Freshman quarterback Sean Renfree came off the bench to put Duke ahead, and then Leon Wright came up with two huge defensive plays in the final 1:48 as the Blue Devils beat homestanding Army 35-19 and ended their six-game losing streak.
Renfree connected with Brett Huffman from 17 yards out on his second collegiate play after he took over for Thaddeus Lewis to give Duke a 13-10 lead early in the third quarter, and the Blue Devils didn't trail again in improving to 1-1.
Duke now leads the series with the Black Knights 11-9-1.
Renfree (pictured) finished with two touchdown passes, completing six of seven passes for 90 yards to help the Blue Devils to a much-needed victory.
"I had intended to play him last week (in the Blue Devils' season-opening loss to Richmond) and didn't, and I made my mind up we would play him regardless of circumstance," Duke coach David Cutcliffe told The Associated Press.
"It's not any kind of statement or anything other than just confidence in Sean. ... I had decided I wanted Sean in there in that series, unless we're backed up."
Army led 10-0 before the senior Lewis, who completed five of 17 passes for 60 yards, completed his 50th career touchdown pass to freshman Conner Vernon in the second quarter.
With Duke up 21-13 going into the final two minutes Wright returned two interceptions of Carson Williams passes for touchdowns in a 16-second span to nail down the win.
Army is also 1-1.
Duke will visit Kansas on Sept. 19.