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Five observations and more from Duke football's first half against Temple

<p>Daniel Jones threw an interception in the first half Thursday.</p>

Daniel Jones threw an interception in the first half Thursday.

SHREVEPORT, La.—The Blue Devils dug themselves a hole in the first half with a pair of costly interceptions and head into halftime trailing Temple 27-21 in the Walk-On's Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium. Here are some quick notes and observations with Duke needing a comeback to pick up its third straight bowl win. 

Five observations

  1. Blue Devil quarterback Daniel Jones was hit from behind by an unblocked Temple defender on a second-down incompletion midway through the first quarter and limped off the field. He reentered the game, but not before backup Quentin Harris threw an interception that Owl safety Delvon Randall returned for a touchdown.
  2. Jones' first pass of the game in front of a sizable group of NFL scouts and executives was a beauty down the right sideline to wide receiver T.J. Rahming. The 62-yard pass was Duke's longest in exactly two months since Jones completed a 74-yard pass Oct. 27 at Pittsburgh.
  3. The Blue Devils are missing All-ACC linebackers Ben Humphreys and Joe Giles-Harris once again due to leg injuries, and Duke's defense got worn down without them as the half progressed. The Owls had the help of short fields for their first two offensive touchdowns, but drove 79 yards down the field with ease late in the half to get to 27 points.
  4. Temple has had highs and lows on special teams, setting up its first touchdown with a 74-yard kick return by speedy receiver Isaiah Wright but missing an extra point following its second touchdown. Meanwhile, the Owls have kept Blue Devil return men Rahming and Deon Jackson from finding any space on punts and kicks.
  5. Duke's offensive line is struggling to protect Daniel Jones, giving up a sack on third-and-long late in the first quarter, and Temple's pressure later forced Jones into a panicked interception in the second period.

By the numbers

  • 2.8 yards per carry for Duke: The Blue Devil running backs have been unable to find any room to work, with the Owls plugging every hole at the line of scrimmage. Jackson has just 14 rushing yards, and Brittain Brown, who began the season as a clear-cut starter before seeing his time disappear following an injury, went backwards on his first carry and has just 10 yards at halftime. 
  • 13 points off turnovers for Temple: Although the two teams are fairly even in offensive yardage, Duke's two interceptions have been costly. Temple ran the first one back for a touchdown and capitalized on a short field after Jones' pick to stretch its lead to 13 points. Blue Devil cornerback Brandon Feamster picked off Owl quarterback Anthony Russo once, but Duke gave it right back to Temple with a quick three-and-out.
  • 199 passing yards for Jones: Jones displayed his strong arm and accuracy throughout a offense-heavy first half against the Owls. The Charlotte, N.C., native completed 13-of-20 attempts and added a pair of touchdowns in the first 30 minutes of play. Rahming was the largest benefactor, gaining 90 receiving yards including a 22-yard score to cut Temple's lead to 27-21 late in the second quarter.

A moment that mattered

With Temple threatening to pull away in the second quarter, Jones orchestrated an impressive scoring drive, capped by a play-action pass to a wide-open Chris Taylor over the middle for 34 yards. Taylor could walk into the end zone with no defender near him as the Owls bit on the fake to trim the deficit to 20-14.