Connette, defense shine as Duke wins after losing QB Boone

Sep. 07, 2013 @ 10:30 PM

Brandon Connette, subbing for injured starter Anthony Boone, threw for 198 yards and a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to lead Duke past Memphis 28-14 on Saturday afternoon.

The victory marked the first time since 1998 that the Blue Devils have opened the season 2-0, and like in their opener against North Carolina Central, the defense showed good signs at times in the victory over the Tigers (0-1).

Connette was 14 of 21 after entering in the second quarter when Boone, the Duke starter, left the game with an injury to his right side and didn’t return.

Connette broke open a 14-14 tie with touchdown passes of 22 yards to Issac Blakeney and 12 yards to Brandon Braxton in the final frame

Memphis scored its touchdowns on a 75-yard interception return by Bobby McCain in the first half and an 11-yard run by Jai Steib. Steib’s came in the early stages of the fourth quarter before Connette’s passing put it out of reach.

Duke big-play receiver Jamison Crowder finished the game with 11 catches for 140 yards.

Duke’s defense at times stymied the Memphis offense, limiting the Tigers to only 1 yard of offense in the second quarter and holding Memphis without a first down from the first quarter to the midway point of the third.

Duke ended the game with 470 yards of offense to 237 for Memphis, 70 of those coming in three plays when Memphis tied the score at 14 early in the fourth.

Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, a redshirt freshman starting his first game, finished the day completing 14 of 24 passes for 148 yards.

Both teams lost a pair of fumbles.

The game was a return to the area for Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who coached Ole Miss, located just over an hour south of Memphis for six seasons.

The first half was dominated by the Duke defense, which allowed the Tigers only 72 yards of offense, including the 1 net yard in the second quarter. Memphis recorded only two first downs in the half against a Duke defense that shutout North Carolina Central last Saturday 45-0.

But, while the Blue Devils were collecting 176 yards of offense, the teams were tied at 7.

The Duke touchdown came on a 23-yard run by Boone in the first quarter.

But Boone’s only interception of the game led to Memphis’ only score. Tiger cornerback Bobby McCain cut in front of a Boone pass to Crowder and with a convoy of Tigers escorting him, he went 75 yards to tie the game on the first play of the second quarter.

The Memphis offense continued to struggle in the early stages of the third, but Duke could at least manage an 8-yard scoring run by Juwan Thompson to take the lead at 14-7.

When the Memphis offense got untracked, it resulted in a 3-play, 70-yard drive, the final 11 coming on a scoring pass from Lynch to Steib.

At that point, Connette connected on the pair of touchdown passes to provide Duke its best start in 15 years.


Duke 7 0 7 14—28
Memphis 0 7 0 7—14
First Quarter

Duke—Boone 23 run (Martin kick), 11:45.

Second Quarter

Mem—McCain 75 interception return (Elliott kick), 14:45.

Third Quarter

Duke—Thompson 8 run (Martin kick), 9:25.

Fourth Quarter

Mem—Steib 11 run (Elliott kick), 11:38.

Duke—Blakeney 22 pass from Connette (Martin kick), 9:50.

Duke—Braxton 12 pass from Connette (Martin kick), 6:56.



  Duke Mem
First downs 25 12
Rushes-yards 45-173 33-89
Passing 297 148
Comp-Att-Int 25-37-1 14-24-0
Return Yards 16 88
Punts-Avg. 5-49.6 7-45.6
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 2-2
Penalties-Yards 6-52 5-60
Time of Possession 34:43 25:17



RUSHING—Duke, Thompson 14-67, Duncan 7-31, Connette 14-31,

Snead 6-25, Boone 2-23, Team 2-(minus 4). Memphis, Hayes 15-39,

Lynch 8-29, Craft 1-14, Steib 4-10, Warford 5-(minus 3).

PASSING—Duke, Connette 14-21-0-198, Boone 11-16-1-99. Memphis,

Lynch 14-24-0-148.

RECEIVING—Duke, Crowder 11-140, Deaver 5-66, Braxton 3-23,

Blakeney 1-22, Thompson 1-21, McCaffrey 1-11, Duncan 1-7, Barnes 1-5,

Snead 1-2. Memphis, Warford 4-19, Craig 3-15, T.Jones 2-49,

Frazier 1-32, Hayes 1-20, Milleson 1-8, Henderson 1-4, Cross 1-1.

GAME NOTES/Courtesy Duke Sports Information

CAPTAINS & COIN TOSS: Duke’s captains for the game were QB Anthony Boone, CB Ross Cockrell, DE Justin Foxx and OG Dave Harding … Duke won the opening kickoff and deferred to the second half … Duke elected to defend the north goal.

101ST SEASON: Duke kicked off its 101st season of football and played its 987th game … Duke now holds an all-time record of 467-490-31.

DUKE MOVES TO 2-0: For the first time since 1998, Duke started the season 2-0.

CONNETTE LEADS DUKE TO WIN: Redshirt junior QB Brandon Connette took over in the second quarter after starting QB Anthony Boone left the game with an upper body injury and did not return ... Connette directed back-to-back touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, throwing touchdown passes of 22 yards to Issac Blakeney and 11 yards to Brandon Braxton.

DUKE DEFENSE HOLDS DOWN MEMPHIS: Duke’s defense held Memphis to just 237 yards for the game, including 89 yards on the ground … The Tigers averaged just 4.2 yards per play and converted just 2-of-13 third downs and 0-of-4 fourth downs … Duke recovered two fumbles, posted one sack and six tackles for loss.

SCORELESS STREAK ENDS: Duke’s defensive scoreless streak extended to seven full quarters before Memphis scored its first offensive touchdown with 11:38 remaining in the game … Duke shut out N.C. Central in the opening game and held Memphis’ offense without a score for the first three periods.

BOONE INJURED: Starting QB Anthony Boone suffered an upper body injury midway through the second quarter and did not return … backup Brandon Connette took over in his place and completed 14-of-21 passes for 198 yards two touchdowns and no interceptions.

BIG PLAYS: Duke posted six offensive plays of 20+ yards on the day, including three in the fourth quarter … The Blue Devils have nine offensive plays of 20+ yards this season and at least three in its first two games … Four of those players were on Connette passes.

THIRD DOWN: Duke converted 10-of-18 (.556) third downs on the day … Duke converted four of its first five third downs … Duke is converting 17-of-31 (.548) third downs on the season.

DUKE SURRENDERS FIRST SACK: Duke attempted 48 passes before allowing its first sack of 2013 ... Duke is averaging 21.7 pass attempts between sack this season.

DE KENNY ANUNIKE: Totaled 2.5 tackles for loss for his fourth career game with multiple tackles for loss … Finished with five tackles on the day, including two solo stops.

QB ANTHONY BOONE: Left the game in the second quarter with a collarbone injury and did not return … Scored the first points of the game on a career-long 23-yard touchdown run on third down in the first quarter … The rushing touchdown was Boone’s eighth of his career Completed the 100th pass of his Duke career.

WR ISSAC BLAKENEY: Caught a touchdown pass in the second straight game … his 22-yard touchdown reception from Brandon Connette put Duke ahead 21-14 with under 10 minutes remaining in the game … it was Blakeney’s second TD reception of the season and third of his career.

WR BRANDON BRAXTON: Drew his first start of the season and caught a 12-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter for his second career touchdown reception … The touchdown reception put Duke ahead 28-14 with 6:56 remaining … Finished with three receptions for 23 yards.

CB ROSS COCKRELL: Recorded two pass breakups on deep balls on the same Memphis drive immediately after Duke scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter … both PBUs came on deep throws in single coverage … Moved into a tie for second place on Duke’s all-time PBU list with 32, sitting alongside Erwin Sampson (1988-91) and Wyatt Smith (1988-91).

WR JAMISON CROWDER: Caught a career-high 11 passes for 140 yards … Recorded his 100th career reception, becoming the 17th Duke player to reach that mark … Posted his sixth career 100-yard receiving game and first such game of the season.

DE DEZMOND JOHNSON: Grabbed his second fumble recovery of the year … Returned the fumble eight yards.

P WILL MONDAY: Averaged 49.6 yards on five punts to boost his season average to 40.4 … Booted a season-long 66-yarder early in the fourth quarter to move the ball from Duke’s 14-yard line to the Memphis 30.

CB GARETT PATTERSON: Broke up two passes and recovered a fumble at the Duke 24-yard line … Those were Patteron’s first career pass breakups and fumble recovery … Also logged a pair of tackles.

RB JUWAN THOMPSON: Put Duke ahead 14-7 with an eight-yard rushing touchdown to cap Duke’s first drive of the second half … The rushing touchdown was the ninth of Thompson’s career, the second most of active Blue Devils behind only Connette (18) … Finished with a team-high 67 rushing yards on 14 carries. The 67 rushing yards were his most in a game since a 69-yard effort against Tulane in 2011.