BLACKSBURG, VA. – Quarterback Thomas Sirk rushed for the game-winning two-point conversion that the 23rd-ranked Duke Blue Devils needed to top the Virginia Tech Hokies for a thrilling 45-43 victory in the fourth overtime period at Lane Stadium on Saturday.
The play stunned the 63,247 in attendance as the redshirt junior completed a career-best 109 yards in rushing on 18 carries.
Sirk got the job done in the air too – throwing for 270 yards, reaching the 200-yard mark for the third time this season, while connecting on four touchdown passes, surpassing his total of two in the previous four games combined.
“I think he’s a great leader,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said of his quarterback.
“He’s one of our captains, one of our two captains, and I think he does a great job himself. They know how hard he works and how hard he has worked. He’s totally committed to his teammates. He’s a quarterback and it’s never about him. I love that about him, he’s a servant leader.”
Wide receiver Max McCaffrey caught six passes for a career-best 94 yards, and tied a career high with two touchdown receptions in the first quarter.
Shaun Wilson (4 carries, 60 yards) rushed for a 58-yard touchdown early in the third quarter, while Anthony Nash (3 catches, 72 yards) and Erich Schneider (3 catches, 40 yards) made career catches in the end zone during the second and fourth overtime periods that helped keep Duke’s hopes of winning alive.
In between touchdowns, placekicker Ross Martin, Duke’s all-time points leader converted three field goals on five attempts, one in the fourth quarter and two during the first and third overtime periods – from 38 and 20 yards respectively.
On defense, safety DeVon Edwards led the team and tied his career high with 15 tackles, while midseason All-America safety Jeremy Cash tallied 11 tackles along with 2.5 tackles for lost yardage.
ACC Digital Network (TheACC.com)
Duke led 14-10 at halftime, 24-16 early in the fourth quarter, before Virginia Tech (3-5, 1-3) tied it up with 2:07 remaining in regulation.
With the win, Duke remained undefeated in ACC play (3-0), and improved to 6-1 overall in consecutive years for the first time since 1952-53, and became bowl eligible for the fourth straight year.
The four-overtime game was the longest in program history, with a double-overtime game being the longest the Blue Devils had ever played prior – a 51-48 victory at Pittsburgh last season.
“Basically when you lose the fourth quarter which is not pleasant, we let a game that we pretty much had in hand slip through our fingers,” Cutcliffe said on Sunday when looking back on the win.
“Our team was resilient, mentally tough, and physically tough in that ball game – just a lot of good play by a lot of people on both sides of the ball.”
Cutcliffe and Duke now prepare to face the Miami Hurricanes at Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday.