Duke rushes past Elon
DURHAM — For years, the phrase was same old Duke. Those were lean years in wins.
Proudly holding the Coastal Division title from a year ago, the Blue Devils had many new faces Saturday night when they rolled past Elon 52-13 in Wallace Wade Stadium.
A cleanly played game (no turnover, six penalties combined) displayed a Duke squad that is buoyed by playmakers and searching for cohesion within its units, such as special teams.
“We had players make plays, but I want to see us play better as a team,” said Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. “And we’ll do that. Trust me, we will.”
But he was beaming in the success of the evening. The Blue Devils rolled in front 28-6 at intermission and finished with a 567-328 edge in total yards.
Anthony Boone threw two of his four touchdown passes in the second quarter, hitting Jamison Crowder (46 yards) and Issac Blakeney (19) around Shaquille Powell’s 2-yard scoring run.
Six players ran the football at a 6 yards per clip average.
Defensively, DeVon Edwards and Bryon Fields led with seven and six tackles and Dezmond Johnson and Carlos Wray each sacked Mike Quinn.
“Our running game went to a hurry up, high tempo,” Crowder said. “And they were able to get eight and nine yards running and mix the quick passes.”
Boone said the Blue Devils have a mentality genuinely expecting to win each game on the schedule.
“We practice to win,” Boone said. “We’re playing for keeps.”
Neither team was very good on third downs. Elon was 4-for-14 and Duke 3-for-12, but the Blue Devils ran 86 plays and had fewer third downs within drives.
Since finishing last season 10-4 and returning to the college football world’s bigger stage, Duke saw the departures of Brandon Connette (transfer, family related), linebacker Kelby Brown (injury) and tight end Braxton Deever (injury). The Blue Devils were still forecast in the crowded mix for the Coastal crown, but expectations wavered.
“They were huge when they happened,” Powell said. “But we couldn’t dwell on it. Offensively and defensively, we had to step up. I think we performed at a high level on both sides.”
While not flamboyant in the victory, Duke was solid.
Boone was 22 of 33 for 247 yards. Thomas Sirk and Parker Boehme also saw action. Crowder had two touchdowns in his seven catches; Blakeney had two among his four.
Josh Snead ran for 74 yards, Shaun Wilson 71, and Powell and Sirk 54 each.
“We had a lot of guys playing their first college football game,” Cutcliffe said.
“We do have players making plays.”
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