DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke Blue Devils (1-0) opened the 2018 season with a 34-14 win over Army (0-1) on Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium on Friday.
Quarterback Daniel Jones completed 13-of-17 pass attempts, and threw for 197 yards and a touchdown as well as claiming one for himself as the Duke running game posted points on three rushes past the goal line.
Running backs Brittain Brown (11 rushes, 75 yards) and Deon Jackson (7 rushes, 25 yards) converted on the ground for Duke while wide receiver Aaron Young claimed a 25-yard pass for a touchdown, one of his four catches for 114 total yards, as the Blue Devils finished with 381 all-purpose yards.
Defensively, Dylan Singleton led Duke with 11 total tackles followed by nine from Koby Quansah and seven each from Joe Giles-Harris and Edgar Cerenord.
Carrying a conservative 3-0 lead after the opening quarter, a rushing touchdown from Brown and a 61-yard passing sequence to Young set up Jones for his first rushing score of the season as the Blue Devils extended their lead to 17 points.
Shutting out the Army offense, Duke carried its 17-0 lead into the halftime break.
The third quarter presented a back-and-forth series of drives that provided for some more excitement for the crowd of 26,017 as the Black Knights finally put a few chinks in the Blue Devils’ defensive armor.
Compounded with the loss of linebacker and captain Joe Giles-Harris for a time, the Duke secondary was caught off guard on a series of passing plays that eventually led to Army scores.
A tenacious drive – 11 plays over 55 yards – eventually paid dividends as quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, Jr. converted a three-yard run for a touchdown at the 5:44 mark of the third quarter and cut the Blue Devils lead to 10.
While Jackson’s rush into the end zone on the next series gave the crowd reason to rise from their seats once more, a 28-yard Hopkins, Jr. pass to Kell Walker softened the Blue Devils defense that couldn’t recover a fumble forced by safety Damani Neal.
The recovery eventually resulted in a 45-yard reception by receiver Cam Harrison as Army pulled to within 10, trailing 24-14 heading into the final quarter.
Though pushed harder to cap off what first appeared to be an easy victory, Duke’s defense helped finish the game, shutting down a 45-yard field goal attempt with 6:45 to play.
With the help of place kicker Collin Wareham’s second field goal of the game, the Blue Devils outscored the Black Knights 10-0 in the final quarter and posted a seventh consecutive season-opening win, the first time the program has done so since a similar run from 1949-1955.
Notables: In the two teams’ 26th meeting, a series dating back to 1944, Duke extended its lead in the series to 14-11-1…Winning 10 of the past 13 meetings, the Blue Devils successfully avenged a 21-16 loss to the Black Knights last year…Four Blue Devils made their first career starts, a group that included Brown, Rakavius Chambers, Robert Kraeling, and Derrick Tangelo.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport