WEST POINT, N.Y.—Coming off a bye week in a must-win game, the Blue Devils were expected to come out the aggressor.

But as it has been throughout its six-game losing streak, Duke let its opponent seize the momentum. Despite starting out on top 3-0, the Blue Devils surrendered 21 unanswered points in just a nine-minute span as Army rallied behind its home crowd on Senior Day.

Ultimately, the second quarter deficit was too much to overcome for the Blue Devils, who lost 21-16 against the Black Knights Saturday on Veterans Day at Michie Stadium. Duke was plagued by a variety of issues throughout the game, including two turnovers and two unnecessary roughness penalties.

Although they were playing against the top-ranked rushing offense in the nation, the Blue Devils' defense gave their offense plenty of chances to stage a comeback, holding the Black Knights to 226 yards on the ground. Defensive tackle Mike Ramsay blocked an Army field goal attempt with less than five minutes left to give Duke a chance for the go-ahead drive, but quarterback Daniel Jones got sacked for an eight-yard loss on second down, and the Blue Devils punted it away, never to take possession again.

“The most disappointing thing is that we slipped,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said. “We let multiple opportunities to win the game slip through our fingers.” 

Duke (4-6) struggled to establish much of a rushing attack throughout the contest, as it rumbled for just 89 yards on 33 attempts. Running backs Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown received just 12 carries as offensive coordinator Zac Roper sought to get a struggling passing game back on a roll. But the ground game still supplied both touchdowns, with Jones and Brown finding the end zone on short runs.

Jones threw for just 164 yards despite attempting 29 passes, and was sacked four times. The pass rush also affected the Charlotte native during many more dropbacks, as he committed an intentional grounding penalty and missed his targets while getting hit as he threw.

“When you put yourself behind the chains, you’re rarely going to be very successful. When we stayed ahead of the chains, they couldn’t stop us,” Cutcliffe said. “Two turnovers stopped us, and I really think those plays, [the sacks], are turnovers.”

After a promising start with a stop on fourth down and a subsequent field goal, everything started to go downhill for the Blue Devils. In a three-minute span, Duke went from having a 3-0 lead to staring at a 14-3 deficit.

The Black Knights (8-2) rattled off an 11-play, 80-yard drive after the Blue Devils’ field goal, as they were helped by Duke defensive tackle Edgar Cerenord’s 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and they capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown from junior running back Darnell Woolfolk.

“Teams are going to do that. We’ve just got to be mentally strong so that you know that they’re trying to bait you into those mistakes,” Ramsay said. “You’ve just got to be smarter, more disciplined and know that those mistakes can’t happen.”

On the ensuing possession, the Blue Devils were backed up on fourth-and-29 from their own 21-yard line when sophomore Austin Parker stepped back for a punt attempt. But Army tailback Andy Davidson bull rushed the Blue Devil protection and deflected the punt, which fell into the hands of tailback Connor Slomka, who scampered untouched into the end zone.

Duke’s problems did not stop there, though, as a fumble on a read-option exchange killed its next drive and resulted in an 18-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw. The Blue Devils rallied with the last two touchdowns of the game, but lost by one possession for the fourth time in their losing streak. On the Black Knights' final drive, linebacker Ben Humphreys got injured and had to be helped off the field without putting any pressure on his leg.

The standout junior will undergo further testing to determine whether he will be able to play the rest of the season.

Duke will look to rebound next Saturday against another triple-option offense in Georgia Tech, returning to Wallace Wade Stadium for the first time in four weeks.

“You don’t just go back to work. You take the things that we’ve got to do better, and that’s every detail,” Cutcliffe said. “Every detail of being a Duke football team needs to be tested right now. The most difficult of times should require your best work, and that’s where we’re heading.”