TSX: Blue Devils Keep Rolling

Duke football has now won three straight games after rallying against FIU

The Blue Devils suddenly have found a knack for winning in close games.

Twice in a three-week period they kept opponents out of the end zone at the end of games and those instances unfolded into victories.

So Duke has a three-game winning streak heading into an open date on the schedule.

For years, the Blue Devils have been harping on the importance of creating a winning mindset and that might be unfolding. Both of their late-game escapes -- vs. Boston College and Florida International -- came in road games, so that makes those outings even more credible.

Duke rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Florida International, 31-27. Perhaps the most interesting feature for the pass-happy Blue Devils is that their final two touchdowns in the comeback were scored by running back Juwan Thompson on running plays. He scored from 9 yards and 6 yards.

--The Blue Devils received plenty of production, as often is the case, from their two receivers from Miami. WR Conner Vernon and WR Donovan Varner made hometown returns memorable against Florida International by racking up 117 and 111 receiving yards, respectively. They accounted for 15 receptions (or more than half of the team's 28 total catches) in the game.

--Duke scored 17 first-quarter points against Florida International and only 14 points for the rest of the game. The first-quarter scoring came after Duke managed a total of 21 points in the first quarters of its first four games combined.

KEEP AN EYE ON: TE Cooper Helfet -- He has flown a bit under the radar this season after he was expected to be a key component for the offense. He made two catches that both went for more than 20 yards against Florida International, including one for a 22-yard touchdown play.

LOOKING GOOD: S Walt Canty posted 13 tackles against Florida International and he also was credited with two forced fumbles and a pass breakup. He has become an ideal complement for S Matt Daniels in the secondary.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The Blue Devils' defense has trouble keeping opponents in holes and that can result in some exhausting stretches. Florida International had the ball for more than 18 1/2 minutes in the second half. Part of the problem for Duke was that it surrendered third-down conversions on 8 out of 15 situations, though a late-game stand made all the difference in that game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Maybe two years ago, we get down 10 points like this in the fourth and we'd get beat by 20." -- coach David Cutcliffe, whose team has won two games this year decided by four points or less.


--The Blue Devils had RB Desmond Scott back for the first time since the opener. He played sparingly after missing time with an injured left knee.

--With K Will Snyderwine back on board for the place-kicking duties after an ankle injury early in the season, the Blue Devils seem comfortable splitting the kicking responsibilities. K Paul Asack is handling the kickoffs.

--QB Sean Renfree has been avoiding trouble with his feet as he wasn't sacked against Florida International and none of his three carries resulted in negative yards. This is crucial considering he threw 43 passes in the game.

--CB Ross Cockrill was back in the starting lineup for the Florida International game after missing the previous week's game against Tulane with a leg injury. He was credited with seven tackles for the third-most on the team.

--S Lee Butler is out with a leg injury that he sustained against Tulane. He has been a backup in the defensive backfield and the team's top punt returner this season.

--RB Josh Snead remained out with an injured right foot that has prevented him from playing all season. But his status in a pregame injury report was upgraded to questionable so he must be making some progress.

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