Duke Improves To 2-1 With Win Over Navy

DURHAM, N.C. – Thaddeus Lewis and Eron Riley became the most productive scoring duo in school history, connecting three times for touchdowns as the Duke Blue Devils defeated the Navy Midshipmen, 41-31, Saturday at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium.

Lewis and Riley have now combined for 17 TD connections, passing the duos of Ben Bennett to Chris Castor and Steve Slayden to Doug Green, who both held the school record with 16.

Lewis finished 25-of-35 passing for 317 yards and 3 TDs with zero interceptions. Riley hauled in eight balls for 137 yards and all three TD tosses for the Blue Devils. In the last two games against Navy, Lewis is combined for 48-of-71 passing for 745 yards and 7 TDs while Riley has combined for 14 catches for 372 yards and all seven of those touchdowns.

Lewis surpassed the 5,000-yard passing mark in his career while Riley closed with 50 yards of 2,000 yards receiving.

The Blue Devils found the end zone on their opening drive of the ball game with Lewis connecting with Eron Riley for a 27 yards touchdown over the middle leaving the defenders diving at his feet from behind. The touchdown pass was the 15th touchdown pass from Lewis to Riley. The drive started at the Duke 22-yard line covering 78 yards in 12 plays in just less than six minutes. Lewis completed 5-of-6 on the drive with two going to Riley and one each to Austin Kelly, Clifford Harris and Sheldon Bell.

The Midshipmen needed only four plays to answer the Blue Devils score. Shun White took the option pitch and went 73 yards down the right sideline for the score. The run marks the fourth time this season that White has broken a run for 70 or more yards.

Duke regained the lead thanks to a career long 46-yard field goal from Nick Maggio to put the Blue Devils up 10-7. Lewis completed passes to Eron Riley for 12 yards and Raphael Chestnut for 16 yards on the drive. The drive lasted 3:42 with Duke gaining 38 yards on nine plays.

The Blue Devil defense forced a three-and-out on the Midshipmen's next possession. Michael Tauiliili burst into the backfield on third and three bringing down White in the backfield for a loss of one. On the ensuing punt, Leon Wright mishandled the return at the 25-yard line. The ball bounced back to the Duke 10 with Navy's Emmett Merchant recovering the fumble. The Midshipmen needed only two plays to score the go-ahead touchdown. Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada found Greg Shinego for the 11-yard touchdown pass putting Navy up 14-10.

After a Blue Devil drive in the second quarter that saw Maggio miss a 33-yard field goal, his first miss of the year, the Midshipmen coughed up the football on a third and two from their own 43-yard line. Vincent Rey scooped up a mishandled pitch by White taking it in for a 37-yard touchdown to put the Blue Devils back on top 17-14.

Starting on their own 19, the Midshipmen responded with a 27-yard field goal from Matt Harmon. The drive lasted 6:36 with Navy moving the football 71 yards over 13 plays. Greg Akinbiyi made a crucial stop on third down and five at the Duke six yard line tackling White in the backfield for a four-yard loss.

After a Duke three and out the Midshipmen were able to get in the end zone. With 22 seconds left in the half Bobby Doyle took the pitch from Jarod Bryant going 17 yards for the score.

Starting at their own 38 yard line with only 16 seconds left, the Blue Devils were able to move the football into field goal range converting on a 52-yarder from Joe Surgan. The kick was a career long for Surgan and tied the eighth longest field goal in school history. Lewis completed passes of 15 yards to Bell and 13 yards to Riley to move into position to try the long field goal pulling within four of Navy, 24-20, at the half.

At the 7:17 mark of the third quarter, Lewis found Riley for a 5-yard touchdown, his second of the game, putting the Blue Devils up 27-24. Lewis made the catch at the four, spun around a defender and stretched out his arms across the goal line as he was being brought down. Lewis was 4-of-6 on the drive for 23 yards.

Navy tried to pick up a fourth and one from their own 38-yard line, but the Duke defense held with Tauiliili and Charlie Hatcher bursting through the line to make the play. The Blue Devils would capitalize on the field position going 38 yards on 7 plays capped off by a 2-yard touchdown run by Tielor Robinson. The touchdown run was Robinson's first career rushing touchdown at Duke. On the drive Lewis rushed twice for 15 yards and completed passes to Jay Hollingsworth, Chestnut and Jeremy Ringfield increasing the lead 34-24.

Navy struck back quickly scoring on a third down and 12 play from their own 32 pulling within three with five seconds left in the third quarter. Bryant completed a wide receiver screen pass to Tyree Barnes, who turned the ball up the field and took it 68 yards for the score making it 34-31 Duke.

Not wasting any time, the Blue Devils punched it in again. Lewis found Riley for a 49 yard score, his third of the game. Riley caught the pass over the middle continuing to the sideline before turning it down the field leaving the Navy defenders behind him reaching for his shoestrings. That touchdown makes Lewis to Riley the leading quarterback-to-wide receiver tandem in Duke football history with 17 career touchdowns.

Trying to energize a comeback, Bryant let one go down the field with Adrian Aye-Darko diving in front of the receiver to make the interception at the Duke 23 yard line ending Navy's threat. The interception was Aye-Darko's first of the season and second of his career.

On the ensuing drive, the Blue Devils found their running game to run the clock out. Lewis connected on a pair of third downs on the drive to help run almost seven minutes off the clock. Lews connected with Chestnut on the third play of the drive for 23 yards on 3rd and 10. Three plays later, Lewis connected with Williams for 10 yards on 3rd and seven. Navy called its last time out with 1:59 left and three rushes later, Duke gave the ball over on downs with just :24 left to secure the win. Greg Akinbiyi got a sack on the game's last play and a QB hurry on the second-to-last play to put the game in the books.

Duke will now open ACC play as it hosts Virginia on Sept. 27 after a bye week. Kickoff should be known by Monday.

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