DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke Blue Devils dominated the Kansas Jayhawks in a lopsided 41-3 victory in front of 25,203 in attendance at Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday.
It might have taken Kansas head coach Charlie Weis and his team the entire trip back to Lawrence to realize just what they didn’t do and everything that Duke did to dominate the Big 12 opponent who made its first-ever trip to the Bull City.
“Our team played well as a team,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said.
“I thought our staff did a terrific job this week of havin’ our squad prepared for everything Kansas could do.”
Duke running back Shaun Wilson was the offensive star of the game, setting a school record for total yards rushed in a game as well as matching the record for total points scored in a game (18) by a freshman, posting 245 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries – finishing the game with a 20.4 yards per carry average.
Along with Wilson, running backs Josh Snead (5 carries, 24 yards), Shaquille Powell (6 carries, 22 yards), and Joseph Ajeigbe (7 carries, 22 yards) helped round out the Blue Devils’ ground attack to finish with 331 total yards.
Duke quarterback Anthony Boone put together another exceptional body of work as a starter that resulted in his 13th consecutive career regular-season win and pushed Duke’s season record to 3-0.
Boone went 19-for-33 and produced two touchdown passes and threw a total of 180 yards on the day.
Wide receiver Max McCaffrey was the recipient of both of Boone’s scoring passes, 36 and 10-yard receptions that gave him his first touchdowns of the season.
Along with McCaffrey, receivers Issac Blakeney (4 catches, 38 yards), and Jamison Crowder (2 catches, 14 yards) made plays in tight spots as the Kansas defense paid close attention to both of them.
Though Boone couldn’t connect with them on some attempted long balls, the field was opened up enough to keep Duke’s offense rolling, on the ground and in the air, throughout the game.
While the offense posted points in all four quarters, it was Duke’s defensive stand to force Kansas to punt on a three-and-out first series to start the game that set the tone early on.
Safety Jeremy Cash (12 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 0.5 TFL, 1 QBH) and David Helton (11 tackles, 1 QBH), along with Deondre Singleton (9 tackles) and DeVon Edwards (7 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU) led the Blue Devils defense that intercepted and sacked Jayhawks quarterback Montell Cozart twice and kept him to 89 yards passing on the day.
“I’m so proud of our defense and how we played,” Helton said.
“From the D-line to the linebackers to the secondary, it was an all-around effort from everybody and it was really something to be proud of. Of course, we’re proud of our freshman on the offense and what our older offense was able to do. It was just an all-around great team effort.”
Duke scored on its first possession and led 7-0 at the 11:33 mark on McCaffrey’s first touchdown catch that completed a six-play, 60-yard drive.
Bryon Fields made a big pass breakup with Kansas sitting at third-and-7 to go from its own 32 with 9:59 to play in the opening quarter.
DeVon Edwards then intercepted Cozart’s pass attempt just eight seconds later and put Duke in position to score again.
A swing pass to Snead eventually put the Blue Devils on the two-yard line before place kicker Ross Martin put the ball through the uprights to extend the lead to 10-0 with 7:13 remaining.
A 69-yard touchdown run by Wilson soon followed as Boone handed him the ball and he saw nothing but the end zone from the Duke 31-yard line, and put Duke ahead by 17 points.
Kansas salvaged a 34-yard field goal on a 10-play, 54-yard drive after the Duke defense handcuffed the Jayhawks offense on repeated chances to score up until then.
Carrying a 14-point lead into the second quarter, Evrett Edwards came up with the first interception of his career and returned it 34 yards to put Duke on the Kansas 25-yard line.
Following a rush by Snead, quarterback Thomas Sirk (1-2) came into the game to take snaps and eventually advanced the ball to the two-yard line.
An offensive penalty pushed Duke back to the Kansas 17-yard line, but Martin booted his second field goal of the game to extend the Duke lead back up to 17 points, leading 20-3 with 10:32 to play in the half.
Seven minutes later, Blakeney lost an opportunity to put the Blue Devils ahead further.
He was called for offensive pass interference after he made an 81-yard reception to score.
Unable to score for the remainder of the half, Duke kept the Jayhawks off the sheet as well.
Halftime: Duke 20, Kansas 3
As both teams traded possession back and forth during the first half of the third quarter, Boone connected with McCaffrey on his second touchdown reception of the game, capping off an 8-play, 80-yard drive that pushed the Duke lead to 27-3 with 5:23 remaining.
It was the first game of McCaffrey’s career in which he caught multiple touchdown passes.
“I was just runnin’ my route,” McCaffrey said.
“I was fortunate enough to have Boone throw great passes on those. I got hit on the five each time and just thought I had to get in there.”
Wilson soon scored on a 68-yard rush, his second touchdown of the day, and put the Blue Devils ahead 34-3 to end the quarter.
With the Jayhawks continuing to struggle offensively, Duke got the ball back and Wilson rushed 45 more yards to score his third touchdown, finalizing the score at 41-3 with 3:57 remaining.
While the scoring run pushed Wilson into the Duke record book, matching the record for total points scored in a game by a freshman, he was one yard short of the all-time rushing record for yards gained in a game, set by Robert Baldwin back in 1994.
With the ball in its possession, Duke had five seconds remaining on the clock, and Cutcliffe, at the request of running backs coach Re’quan Boyette, agreed to run the play that eventually put the ball into Wilson’s hands for the last and record-breaking play of the game.
“Re’quan almost ran over me to tell me,” Cutcliffe said.
“I said, ‘Okay, no problem for that, but I’m not gonna’ take timeouts, I’m not gonna’ stop the clock to do this’. So when we got the stop on defense, I said ‘run it’. Everybody goin’ in knew, ‘block – let’s get this thing’. I really didn’t want him to break a run in that circumstance. I actually told him, ‘if you find yourself broke, just go down’. Happy that he could get the yardage.”
With the victory, the Blue Devils extended their home win streak to six games, dating back to last season, and are undefeated following the first three games of the season for the first time since 1994.