Extra point: Perfect passing, strong ground game push No. 21 Duke to Week 2 victory against Lafayette

Graduate student Jordan Waters rushed for a career-high 112 yards in No. 21 Duke's win against Lafayette.
Graduate student Jordan Waters rushed for a career-high 112 yards in No. 21 Duke's win against Lafayette.

No. 21 Duke poured in 35 unanswered points amidst a rainy second half to move to 2-0. The Blue Zone analyzes down the game with three key takeaways, stats and a look ahead:

Three key takeaways

1. Ran them over

Even before the torrential downpour later in the game, Duke’s dominant strategy was to run the ball. On their first drive, the Blue Devils’ offensive line simply overpowered the Leopards’ defensive line, creating massive holes for graduate student Jordan Waters to weave through. No. 21 Duke tallied 261 yards on the ground, 112 of which came from Waters' 11 carries. This was his first career game with 100 yards rushing and third two-touchdown game. The Blue Devils kept it simple in the rain — four of Duke’s six touchdowns were on the ground — and Lafayette could not find an answer. 

2. Slow start

An even 7-7 score after the first quarter did not do the Leopards justice. The Blue Devils were quite out of sync, with some bad penalties. After a fantastic hit from senior Jaylen Stinson to prevent an end zone catch, Lafayette faced a fourth down and lined up for a field goal. Duke jumped offsides and extended the Leopards’ drive, resulting in a touchdown to tie the game. On a breakaway run, the Lafayette defense hounded Jordan Waters and stole the ball from his arms. Finally, the Blue Devils started to drive as the first half came to a close. Unfortunately, big plays in the air were overshadowed by sophomore kicker Todd Pelino’s second career miss. After the break, Duke moved past the first half mishaps and started inflating the score.

3. Still perfect

Both quarterbacks finished with perfect games — Riley Leonard went 12-for-12 and Henry Belin IV was 8-of-8 through the air. Leonard was under much less pressure than the clash with Clemson Week 1, and he was able to stay in the pocket, preserve his legs and find his weapons more effectively. The defense, although not completely flawless, showed its colors, as it has still not given up more than seven points this season. The Blue Devils held the Leopards to less than 100 passing yards for the entire game, and stayed true by winning the turnover margin. Both sides of the ball helped Duke remain a perfect undefeated after two weeks.

Three key stats

1. 126 Rushing Yards for Lafayette

Lafayette was competitive for the first quarter, largely because of the elusive 5-foot-8 sophomore running back Jamar Curtis. Curtis stayed low to the ground and bounced off lineman, making it hard for the Blue Devils to tackle him. This is the second straight game Duke has allowed over 100 rushing yards, and to remain competitive in the ACC, the Blue Devils need the power to eliminate the run game from their future opponents.

2. 100% Completion Percentage

Shattering another single-game program record in the Elko Era, both Leonard and Belin IV looked extremely comfortable — courtesy of a fantastic offensive line performance. Neither quarterback was touched, as the Leopards did not record a single sack. The two combined for two passing touchdowns and completed passes to nine different receivers.

3. 35 Unanswered Points

Duke really started running away with the game after the first half, and it secured the victory in the turnover margin as the Leopards threw two interceptions. Rallying up the score provided the Blue Devils’ starters with some extra rest coming off a short week. Fans also got a great look at backup Belin IV, whose solid performance is promising news for the future of the program led by Elko. 

Looking Ahead

Duke’s next opponent is Northwestern, when the Blue Devils will play their third home game in a row. Coming off of a 38-7 win over UTEP, the Wildcats have an even record and will look to take revenge against Duke from last year in Evanston, Ill.. Although the Blue Devils will likely be favored once again, it is vital that they dial in to stay undefeated.


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