by Mike Potter
But with the expansion of the ACC to now 14 football teams, meetings between the Durham and Raleigh schools have become few and far between.
The series will resume after a three-year hiatus on a cool, cloudy day in front of a mostly full house, and the two teams have been headed in opposite directions.
Today, Duke breaks open a close game with three TDs in the final 3:31, two of them on interception returns from freshman DeVon Edwards in a 38-20 win.
Duke (6-2, 2-2) has won four straight, and is guaranteed to be going to a bowl for a second straight season for the first time in school history and will have its first winning season since 1994. State has lost four straight games in its first season under Dave Doeren.
The Blue Devils get on the board first on a four-yard Anthony Boone run, one play after his 75-yard bomb to favorite target Jamison Crowder. Ross Martin’s conversion punctuates the five-play, 40-yard drive with 11:07 left in the first.
Duke stretches it to 10-0 with 8:14 left in the half on a 36-yard Martin field goal. That comes after the Wolfpack goes on fourth-and-1 at its own 26 and Shadrach Thornton comes up short.
The Wolfpack has a chance to cut into the lead at 3:07, but Niklas Sade’s 42-yard field goal attempt hits the left upright.
Sade does cut the lead to 10-3 at 8:46 of the third on a 29-yard field goal to finish a 10-play, 83-yard march.
And the Wolfpack ties it at 7:17 as Rashard Smith returns a punt 73 yards down the left sideline for a score and Sade converts.
State takes its first lead at 3:58, with Sade kicking a 24-yard field goal seven plays after D.J. Greene intercepts Boone and makes a short return to the 15.
That disappears quickly, as Edwards returns the ensuing kickoff 100 yards and Martin adds the kick to put Duke up 17-13 at 3:45.
But State produces more lightning with 6:37 left, as Brandon Mitchell connects with Quintin Peyton on an 80-yard strike down the left sideline. Sade’s boot makes it 20-17.
Duke responds quickly, as Brandon Connette goes in from five yards out to finish an eight-play, 79-yard excursion at 3:31 and Martin converts.
And then Edwards shines. Mitchell forces a pass when he’s being tackled at the Wolfpack 25 and Edwards takes it to the house to set off a wild celebration at 3:21. On comes State backup Pete Thomas, who on the next play fires a pass straight to Edwards, who picks it off at the 45 and who works his way through traffic to pay dirt at 3:05.
Connette completes seven of 13 passes for 59 yards and rushes eight times for 40 yards and a TD. Crowder catches seven passes for 134 yards for the Blue Devils.
State’s Payton catches three passes for 104 yards, while Thornton rushes 26 times for 103.
They said it …
Duke coach David Cutcliffe: “I think the most important part is to remember who we are and why we’re better (than in the past). We’re not better because we strut or because we’re so physically gifted that we’re going to ‘dominate’ anyone. We are who we are because of the process that’s been a part of what I’ve learned over a lot of years, and these guys buy into the process. They are the process. If we ever forget that we have no chance to be successful here.”
Doeren: Obviously Duke beat us in the fourth quarter today. The turnovers for touchdowns were killers. There are 21 points on the board our defense was not responsible for. Both defenses were back-and-forth at each other. We forced some critical turnovers … we had a lot of big plays against a good football team and we didn’t finish the game. That’s the most disappointing thing. We lost a tough game a week ago to a rival, and came back and fought and prepared the right way. It hurts. It hurts to lose when you put that much in. There was zero quit.”
Edwards: “I’m feeling pretty good. I’m just glad we got the win. I’m a little tired, a little beat up, exhausted. It’s the best feeling in the world right now.”
Thornton: “We should have won this game before the fourth quarter. We had multiple times where we should have turned turnovers into touchdowns. The fourth quarter should have been (irrelevant).”
What does it all mean?
That Duke is on a big-time roll, and that the Wolfpack needs a miracle to turn things around this season.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Edwards’ first interception return.
Duke: Won 5.
State: Lost 5.
Duke leads 41-36-5.
State at Boston College, Nov. 16, 12:30 p.m.
Duke vs. Miami, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m.