Healthy at last, Anthony Boone shines in win over Wake

Nov. 23, 2013 @ 06:53 PM

His play never cost Anthony Boone his starting quarterback job for Duke this season.

After missing three entire games with a broken collarbone, Boone had some struggles even though Duke kept winning football games at an impressive pace.

That caused Duke coach David Cutcliffe to make the quarterback job a timeshare between Boone and Brandon Connette over the last two weeks.

On Saturday at Wake Forest’s BB&T Field, Boone grabbed hold of the job with a fierce grip.

A redshirt junior, Boone completed 24 of 29 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns leading Duke to a 28-21 win over Wake Forest.

Just two weeks removed from a three-interception day against N.C. State, Boone wasn’t picked off nor was he sacked as he led Duke past Wake for its seventh consecutive win.

“Anthony has kid of gotten back in his rhythm,” Cutcliffe said. “He’s healthier now, which always helps.”

After suffering the injury on Sept. 7, Boone didn’t return until an Oct. 12 35-7 win over Navy. He completed 31 of 38 passes that day for 295 yards and three touchdowns.

All appeared totally fine.

But Cutcliffe said Boone was still working out the kinks from his time off.

“The reality is that it takes time,” Cutcliffe said. “The reason Brandon didn’t play more today is he went in pretty beat up. We weren’t sure where that was going to be when we started warming up. We made a decision to play Anthony in the second half which was obviously a good decision.”

Boone completed 14 consecutive passes during one stretch of Saturday’s game. Over his last two games, including a 48-30 win over Miami, Boone has completed 35 of 44 passes.

His first three drives against Wake Forest yielded no points, though. He finally got it cranked up late in the second quarter and led two second-half touchdown drives.

“Early on we got a lot of pressure (from Wake’s defense),” Boone said. “They started dialing up some pressure. I didn’t have time in the pocket to set my feet. In the second half, (the offensive line) protected a lot better and kept guys off of me.”

His biggest throw of the second half was a 58-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder in which they picked on cornerback Allen Ramsey, who had just replaced injured starter Merrill Noel.

“We were just playing ball,” Crowder said. “If the good guy goes down, you never know how the backup is. So we wanted to give it a shot. Once we got the play I just wanted to make sure I made the play. Everything worked out.”

Boone’s standout day kept Duke’s dreams of its first outright ACC Coastal Division championship very much alive. The Blue Devils (9-2, 5-2 in ACC) have clinched at least a share of the title, but need to win at North Carolina on Saturday to win the division championship outright and earn a trip to the Dec. 7 ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.

A loss at UNC would eliminate the Blue Devils from title-game consideration.

Boone, one of Duke’s team captains, wants his team to focus on the solid work that has got it to this point.

“We just want to go out and win this next game,” Boone said. “It happens to be Carolina and it happens to be for high stakes.”