end of the first half, when Tri-Delt coaches Colin Ford and Colin Howard, both seniors, called a timeout for the last play of the period. Although the Tri-Delts had exclusively run the ball until that point, a play-action pass from Alyssa Ogle found the extended hands of a leaping Corinne Merriman, who secured the game’s only score and a spot in sorority history.
“This is for all the seniors that have tried before us,” Ogle said. “It all came down to our heart and tremendous coaching.”
Matched in white button-down shirts, black sweater vests and crisply knotted red ties, Ford and Howard assumed the coaching duties for the Tri-Delts, who donned matching royal blue uniforms.
In front of a crowd of approximately 400—with members of both sororities joined by a large host of male supporters, including notable campus figures such as Mason Plumlee—Ford and Howard were not afraid to take the clipboard and coach a team that was a heavy underdog. Even with referees openly drinking on the job, wagers prior to the game between fans favored Pi Phi by anywhere from 6.5-8.5 points to continue its winning streak.
“[We had] frequent practices—a lot of basic football theory. We’ve implemented plays,” Ford said. “I played football in high school. I have a good relationship with all the girls in Tri-Delt, so they asked me to coach.”
But Xs and Os and the final score were only part of the festivities. Competing in the game is limited to just the seniors from both sororities, but the majority of members from both groups came in support with signs, cheers and other garb to give out to fans in attendance.
“Look around and see the shirts that people are adorned in,” Inadomi said. “Without question, at the very least, we have won in terms of our fan show.”
Just like in the stands of any Duke-North Carolina event, the fans’ signs and cheers ranged from light-hearted to ludicrous. Neither side held back on trash talk. The Tri-Delts had a sign with an arrow saying, “Long Island is that way,” while Pi Phi members chanted, “We preffed Pi Phi and so did you!”
The extra-curricular activities extended beyond the ladies—at one point during the game, a male fan streaked across the field.
None of the sideline antics, though, changed the one key to the game: Tri Delt’s stifling defense. Even when Pi Phi threatened to drive down the field, Tri Delt managed to come up with key stops, such as when senior Mie Graham snagged an early interception.
“We got shredded,” Pi Phi coach Dom Puglisi, a senior, said. “It was a bloodbath. It got a little chippy out there.”
As chippy and snippy as it got on the field and on the sidelines however, both teams graciously shook hands after the game. The competitiveness was in the spirit of the event, since many of the opponents are good friends.
When the Shooters II bus parked behind the field rolled to its destination at the end of the game, the victory was inscribed in the history books—at least for one night—as the bouncers marked underage patrons’ hands with triangles, signaling the end of a dynasty and a victory for Delta Delta Delta.
Max Horowitz contributed reporting.