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Hokies pound Blue Devils

BLACKSBURG, Va. - The optimism Duke left Winston-Salem with after last week's close loss to Wake Forest quickly disappeared Saturday.

On the game's first play from scrimmage, Virginia Tech completed a 60-yard pass down to Duke's five-yard line. Four plays later, Hokie tailback Branden Ore punched the ball in for Virginia Tech's first touchdown of the day. The 14th-ranked Hokies (3-0, 2-0 in the ACC) never looked back, physically outmatching Duke (0-3, 0-2) on their way to a 36-0 victory.

"You never want to start a game like that," Duke head coach Ted Roof said. "It wasn't like we hung our heads or anything like that. But their guys made some great plays."

The loss, however, may have been worse for Duke than just the score would indicate. Down 13-0 in the second quarter, quarterback Thaddeus Lewis-making his second collegiate start-rolled out to his right and hit tight end Nick Stefanow for a six-yard gain.

After Lewis let the ball go, Virginia Tech rover Aaron Rouse nailed the freshman with a helmet-to-helmet hit. The referees immediately flagged Rouse for the Hokies' third roughing-the-passer penalty of the first half. Lewis remained down on the field for several minutes before leaving for Duke's locker room, where he was diagnosed with a concussion.

After the game, Rouse apologized to Roof for the brutal hit.

"I felt like he was going to run the ball-he started running toward me and I ran toward him at the last minute, and I was already committed," Rouse said. "You have to play by the rules of the game, but at the same time you can't be confined by them."

By the time Lewis returned to Duke's sideline late in the second half wearing street clothes, the game was out of reach. Roof had planned to use the Blue Devils' week-one starting quarterback, sophomore Marcus Jones, at wide receiver against the Hokies.

But when Lewis went down, Jones changed pads and jerseys-the backup No. 6 jersey he wore in the first half did not have his last name stitched on it-and entered the game.

Neither quarterback succeeded much in moving the Blue Devils' offense, which had rebounded under Lewis' guidance against the Demon Deacons from an anemic effort against Richmond.

Lewis' six-yard completion to Stefanow was Duke's longest passing play of the first half. In the opening period, Duke gained 28 yards while Virginia Tech put up 23 points. The Blue Devils finished the game with 139 offensive yards to Virginia Tech's 418.

Hokie quarterback Sean Glennon threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns, and Ore and tailback Kenny Lewis each ran for scores. The Hokies also scored on special teams when Eddie Royal zig-zagged 58 yards through Duke's coverage unit after picking up a bouncing Alex Feinberg punt. That score put the Hokies up, 13-0, toward the end of the first quarter.

Duke struggled with its tackling on special teams and at times on defense, though the Blue Devils' run defense held strong for the third straight week. Another bright spot was the field goal unit succeeding in blocking two Hokie extra points.

Still, Virginia Tech's athleticism proved too much for Duke to overcome.

"We're almost there, and we have them wrapped up, and we have them within our reach, but we don't make a play," linebacker Michael Tauiliili said. "Those are the things that determine the game.

Duke moved the ball more successfully in the second half with Jones under center. The sophomore connected for 38 yards down the left side to wideout Eron Riley to move the Blue Devils to the Hokie 19 late in the third quarter.

But the Blue Devils could not convert on the red-zone opportunity, electing to go for fourth-and-six from the 15 instead of kicking the field goal. Jones' scamper on that play came up short, and a Jones fumble on Duke's final fourth-quarter drive sent the Blue Devils home scoreless for the second straight year against the Hokies.

"I wanted to make sure to send the message to our team that we're not playing to kick field goals, we're playing to win," Roof said of his red-zone decision.

After Duke's third loss to the Hokies in Virginia Tech's first three years in the conference-including last year's 45-0 home defeat-the Blue Devils move into their bye week before facing Virginia at home Sept. 30.

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