Final (Duke 54, N.C. Central 17): Ross Cockrell scored the Blue Devils’ first defensive touchdown of the game with a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown, the first time since 2004 that Duke has scored on offense, defense and special teams. Anthony Boone and Jela Duncan ran the offense for much of the final period, surrounded by a number of other reserves. Sophomore Jack Wise caught his first career touchdown pass for the Blue Devils’ final score on an 11-yard pass from Boone. Brandon Connette continued his musical chairs-like positional rotation by seeing snaps at defensive back in the final few minutes.
Third quarter (Duke 41, N.C. Central 10): Duke blew the game open with consecutive touchdown drives in the middle of the quarter. The first covered 66 yards and nearly five minutes as the Blue Devils established a running game behind Juwan Thompson and Josh Snead. The second took less than a minute, as Sean Renfree faked a screen pass before finding Isaac Blakeney wide open downfield for a 55-yard touchdown. N.C. Central has been able to find some success through the air against the banged-up Blue Devil secondary, but the Eagles are averaging just 2.3 yards on 30 rushes.
Notable halftime stats:
1. N.C. Central has outgained Duke in total offense by two yards, 200 to 198, but trails by 17.
2. Duke has just 26 rushing yards on seven carries, led by Josh Snead’s 13.
3. The Blue Devils are 0-for-6 on third down.
Second quarter (Duke 27, N.C. Central 10): The Eagles began to exploit Duke’s banged-up secondary in the second quarter, as Jordan Reid began finding Marvin Poole and Decona Roberts downfield. Reid has completed 8-of-13 passes for 121 yards in the game, but his one mistake was intercepted by Ross Cockrell and returned to midfield, eventually setting up a Duke field goal. The Blue Devils managed their longest drive of the game on their next possession, an 11-play, 70-yard touchdown drive capped by Josh Snead’s 18-yard touchdown run off a screen pass. N.C. Central managed a field goal just before halftime to cut the deficit to 17, but Duke will get the ball to start the second half.
First quarter (Duke 17, N.C. Central 7): The second edition of the Bull City Gridiron Classic started off sloppily for both teams. Duke and N.C. Central combined for just two first downs in the game’s opening 10 minutes, but the Blue Devils had a 10-3 lead largely on the back of Lee Butler. Butler returned the Eagles’ first two punts back into N.C Central territory, eventually resulting in a field goal and a turnover on downs. His third return was electric, though, as he initially ran backwards for 10 yards before turning to find a seam open down the sideline for a touchdown. The Eagles rallied behind their running game at the end of the first quarter, driving methodically down the field before Andre Clarke pulled them within three on a one-yard touchdown run. The Blue Devils responded with a 33-yard touchdown reception by Jamison Crowder, but the Eagles are driving around midfield to start the second quarter.
Pregame: Blair Holliday is back on campus for tonight’s Bull City Gridiron Classic between Duke and N.C. Central. Earlier in the afternoon he participated in the Blue Devil Walk to the stadium with the rest of his teammates and coaches.
“Today is a special day for Blair,” his family said in a statement. “Resturning to Duke to share cherished moments with his teammates and friends has been a goal of his for several weeks. While Blair has made significant progress with his rehabilitation, we have many challenges ahead. Thank you for your continued support.”
In other Duke athletics news, the Blue Devil cross country team is preparing to start their meet from the track surrounding the football field. They are racing N.C. Central as well, and the teams will take one lap around the track before heading out to the course.