Another week of missed opportunities mixed with untimely turnovers and some bad luck and just like that Duke is 1-2 on the season and things are trending the wrong way.
Despite a slow start it seemed as though the Blue Devils had positioned themselves to take back the momentum late in the second quarter against Northwestern after forcing a turnover and then marching 99 yards to tie the game at seven.
From there, however, Duke suffered a series of offensive stall outs and mistakes which allowed Northwestern to score 17 unanswered points to take control of, and ultimately put away the contest to win a second straight game between the teams. More specifically, Duke turned it over twice and missed a field goal after piecing together several strong drives after halftime - none of which produced points.
After failing to grab the momentum on those missed opportunities, Duke’s offense came to a complete stop, registering four straight three and outs.
Perhaps the play of the game came from the struggling special teams unit. Redshirt freshman Austin Parker muffed a snap and couldn’t get the punt off, allowing Northwestern to take possession on the Duke 44 yard line. On the next play Wildcat quarterback Clayton Thorson found Colomon Vault on a 44-yard pass to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead.
Northwestern would add another field goal to make it a 10 point game before Duke drove down and set up a 34 yard attempt for the Blue Devils’ other specialist, true freshman A.J. Reed. However, special teams once again didn’t deliver as Reed pushed the field goal wide right.
With the loss the Blue Devils are now 1-2 on the season, the first time the program has lost two of the first three games since the 2011 season. And things get worse next week with a trip to Notre Dame on the agenda.