Duke shuts out N.C. Central, 45-0

Aug. 31, 2013 @ 11:50 PM

No pictures afterward. And a player from Henderson almost didn’t even allow the thought.

Linebacker Tazmon Foster, a former Northern Vance standout, just missed his third career touchdown. Turns out, it was the closest N.C. Central came to scoring.

Duke was in command throughout, methodically pushing aside the Eagles 45-0 Saturday night in the second annual Bull City Gridiron Classic. The matchup of crosstown programs, complete with a cross country dual meet beforehand and presentations by both bands at intermission, brought out 22,521 to Wallace Wade Stadium but not very much excitement in the outcome of the season-opener for each program.

Duke’s last shutout win was 41-0 win at North Carolina in 1989, when Steve Spurrier and his team posed for a picture under a scoreboard. The last shutout at Wallace Wade by a Duke team was 1978 against Wake Forest, 3-0.

“In this modern era, it’s difficult,” said Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. “And it wasn’t a fluke.”

Duke snapped a five-game losing streak to last year’s first bowl season since 1994. Central, coming off its first winning season since 2007, crossed midfield just once.

“The guys at the end had just as much pride,” said leading tackler Kelby Brown. “It was discipline, not letting up even though we were up big.”

The Blue Devils of the ACC missed a field goal their first possession, then sandwiched Jamison Crowder’s 76-yard punt return score amid three consecutive touchdown drives in as many possessions to lead 28-0 at intermission.

Foster had a fumble recovery for a touchdown with eight minutes left in the first half until it was overturned on replay. Duke redshirt freshman Anthony Nash had appeared to drop his first career catch, but was ruled without possession before losing the handle.

“I thought it was a little deflating,” said interim N.C.

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Central head coach Dwayne Foster. “It could have been a big turnaround at that point, getting on the board.”

Instead of pulling within two scores, Duke moved on to a fourth touchdown.

Duke had first-half scoring runs from quarterbacks Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone, and a scoring pass from Connette to Braxton Deaver. In the second half, the Devils scored on Jela Duncan’s run, Issac Blakeney’s catch from Connette and Ross Martin’s field goal.

Duke had edges of 488-184 in yards, 27-9 in first downs and committed just one turnover against the Eagles of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in the Football Championship Subdivision.

“Last year was disappointing with the way the season ended,” said senior Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell. “But it’s a next-play mentality.”

The players and Cutcliffe spoke in terms of doing what was expected against Central. Now the next play is Saturday at Memphis.

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.