Devils' Comeback Attempt Falls Short

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke's comeback attempt fell just short as the Blue Devils fall to Northwestern, 24-20, Saturday night here at Wallace Wade Stadium. The Blue Devils fall to 1-1 on the young season while Northwestern improves to 2-0.

The Blue Devils struck first on their opening drive thanks to a two yard plunge from Clifford Harris that capped an 11-play 72-yard drive. Thaddeus Lewis completed all four of his passes on the drive for 33 yards. Harris carried the ball four times gaining 25 yards. The key play was a 16-yard completion by Lewis to Tielor Robinson in the flat on third down and two from the Northwestern 20.

The Duke defense held strong for the first two Northwestern drives forcing two three and outs. The Wildcats sparked a quick score on their third possession needing only 55 seconds to go 55 yards. Northwestern punched it in on an 18-yard run by Tyrell Sutton. C. J. Bacher hooked up with Ross Lane for 28 yards on the drive.

Capitalizing on a muffed punt, the Wildcats started their sixth drive of the game at the Blue Devil 29, needing two plays and only 20 seconds to break into the end zone. Sutton took the handoff and slithered his way for a 4-yard score. On the previous play Bacher handed the ball off to Eric Peterman who completed a pass back to Bacher for 25 yards.

The Blue Devils responded on the next drive with a 21-yard field goal from Nick Maggio with 2:22 left in the half. Zack Asack ignited the spark after the Duke offense struggled to move the football since the opening drive. Asack completed all five of his passes for 38 yards, racking up 13 yards on the ground. Jay Hollingsworth rushed for 20 yards on the drive and hauled in a pass for 11 yards. The Blue Devils went 87 yards eating up 7:47 of the second half.

The Wildcats used up the last 2:13 of the half with Amado Villarreal connecting on a 35-yard field goal as time expired. Sutton gained 32 rushing yards on the 75-yard drive. Going into the half with a 17-10 lead, Bacher completed 2-of-3 passes for 29 yards on the drive.

Maggio connected on a 38-yard field goal, his second of the game at the 5:14 mark of the third quarter cutting the lead to four. The Blue Devils moved the football behind the play of Lewis 60 yards over 2:48. Lewis hooked up with Johnny Williams on the first play for 25 yards. Williams slipped by a defender before stumbling to the ground.

In the fourth quarter, after a Jeremy Ringfield fumble the was recovered by Northwestern at the Duke 31, the Blue Devils defense held strong stopping the Wildcats on three straight plays and breaking up a fake field goal attempt. Adam Banks covered Josh Brooks down the field on the fake attempt, breaking up the pass thrown by holder Kyle Daley.

Taking over at their own 27, the Blue Devils marched 73 yards in 9 plays with Lewis rolling to his right after a play action fake to Harris for 16-yard touchdown run. Lewis connected on 5-of-6 for 50 yards. Lewis completed three passes to Williams and two to Austin Kelly on the drive putting the Blue Devils up for the first time since the fourth quarter 20-17.

Northwestern responded with a touchdown drive in just over three minutes. They used nine plays to go 72-yards capping the drive with a –yard touchdown run by Omar Conteh putting the Wildcats back ahead 24-20. Bacher completed a crucial 3rd-and-ten from the Duke 14-yard line to Rasheed Ward that kept the drive alive for the Wildcats.

Duke had one last opportunity and with a fourth-and-five from the 24 yard line, the Blue Devils punched it in the end zone only to be called for a holding penalty. On the next play, Lewis was pressured and threw the ball just out of bounds on the Blue Devils final offensive play. Northwestern used the victory formation to run the clock out.

Duke next will face Navy, who is 1-1 on the season, Saturday at 12 noon at Wallace Wade Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPNU.

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