Brown, Martin earn ACC weekly honors
Thanh-Ha Nguyen / The Chronicle
Brown, who also earned Walter Camp Foundation National Player of the Week honors, racked up 14 tackles and one tackle for loss against Virginia Tech. But Brown's shining moment came late in the game, with an interception that sealed Duke's landmark upset.
Down just six points with 5:09 left to play in the fourth quarter, Logan Thomas and the Hokie offense took the field. Starting the drive at its own 44-yard line, Virginia Tech looked poised to score and crush the Blue Devils' upset hopes.
On the second play of the drive, Thomas dropped back to pass but could not find an open receiver downfield. He tried to dump the ball off underneath the secondary's coverage, but linebacker David Helton tipped the pass and sent the ball high into the air. Brown jumped up, snatched the ball and came to the ground, where he was immediately planted by a Virginia Tech offensive lineman. But Brown held on, and Duke would hold the ball for the rest of the game to secure the upset.
"[Duke's linebacking corps] contributed a number of big plays," Blue Devil head coach David Cutcliffe said. "Kelby is getting healthier. When you see Kelby playing at full strength, you're going to see a guy who I think is an All-American football player."
After a scoreless first quarter, Martin got an opportunity to put Duke on the board early in the second period. The Blue Devils started their second drive of the quarter on their own 45-yard line, but made just one first down before the drive came to a halt. Facing a fourth-and-7 from the Hokies' 33-yard line, Martin trotted onto the field for a 51-yard attempt. Martin nailed the kick and gave Duke the 3-0 lead.
At the end of the second quarter, Martin would get an opportunity to extend the Blue Devils' lead. The Duke offense took the field with just 42 seconds left in the half, and moved the ball 37 yards to the Virginia Tech 35-yard line before sending Martin out for another try. With two seconds remaining on the clock, Martin lined up for a 53-yard attempt. As time expired, Martin's kick sailed through the uprights to give the Blue Devils a 6-0 halftime lead.
Martin is the only player in the nation this year to knock down two kicks of 50-plus yards in one game, earning him ACC Player of the Week honors.
"The other day I tested him on one, and he was able to hit a 59-yarder with room to spare," Cutcliffe said. "We've put him under pressure in practice and he responded in practice. That's one of the reasons I went ahead and attempted the first kick, was I felt good about him making it. He didn't disappoint, that's for sure."