Junior starting quarterback Mike Schneider threw three interceptions while completing just 13-of-24 passes for 119 yards as the Blue Devils dropped their 17th straight road opener to East Carolina, 24-21.
The Blue Devils, who came into the game with high hopes after a stellar recruiting class arrived on campus, saw East Carolina take advantage of big plays in the first half and never led throughout the game.
Pirate quarterback James Pinkney ran for a pair of scores and threw a 50 yard touchdown strike as the ECU offense motored its way to 340 total yards on the afternoon to give head coach Skip Holtz his first career victory.
Pinkney's favorite target was JUCO transfer receiver Aundrae Allison, who hauled in 10 catches for 164 yards and a touchdown for East Carolina. That scoring strike came after Pinkney eluded the Duke pass rush just long enough to deliver the ball with precision to Allison who went on an untouched scamper to put the Blue Devils down 14-7 with just over six minutes remaining in the first quarter.
On the afternoon Pinkney would continue to deliver well timed passes to his receivers, finishing with 235 yards on 17-of-21 pass attempts. Meanwhile the Blue Devils were forced to deal with Schneider's inability to deliver the ball to his receivers in critical situation – the most costly instance coming when the Duke starter threw an interception on the ECU two yard line with Duke trailing by just a field goal.
With the passing game reverting to its sporadic past performance, the Bleu Devils did get some positive play from sophomore running back Justin Boyle who carried 18 times for 49 yards and a pair of touchdowns, atoning for his fumble inside the ECU five yard line early on. Senior starter Cedric Dargan led the team with 55 yards on 14 carries as the Blue Devils tallied 173 yards on the ground.
After ECU took a 10 point lead with time running out in the third quarter, Duke cut the lead to 24-21 on Boyle's second touchdown run of the day. However, Schneider would throw his third interception of the day with 1:16 remaining in the game to seal the result.