The last game of the 2021 season has been played at Wallace Wade Stadium.
It was senior day, and for the third straight year, Duke's final home game was against Miami. The Blue Devils fell 47-10 and before the game’s start, Duke celebrated the achievements of seniors on the team, whom the team and the fans have witnessed their growth and appreciated their leadership throughout the years.
“I want to first comment on our seniors and how appreciative I am of them and their commitment to this program and this community. They've done a great deal to make a difference here at Duke University and certainly in Duke football,” head coach David Cutcliffe said. “We had a number of grad transfers that have just been phenomenal people and already have strong relationships with our players and staff. It's just been an incredible group of young men.”
During the game, senior running back Mataeo Durant broke Duke’s single-season rushing record, as he rushed for a total of 68 yards Saturday, adding up to 1,241 rushing yards for his senior season.
“I just feel like it'd be a great feeling not only for myself,” said Durant, “but also, us as a whole, knowing that we've accomplished something.”
Cutcliffe sang the praises of his star back.
“[Mataeo]’s had a tremendous year, great start, and was able to finish well enough to set a single season record that has stood for a long, long time,” said Cutcliffe. “So to Mataeo and his family, deep and hearty congratulations.”
To start the game, Duke (3-9, 0-8 in the ACC) received the opening kickoff. A turnover scare occurred early in the game when the attempted trick play pass from junior receiver Jalon Calhoun was intercepted by Miami’s defenders, but the pass interference call ruled the play as an incomplete forward pass, returning the possession to the Blue Devils.
After two other unsuccessful pass attempts, Duke was able to convert the third down into a field goal from kicker Charlie Ham, taking a 3-0 lead early into the game. Miami (7-5, 5-3) retaliated with a 44-yard pass to Charleston Rambo to set up a field goal that tied the game at 3-3. Duke, however, was able to find early momentum, as Jaylen Stinson scored a touchdown on the kickoff. But that didn’t secure the lead for long, as Miami mounted a long drive to the end zone that ended in a touchdown catch by receiver Xavier Restrepo to tie the game at 10-10 in the first quarter.
The second quarter, however, was full of drama. While penalties have changed the game on both ends of the field, a Miami touchdown by receiver Rambo gave the Hurricanes the lead of the game.
As the Blue Devils regained possession of the ball, a fumble resulting from Miami’s sack led to a backward pass, followed by four minutes of inconsistent passing plays by both teams. However, with 10 minutes remaining, a long rush, following a precise pass from Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke led to a big gain, bringing the Hurricanes back to first down. The following play was the highlight of the quarter, as Miami wide receiver Jacolby George dodged Duke’s defense by making a one-handed catch, and the Hurricanes scored one more touchdown during the next few plays. Miami scored two other field goals for the rest of the quarter, bringing the lead to 30-10.
The third quarter had a rather sluggish start, as both sides made inefficient drives attempting to approach the end zone. With 9:43 remaining on the clock, however, Miami completed a 43-yard field goal attempt to bring the lead to 23 points. Just a minute later, a Duke fumble returned the possession to Miami, and the Hurricanes responded by scoring a one-handed touchdown courtesy of Rambo, which set Miami’s new single-season receiving record at 1,163 yards. With just two minutes left, another long touchdown pass attempt was marred by a penalty call, but Miami, with help from running back Thaddius Franklin Jr., scored a rushing touchdown in less than a minute, bringing the lead up to 47-10 following the extra point.
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Duke now enters the offseason after going winless in ACC play for the first time during Cutcliffe's career.