For a while against Virginia Tech it looked like the Blue Devils were the superior team; that feeling lasted about a quarter. Instead the Hokies took advantage of Duke turnovers and other countless mistakes to win going away 41-20.
The Hokies scored 17 unanswered points to erase a 20-0 lead and went into the half trailing only by three points, but clearly with all the momentum. And that momentum just carried over to the second half and instead of pulling off the big upset and making a statement win, it was more of what we’ve come to expect from Duke Football.
The Blue Devils (5-2, 2-1 ACC) seemingly had control early in the game and looked poised to build on a 20-10 lead but a tipped Sean Renfree pass was intercepted and eventually set up a late first half touchdown. That score allowed the Hokies to go into halftime energized and after the break, it didn’t appear that Duke even bothered to come out of the locker room.
The game very quickly turned into a Hokie rout when Virginia Tech took the opening kick of the second half and scored a quick touchdown that gave them the lead and they never looked back.
“Game don’t end at the end of the first quarter,” head coach David Cutcliffe said. “I knew Virginia Tech would respond.”
And respond they did. Logan Thomas came alive and finished the game with 50 yards rushing on 11 carries, better than any Duke running back. He also threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns.
No phase of the Blue Devils’ game was without fault. The offensive line committed countless false start penalties and parted like the Red Sea giving Virginia Tech defenders seemingly an open path to the quarterback. To make matters worse the running game that had been helping the Duke offense only sputtered today.
The Blue Devils mustered only 22 rushing yards on the day and once they were behind big they had to abandon the running game altogether. To make matters worse Duke turned the ball over four times and never found any offensive rhythm in the second half.
It was a rough day for Duke quarterback Sean Renfree who was sacked 5 times and took several hard hits. Anthony Boone who played so well last week in relief wasn’t much better throwing an interception. Renfree said that a number of miscues on the team were due to a lack of focus.
The Blue Devils defense didn’t have a much better day. After the first quarter they were manhandled at the line of scrimmage and just about everywhere else giving up 41 unanswered points after the quick start.
It is very hard to figure this Blue Devil team out and the schedule only gets exponentially harder with contests versus North Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Miami still coming up. You’d like to think Duke still has a chance to get the one win they still need to get to a bowl game but if they don’t play substantially better they won’t get that win.
“Our bubble feels burst,” Cutcliffe said after the game “We’ve got to let this go. We are going to continue to learn about our team. I believe we will respond the proper way.”
We’ll have more from this game tomorrow. Overall it was not a great performance from a Blue Devil team most felt was getting better, but today felt like a step backwards.
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