Duke rolls to easy win at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech dominated Duke until the Hokies fumbled Friday night.

The Blue Devils did all the dominating from there.

A second-quarter fumble triggered an uprising that saw the Blue Devils score 31 consecutive points on the way to an 45-10 ACC football win over Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium.

Duke quarterback Quentin Harris fired two touchdown passes and ran 42-yards for another to pace the Blue Devils (3-1, 1-0 ACC). Both of Harris’ touchdown throws went to junior tight end Noah Gray on plays covering 16 and 1 yards during Duke’s 21-point second quarter.

Virginia Tech (2-2, 0-2) led 3-0 and held Duke to eight yards of total offense in the first quarter.

But the game changed with 11:25 left in the second quarter when Virginia Tech reserve quarterback Hendon Hooker fumbled on a play from the Hokies 40. The ball rolled backward toward the end zone before Duke linebacker Koby Quansah fell on it at the Virginia Tech 16.

On the next play, Harris fired a 16-yard touchdown pass to Gray to give Duke the lead for good.

After Virginia Tech went three-and-out before punting, Harris led Duke on a 67-yard scoring drive. It ended with his 1-yard touchdown pass to Gray.

Just before halftime, the Blue Devils drove 91 yards on nine plays for their third touchdown. Jalon Calhoun’s 25-yard pass to running back Deon Jackson on a trick play gave Duke a 21-3 halftime lead.

Harris finished 20 of 27 passing for 163 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 17 times for 100 yards with a touchdown.

Duke gained 422 total yards while not turning the ball over. Virginia Tech turned the ball over twice with Duke converting both opportunities into touchdowns.

First down

The Blue Devils overwhelmed the Hokies with big plays on offense. Harris scored on a 42-yard run, Deon Jackson added a 32-yard touchdown run while also catching a 25-yard touchdown pass from Calhoun.


Duke’s 3-1 start to the season continues its recent trend of fast starts. It’s the seventh time in the last eight seasons Duke has recorded at least three wins prior to October. The only time Duke started with just two wins before October was in 2016 when the Blue Devils finished 4-8. That’s the Blue Devils’ only season without a bowl appearance since 2011. Duke started 4-0 in 2014, 2017 and 2018.

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Duke’s offense, particularly its line, struggled in the first quarter while Virginia Tech took a 3-0 lead. The Blue Devils’ first three possessions all ended in punts. The only first down Duke gained was due to a Virginia Tech penalty. Duke had 17 yards on those first 11 plays, including the 9-yard gain on a Hokies’ pass interference penalty. Things changed dramatically after that.


Calhoun’s touchdown pass to Jackson in the final minute of the first half on a trick play made all kinds of sense. Harris tossed a pass behind him to Calhoun for a lateral. That allowed Calhoun, who was a prep quarterback in South Carolina, to throw a forward pass. He tossed it from the left sideline to the right side, where a wide-open Jackson caught the ball at the 5 for an easy 25-yard scoring play.

Key numbers

1: Sacks allowed by Duke through four games this season. The Blue Devils haven’t allowed a sack over their last three games.

6.1: Average yards per play gained by the Blue Devils against Virginia Tech. This despite gaining only five total yards on eight plays in the first quarter.

35: Margin of victory for the Blue Devils on Friday night, their most lopsided win in an ACC game under David Cutcliffe. The previous largest margins were in Duke’s 48-20 win over Miami in 2013 and a 31-3 win over Virginia in 2008.

An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.