DUKE ROCKS CANES
Duke’s fans poured out of the Wallace Wade Stadium stands to engulf the Blue Devils Saturday night.
The band played the fight song and, every now and again, the clanging of the Victory Bell pierced the night.
Just as Duke ran over No. 24 Miami, gaining a whopping 358 rushing yards en route to a satisfying 48-30 win, many of the 30,044 fans who witnessed it swarmed their new heroes.
Duke (8-2, 4-2 in the ACC) had won for the sixth consecutive time, something that hasn’t happened since 1994. The Blue Devils now own two wins over ranked teams, something they haven’t done in the same season since 1971.
Duke won’t play another home game, but it will keep playing football into at least December as the Blue Devils let their fans know it’s okay to believe.
“We have built a mentality that at this point in the season we expect to win every game we play,” said Duke safety Jeremy Cash, who recorded 13 tackles against Miami. “Belief in one another.”
Everything remains possible for the Blue Devils, including a trip to the ACC Championship game in Charlotte and an invitation to a bowl game in a glamorous locale.
By topping Miami (7-3, 3-3) for the first time since 1976, Duke needs only to win its last two games — Saturday at Wake Forest and Nov. 30 at North Carolina – to win the Coastal Division and play for the ACC title for the first time.
The way Duke ran roughshod over a Miami team that was in the top 10 just a few weeks ago, the Blue Devils are armed with previously lacking confidence.
“Offensively, just unbelievable that we ran the football like we did and as consistently as we did,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “We intended to do that coming in and thank goodness we did it as well as we did.”
Duke’s rushing output was the most ever for a Cutcliffe coached team, including during his days as head coach at Mississippi (1998-2004).
Junior running back Josh Snead ran for a career-best 138 yards while sophomore Jela Duncan just missed the century mark, gaining 98 yards on 16 carries.
Quarterback Brandon Connette, sharing time under center with starter Anthony Boone, ran for four touchdowns — setting the school record for career rushing touchdowns (29) in the process.
“As a member of the offensive line, we’ve always had the confidence that we could run the ball,” Duke redshirt junior right guard Laken Tomlinson said. “There is no doubt, no matter who we play, that we can run the ball whenever they call upon us to do our job. That is what we do.”
They did it even after falling behind 10-0 and 17-7 early. After seeing Boone throw seven interceptions over the last two games, Cutcliffe and his offensive staff decided that the running game was the best way to go. Falling behind didn’t change that.
Duke turned to its rushing game to drive down the field and score touchdowns on its next two possessions to take a 21-20 halftime lead.
Duncan broke off an 18-yard run on the first play of the second half, starting another Duke touchdown drive. Connette ended it with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
After Miami scored on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Stephen Morris to Herb Waters and added a 31-yard field goal to regain the lead 30-28, the Blue Devils closed the game with 20 consecutive points.
Ross Martin’s 48-yard field goal — the ball bounced through off the left upright — put Duke in front 31-30 and served as a positive omen.
A 56-yard Snead run moved Duke into Miami’s red zone and Connette scored on a 4-yard run to give the Blue Devils a 38-30 lead with 11:37 to play.
“We wanted to impose that will,” Snead said. “We knew the team that was going to win this game had to be the toughest team. So we wanted to come out here and be physical and be tough mentally and we were.”
The back-breaker came on a fourth-and-1 play with 6:50 to play when Shaq Powell broke loose for a 33-yard touchdown run that put the game away.
The Blue Devils knew they were the more conditioned team and set about proving it.
“We figured out the fast tempo was getting to them pretty good,” Duke redshirt senior left guard Dave Harding said. “We wanted to get it going as much as possible. It’s really where our conditioning came in.”
After celebrating with the students and fans, Harding reflected on the monumental win in his final game at Wallace Wade Stadium.
“It’s a great way to see us off,” Harding said. “Another win over a top 25 opponent. We are well on our way with our sights set on Charlotte. It’s exciting to see the fruits of our labor. Just really speaks to what Coach Cut has been able to do here. Building a program.”
|DUKE 48, No. 24 MIAMI 30|
Mia—FG Goudis 32, 10:27.
Mia—Coley 79 punt return (Goudis kick), 9:33.
Duke—Connette 2 run (Martin kick), 6:22.
Mia—Waters 5 pass from Morris (Goudis kick), 2:01.
Duke—Powell 22 pass from Connette (Martin kick), 9:02.
Mia—FG Goudis 32, 4:42.
Duke—Connette 3 run (Martin kick), 2:01.
Duke—Connette 1 run (Martin kick), 11:50.
Mia—Waters 50 pass from Morris (Goudis kick), 11:12.
Mia—FG Goudis 31, 5:04.
Duke—FG Martin 48, 2:47.
Duke—Connette 4 run (Martin kick), 11:37.
Duke—Powell 33 run (Martin kick), 6:50.
Duke—FG Martin 32, 1:04.
|Time of Possession||31:59||28:01|
RUSHING—Miami, D.Crawford 19-115, Clements 1-28, Edwards 4-22,
Morris 4-18, Hagens 1-3. Duke, Snead 9-138, Duncan 16-98, Powell 7-59,
Connette 11-37, Crowder 1-13, Boone 6-11, Thompson 1-4,
Team 1-(minus 2).
PASSING—Miami, Morris 30-49-1-379. Duke, Boone 11-15-0-104,
RECEIVING—Miami, Waters 9-116, Hurns 8-107, D.Crawford 3-48,
Hagens 3-42, M.Lewis 2-27, Walford 2-19, Coley 2-10, Scott 1-10. Duke,
Crowder 6-53, Deaver 3-30, Braxton 2-24, Powell 2-23, McCaffrey 1-43,
Duncan 1-8, Blakeney 1-4.