DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke Blue Devils (4-0) extended their perfect start to the season with a 55-13 win over crosstown neighbor N.C. Central (1-2) on Saturday.
Quarterback Quentin Harris threw for 202 yards on 15 completions on 27 throws and made good on three touchdown passes, in addition to rushing for 34 yards and a score for himself.
Running back Brittain Brown and tight end Davis Koppenhaver each scored two touchdowns, while Jonathan Lloyd, Deon Jackson, and Nicodem Pierre all converted single scoring drives.
Maintaining bragging rights as the winner of the Bull City Gridiron Classic title for a seventh time over the Eagles, a matchup first established in 2009, the Blue Devils did not play a flawless game by any means.
Specifically, the first half showed a lack of focus on both sides of the ball.
It looked as though Duke would run away with this one early, leading 20-0 with 6:10 remaining in the opening quarter.
A missed PAT by kicker Collin Wareham provided a head-scratching moment.
Then the Blue Devils defense broke down and the Eagles managed to finish a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 20-yard rushing TD from Isaiah Totten.
The offense then provided its own mishap that resulted in a 55-yard fumble recovery score by Central’s Jordan McCrae that brought the margin down to seven points.
Struggling to convert from the red zone on consecutive possessions, Duke eventually connected to extend its lead to 27-13 at halftime.
Coming out from the locker room, the Blue Devils reestablished their play to the standard that was expected.
A strong defensive stand early in the second half got the ball back in their hands which Brown made good on with a 44-yard rushing touchdown.
Backup QB Chris Katrenick came into the game for Harris who was injured, and completed 5-of-12 pass attempts, and converted on a touchdown pass during his first sequence of plays.
Duke’s lead stood at 41-13 by the 8:49 mark of the period and the Devils were back on track to complete the rout of the Eagles.
Short-yard rushes from Jackson and Pierre rounded out the game’s scoring.
The Blue Devils’ 628 total all-purpose yards eclipsed the Eagles total of 187 yards, as the defense limited Central to eight total yards during the entire second half.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport