Duke snapped a five-game losing streak with a commanding 27-17 win against the Miami Hurricanes in its season finale. The Blue Zone gives three key takeaways, stats and looks forward for the Blue Devils:
Three key takeaways:
1. Defense wins football games
The Duke defense wreaked havoc all night against Miami. The Hurricanes’ first three possessions of the game all ended in three-and-outs, giving the Blue Devil offense plenty of opportunities to jump out ahead early. Although Miami was able to score two touchdowns in time for a 14-13 halftime lead, the Duke defense only allowed three points for the rest of the game, allowing the team's offense to take over and secure a victory.
2. Field position also wins football games
Two of Duke’s three touchdowns came on drives in which the Blue Devils started on Miami’s side of the field. In a game as rainy as Saturday’s, field position is crucial. Both teams had trouble holding onto the football and making accurate throws because of the wet ball. Furthermore, punters were having a hard time pinning the ball deep in the opposition’s territory. Duke, the benefactor of an untimely fumble and a shaky punt, was able to capitalize on the consequences of the weather.
3. Duke football weathered the storm
Considering the conditions of Saturday’s game, this takeaway may be a bit derivative. But it’s also true. The “storm” of the Blue Devils’ 2019 football season was the five-game losing streak featuring losses to the likes of Syracuse and North Carolina. Although the prognosis for the rest of Duke’s campaign was bleak, the Blue Devils were able to bounce back in a statement win against Miami. Who knows, maybe battling a storm for over a month was just what Duke needed to shine in the eye of the Hurricanes?
Three key stats:
1. Nine total sacks by the Duke defense
Seven different Blue Devils were able to add to the sack column against Miami. Leading them was redshirt sophomore Chris Rumph II, whose 3.5 sacks were the second most all-time by a Duke player in a single contest. The Blue Devil defense was in the backfield often, pressuring Miami’s quarterbacks (plural) and disrupting the flow of the game. Seniors Dylan Singleton, Koby Quansah, Trevon McSwain and Tre Hornbuckle were also able to record sacks in their last game as Duke football players.
2. Miami finishes with 13 total pass completions
Benching their starting quarterback midway through the game proved to be no help to the Hurricanes’ passing woes. Jarren Williams (the starter) and N’Kosi Perry (the replacement) combined for just 13 completions on 35 pass attempts. The 37 percent completion percentage combined with a total QBR of 21.4 is reflective of a Miami team that struggled to beat the Blue Devil secondary through the air, and ultimately paid the price.
3. Duke comes back with 14 fourth-quarter points
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils were down 17-13. Their first drive of the quarter ended in a punt. After that, Duke found a rhythm, scoring two touchdowns on two consecutive possessions to give the team a 27-17 lead. Holding Miami scoreless in the quarter, the Blue Devils emerged victorious, demonstrating the players’ grit and determination. This was the first time in over two years in which Duke won after trailing heading into the fourth.
Although it will not end its 2019 campaign with a bowl game, the Duke football team will use this victory as momentum and motivation for next season. Twenty-two current Blue Devils will not be on the roster for the 2020 football campaign, as they took the field for their last collegiate football game Saturday afternoon. However, the example they set throughout their time in the program will surely be remembered by next season’s team.
Duke football fans should look forward to seeing a talented young receiving core, experienced offensive and defensive lines and a new quarterback to take on the ACC next season.
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