Inconsistent Duke Falls To Navy, 28-21

The pieces seemed to be in place for Duke to earn a second victory of the season on Saturday. The team seemed excited. There was fresh blood under center. And it was homecoming. Unfortunately, as has been the case for so long inside Wallace Wade, a couple of critical breakdowns cost the Blue Devils a chance to win as they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, allowing Navy to escape with a 28-21 victory on homecoming.

Early on it seemed as though the Blue Devils had things going in the right direction. After allowing the Navy's quarterback, Lamar Owens, to guide his team to the Duke five-yard line, Duke's John Talley intercepted a third down pass attempt and returned the ball out to the 38-yard line.

Soon after Talley's big play, the offense under newly appointed starter Zack Asack, would go to work, eating up 41 yards on seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on the strength of Justin Boyle's three yard touchdown dive. Unfortunately, as has become commonplace for the Blue Devils, a positive was met with a negative as the Midshipmen made the most of the remaining 2:05 on the clock to knot the game at a touchdown apiece as Owens found Tyree Barnes on the final play of the first period.

Undeterred, the offense continued to move the ball up and down the field against the Midshipmen, but never earned any points on in the second period, suffering an Asack interception and a missed field goal from 40 yards out to leave the score tied at intermission.

After Navy missed a field goal of its own to open the second half, the Blue Devils' Joe Surgan converted a 43-yard attempt to give Duke a 10-7 advantage. However, the trend of following a positive with a negative continued as the Blue Devil defense allowed Navy to march 85 yards on eight plays to take a 14-10 lead.

Following a three and out on offense that featured a pair of runs up the middle for minimal gain, followed by an incomplete pass, the Blue Devils were forced to punt from inside their 15 yard line. Shortly, on the next season, Navy would break a 47 yard run to make it 21-10.

After Brendan Dewan recovered a Midshipman fumble at the 15-yard line; Navy actually backed the Blue Devils up 10 yards on three plays before Surgan struck from 40 to cut the advantage to just 21-13.

From there Asack showed why he is the choice over junior Mike Schneider, leading the Blue Devils on a 17 play, 66-yard drive that ended with the freshman darting into the endzone himself for a 21-19 game. On the ensuing two-point conversion, Asack found fellow freshman Eron Riley on short pass to knot the game at 21.

Unfortunately for Duke, the trend continued as Owen eluded early pressure and took off for a 52 yard run that put the Midshipmen on the Duke five yard line. Three plays later it was 28-21 with just over a minute remaining.

Former starter Schneider returned to Wallace Wade to lead the Devils to the Navy 24 yard line with under 10 seconds remaining, but his last pass attempt was broken up by the Midshipmen who began to celebrate their first win of the season.

Duke travels to Miami next week to face the Hurricanes. Kickoff on Oct. 8 is set for 3:30 PM in the Orange Bowl. Following that contest, Duke has three consecutive home games at Wallace Wade Stadium against Georgia Tech, Florida State and Wake Forest.

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