College football: Virginia Tech 14, Duke 10
DURHAM ó Duke came closer than it has in a long time to upsetting a nationally ranked opponent. Close isnít good enough anymore for the Blue Devils.
Duke shut out No. 15 Virginia Tech in the second half but couldnít come up with enough plays down the stretch in a 14-10 loss to the Hokies on Saturday.
ěWe know how good we are. Not many people may see it, but we know how good this team is, and we know that we can hang with anybody in this league,î Duke receiver Conner Vernon said. ěWe proved it out there today. … Itís tough. Losses like these arenít easy to get over.î
Sean Renfree was 17 of 35 for 204 yards, but was intercepted three times for the Blue Devils (3-5, 1-3). They couldnít overcome four turnovers and lost their third straight overall and 44th in a row against nationally ranked teams. Duke hasnít beaten a Top 25 team since 1994.
Unlike so many of the losses during that streak, this one was competitive throughout. Duke had a golden opportunity to take the lead late after Jamison Crowder returned a punt to the Virginia Tech 34 with just under 7 minutes left.
ěI was just saying, ëThey better not win this game. We better not lose this game,íî Tech running back David Wilson said.
The Blue Devils marched into the red zone in five plays, but on fourth-and-2 from the 15, Renfree rolled right on a bootleg and was dropped by Kyle Fuller for a loss of 3 yards with 4:37 remaining. Coach David Cutcliffe said running back Juwan Thompson was the primary receiver on that play but he slipped.
ěThey bit the run like we thought,î Cutcliffe said. ěWe just tried to avoid them, and Sean just got stuck.î
Duke forced a punt and got the ball back with 1:43 left, but Barquell Rivers intercepted Renfreeís fourth-down pass with 55 seconds left.
Wilson rushed for 148 yards, and Logan Thomas was 17 of 28 for 190 yards with two interceptions and a 2-yard touchdown pass to Eric Martin. Josh Oglesby added a 1-yard scoring run for the Coastal Division-leading Hokies (8-1, 4-1).
Entering as 15-point favorites, they were sluggish and inefficient throughout, yet came up with enough plays to claim their fourth straight victory. Virginia Tech rolled up 433 yards while allowing 326 to Duke.
ěEvery weekís not going to be just magnificent, and this week certainly wasnít magnificent for us,î coach Frank Beamer said. ěBut sometimes when you can get through a game when it wasnít so good and get a win, thatís big in the big picture.î
The Hokies remain unbeaten in 14 matchups against ACC teams in North Carolina as members of the conference. They also broke the league record of 10 straight road wins set in 2000 by Florida State and matched six years later by Virginia Tech.
Desmond Scott had a 3-yard touchdown run and Matt Daniels had two interceptions for Duke, which pulled within four points midway through the third quarter on Will Snyderwineís 26-yard field goal. He could have made it a one-point game with 12:27 remaining, but he hit his 29-yard attempt off the right upright.
Wilson, the ACCís leading rusher, had his sixth straight 100-yard game and has hit triple digits eight times this season for Virginia Tech. He accused the Blue Devils of ědoing dirty stuffî at the bottoms of piles ó specifically, ěpinching, punching, reaching through the face maskî and grabbing at his groin, he said.
The Hokies were playing for the first time without leading tackler Bruce Taylor. He suffered a season-ending right foot sprain last week against Boston College and became the fourth defensive player ó and third starter on that side of the ball ó lost for the season.
Neither team looked particularly sharp during a first half in which the teams combined to turn it over five times in a 20-minute span, with Renfree and Thomas each throwing two interceptions during that stretch.
The Hokies rolled up 301 yards before the break, but turned it over twice, missed a 29-yard chip shot and kept Dukeís only touchdown drive of the day alive with three 15-yard penalties.
Dukeís first two possessions ended with turnovers, and the Hokies made the Blue Devils pay for the second one. Virginia Tech scored first after going 85 yards in 12 plays, with Wilsonís 39-yard run through the right side setting up Thomasí short scoring flip to Martin with roughly 4 minutes left in the first.
Scott tied it at 7 with his short touchdown run on the second play of the second quarter after those repeated flags on Virginia Tech kept giving the Blue Devils first downs.
The Associated Press