HALFTIME: Florida State 7, Duke 3

Duke's offense still has not found the end zone through a quick half of play at Wallace Wade Stadium, though it is staying close to a more talented opponent thanks to another strong defensive performance.

Florida State leads 7-3 after controlling possession thanks to an effective run game that has been too strong for the Blue Devils' defensive front. After entering the contest allowing just 2.9 yards per carry, Duke has let the Seminoles pick up 114 rushing yards on 18 attempts behind strong performances by quarterback James Blackman and running backs Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers.

Duke was driving late in the half with a chance to take the lead, but an attempt at trickery in Florida State territory backfired. Running back Shaun Wilson took a pitch to draw the defense in before throwing a deep pass downfield toward tight end Daniel Helm. But the pass was short and deflected into the air by the Seminoles and eventually intercepted by linebacker Emmett Rice.

With Florida State facing a third-and-1 on its first series, Patrick was met behind the line of scrimmage by multiple Blue Devil defenders, but the 6-foot-3, 234-pound junior shrugged off the tacklers and powered forward for the first down.

The Seminoles gained five more first downs on that drive, methodically marching down the field and eating up more than six minutes before a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback James Blackman to Auden Tate.

Blackman completed his first seven passes of the afternoon, consistently getting plenty of time to throw and and finding holes in Duke's secondary, before throwing an interception to Mark Gilbert in Blue Devil territory on Florida State's second drive.

Duke running back Shaun Wilson was effective on the Blue Devils' ensuing drive and finished the half with 43 yards on eight carries. Quarterback Daniel Jones completed a fourth-down pass to tight end Davis Koppenhaver to push Duke into field goal range, and kicker Austin Parker split the uprights on a 37-yard attempt.

Here are some observations from the first half:

  • The Seminoles been hurt by penalties, including an ineligible receiver downfield whistle that negated a 30-yard pass into the red zone in the closing minutes. Florida State has been flagged five times, and the Blue Devils have played a clean game with no penalties.
  • Duke spent much of the last week talking about the importance of making open-field tackles, but the Seminoles' ball-carriers have rarely been brought down by the first defender they meet.
  • After redshirt freshman Scott Bracey caught two passes on the Blue Devils' final drive of their loss at Virginia last Saturday, Jones went back to him early on. Bracey had two more catches in the first quarter.
  • The Blue Devils have been much more conservative in the passing game than they were last week, when Jones completed 14-of-42 passes. Jones has a 66.7 percent completion percentage, but still only has 3.4 passing yards per attempt.

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