Despite winning five of seven matchups, the Blue Devils left the score too close for comfort.

Duke defeated Gardner-Webb 28-19 to bounce back from two losses last weekend. Forfeits kept the match tight, but four bonus wins brought victory for the Blue Devils.

“It wasn’t bad. I mean, it wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure,” head coach Glen Lanham said. “Overall, we’ve worked on some things, and I saw the guys use [them] out on the mat, so I was happy with that.”

Duke (6-10) jumped out to an early 9-0 lead with a fall and decision from redshirt sophomores Conner Hartmann and Brendan Walsh. Hartmann notched his fourth straight win and third fall of the season. Walsh’s win—which came after match delays due to his sudden nosebleed—marked the first of his dual competition.

Duke traded forfeits with Gardner-Webb (6-13) at the 125 and 133 pound classes, but Duke was forced to forfeit a second bout at 141, bringing the score to 15-12.

“Those forfeits kill you. Any time you give up 12 points like that, it’s tough,” Lanham said. “You look at the matches we won compared to theirs, but you throw six points in and then give them another six. That was rough for us to overcome, but we wrestled well, so I’m happy with the win for sure.”

Resuming competition, redshirt freshman Jake Faust lost a close match at 149 pounds. Faust, wrestling up from his usual weight class, managed two escapes but fell to Tyler Ziegler, tying the score at 15-15.

“Faust just has to pull the trigger a little bit more,” Lanham said. “He’s just tentative, so we’ve got to get him going.”

After a major decision win by redshirt junior Immanuel Kerr-Brown, Duke took the lead only to trade back a major decision at 165 pounds. Redshirt sophomore Marcus Cain’s three-match win streak was snapped as he dropped a 9-1 major decision on a last-second takedown.

With the match tied at 19-19 and two bouts remaining, redshirt sophomore Trey Adamson and freshman Jacob Kasper wrestled two convincing rounds to end the night and give the Blue Devils the win, their 25th against the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

Duke will return to action Saturday, traveling to Maryland to resume conference play. Lanham said he expects the regular 149-pound freshman Connor Bass to be back in the lineup, meaning the Blue Devils will likely avoid another two-forfeit match.