The Blue Devils threw short, long, left, right and everywhere in between. Lewis moved the ball at will, hitting receivers and marching his team down the field for touchdown after touchdown. When it was all over, Lewis had accumulated 460 yards and five touchdowns while leading the Devils to a 49-28 win over the Wolfpack on Saturday evening at Carter-Finley Stadium. It was the first ACC win on the road for Duke since the 2003 season.
The Pack offense didn't give its defense much help in the second half, either. After scoring three touchdowns in the first half and matching the Lewis-led Devils score-for-score, the Pack offense didn't score a touchdown in the second half. The lone touchdown for the Pack in the second half came on a kickoff return by TJ Graham.
The game might have been closer if not for two terrible plays on punt returns for the Pack. In both instances, a Duke punt hit an unaware NC State player and was recovered by the Blue Devils. The final two scores of the game for the Devils were either a direct or indirect result of punts gone wrong.
Russell Wilson finished with a pedestrian 172 yards and two touchdowns, one in the air and one on the ground and threw an interception late in the game with the Pack trailing by 21 points. Wilson looked very average on a night where Lewis put on the most impressive showing by a quarterback in the ACC this season. He completed 40-of-50 passes, and more than half of his incompletions were dropped balls.
The first half was a shoot-out from the opening whistle, with the teams trading touchdowns on the first six possessions of the game. Duke started it off with a 11 play, 70 yard drive that ended with a 2-yard pass from Thaddeus Lewis to Brett Huffman. The Pack responded with a nine play, 79-yard drive of its own – which ended when Wilson found himself with a wide open right side of the field and ran it in from 10 yards out.
Duke came back with another long drive, going 12 plays and 71 yards to take a seven-point advantage again. Lewis took it in himself this time on a designed quarterback draw up the middle of the Pack defense. It took the Pack just one play to tie up the score however, as Owen Spencer found space behind three Duke defensive backs and Wilson found him in stride for a 63 yard touchdown straight down the middle of the field.
Lewis kept the pressure on the Pack offense by continuing to shred the Pack defense, however, orchestrating a nine play drive that covered 63 yards. The scoring play came when Lewis threw a perfect touch pass to Desmond Scott on third down in the left corner of the end zone. But the Pack offense was up to the challenge, putting together its own nine-play drive capped off by a nine-yard run from Baker.
The touchdown parade was finally broken up by the State defense thanks to a turnover. Duke was once again knocking on the door inside the Pack's 20-yard line, but Alan-Michael Cash forced a fumble and Clem Johnson jumped on the ball to give the Pack its first turnover of the game. The Pack couldn't cash in though, as the Duke defense forced them to punt for the first time all game and put an end to the scoring barrage of the first half.
The second half saw the offensive explosion continue, mostly for the Blue Devils. The Pack got the ball first but had to punt, allowing Lewis to march down the field and retake the lead for Duke. Lewis hit Danny Parker for a 6-yard touchdown to go up by a touchdown to cap off a 97-yard scoring drive. Wilson didn't even have to step foot on the field before the Pack tied it up though, as T.J. Graham took a kickoff 93 yards to the endzone to tie the game back up.
But Duke kept scoring, and eventually the Pack couldn't keep up. After Lewis orchestrated another scoring drive, this time going a mere 72 yards before hitting pay dirt. Lewis hit Austin Kelly this time for his fourth touchdown throw and fifth touchdown of the night. But the Pack couldn't answer on its own possession for the first time all night, as the drive sputtered at midfield and the Pack had to punt on its second straight offensive possession.
The Pack defense finally got a stop on Duke's ensuing possession, but a stroke of terrible luck allowed Duke to pad its lead. The Blue Devils were forced to punt for the second time all night, only for the ball to take a sideways bounce on the punt and hit Wolfpack defensive back Justin Byers in the back. Duke recovered at the 11-yard line and went on to score a touchdown when Lewis hit Conner Vernon for a touchdown. The Devils would score again thanks to another punt that hit a Wolfpack player and was recovered in the endzone by the Devils, leading to a 49-28 final margin.