Duke drops first game of the season, falls to undefeated Miami

Duke's Ben Humphreys takes down Miami's Mark Walton (1), Friday, September 29, 2017, in Wallace Wade Stadium.
Duke's Ben Humphreys takes down Miami's Mark Walton (1), Friday, September 29, 2017, in Wallace Wade Stadium. bthomas@heraldsun.com

This time Miami didn’t need eight laterals at the last second to defeat Duke at Wallace Wade Stadium. All the Hurricanes needed was their stout defense and a solid performance from junior quarterback Malik Rosier in a 31-6 win over the Blue Devils.

Miami (3-0, 1-0) jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, thanks to two scores by Rosier. Rosier was responsible for three touchdowns on the night, two through the air. Duke, which came into the game looking to go 5-0 for the first time since 1994, struggled on offense. The Blue Devils came into the night averaging 470 yards per game, but finished with just 349.

Duke ran 26 more plays than Miami, but saw its red-zone woes continue, going 2-for-3 inside the 20, having to settle for a pair of field goals in the opening half.

Rosier started the game 8-for-8 with 155 yards passing and a touchdown in the first quarter. On Miami’s opening drive he hit Leesville Road High School alum Braxton Berrios for a 25-yard touchdown. On the following drive Rosier took it in himself from the 1-yard line. Even when he came down to earth in the second quarter – three straight incomplete passes, sacked three times – the Canes still lead by a big margin, 17-6, at the break.

The Duke scores came courtesy of two Austin Parker field goals. Michael Badgley added a 20-yard field goal in the second quarter for Miami’s final score of the first half.

Even though it had two scoring drives, Duke’s longest drive of the first half came up empty. On their opening possession of the game the Blue Devils used 13 plays to move inside the red zone, setting up shop on the Miami 13 after a 6-yard run from Jones. Duke decided to go for it on fourth-and-1, but Jones was dropped for a loss of 11 yards by Michael Pinkley, who was all over the field in the first half. His second-quarter interception of Jones led to Badgley’s field goal before the break.

The Duke defense buckled down in the second quarter. Miami had 182 yards of total offense in the first quarter but was held to 32 in the second. Even when the Blue Devils’ defense got the ball back to the offense by way of a Bryon Fields interception midway through the third, Duke couldn’t come up with any points. The Blue Devils entered the game trailing only Clemson (21) in the ACC in total touchdowns. The last time they didn’t reach the end zone was Oct. 3, 2015 when they defeated Boston College, 9-3, thanks to three Ross Martin field goals.

The final nail in the coffin came early in the fourth when Rosier hit Ahmmon Richards for a 49-yard touchdown with 11:02 remaining in the game, sending many of the Duke fans toward the exits. Travis Homer added another score, a 40-yard run, for good measure later in the fourth. Miami had five total sacks coming into the game but had no problems getting to Jones (21-for-41, 166 yards), dropping the sophomore from Charlotte five times. Rosier finished with 270 yards passing and another 45 on the ground.

The Blue Devils will hit the road for just the second time this season when they travel to Virginia next weekend.