by Mike Potter
Both programs are optimistic about this season. Duke went 6-7 last time and played in its first bowl game since 1994, while NCCU was 6-5 for its first winning season since playing a MEAC Division I schedule.
Duke leads the series 2-0, winning the contests by a combined 103 points to 31.
And there are changes atop the casts of characters. NCCU has a new coach in Dwayne Foster, who will be at the helm for the first time in a college game today. Foster took the wheel when Henry Frazier III was fired last week for charges in connection with the violation of a protective order filed by his ex-wife.
David Cutcliffe returns for his sixth season with the Blue Devils, who have a new quarterback in junior Anthony Boone.
Senior Jordan Reid quarterbacks the Eagles.
This one is all Blue Devils, as Duke rolls up 488 yards total offense and records its first shutout in 24 years in a 45-0 romp that ends a five-game losing streak.
After missing a field goal on its first possession Duke capitalizes on the second. Following a 25-yard Jamison Crowder
Duke doubles the lead with 18 seconds left in the first, when Crowder burst up the middle and then sprints down the right sideline to score on a 76-yard punt return. Martin converts.
The Blue Devils go up 21-0 at 10:05 of the second after Connette bulls in from a yard out. Martin’s boot punctuates the 11-play, 73-yard march.
And it goes to 28-0 at 4:09, when Boone scores up the middle from a yard out and Martin’s kick completes the 11-play, 82-yard drive.
Duke scores again at 4:59 of the third on Jela Duncan’s three-yard run to finish a five-play, 55-yard march with Martin converting.
And again with 37 seconds left in the fourth, as Connette finds Isaac Blakeney on a 19-yard connection and Martin converts to make it 42-0.
Martin tacks on a 39-yard field goal with 6:33 to go.
Boone is extremely solid, completing 16 of 20 for 176 yards and rushing for 24 yards and a score on six carries. Situational QB Connette completes five of eight for 55 yards and two TDs with one interception and rushing for 22 yards and a TD on five carries. Crowder catches six passes for 62 yards and returns five punts for 113 yards and the TD. Duncan leads the rushing attack with 76 yards and the TD on 11 carries. Kelby Brown leads the Blue Devils with seven tackles including two solos and half of one for loss.
Jordan Reid completes 11 of 22 passes for 87 yards for NCCU, while Idreis Augustus carries nine times for 50 yards. Taz Foster has a game-high 13 tackles including five solos and one for loss for the Eagles.
They said it …
Cutcliffe: “They told me that in Wallace Wade this is the first shutout since 1978, which is incredible. I’m very pleased and happy for our defensive coaches as our defense has had some difficult times. We’ve still got plenty of challenges in front of us, but tonight they all deserve to celebrate a job well done. … I don’t think this team has had a bad day yet in their work, in their preparation and I was just praying it would show. I think it showed that their coaches have done a good job of preparing them, and now it’s ‘Where to you go from here?’”
Foster: “I think the biggest positive is that we kept fighting. We didn’t hang our heads and quit through four quarters. We will certainly build off that. We moved the ball at times offensively, but we just didn’t finish. Defensively, we’ve got to be a lot more consistent in getting three-and-outs, getting some more turnovers and helping our field position.”
Boone: “It was good to come out there and get the win coming off a losing streak. Going out there and executing our plays. And there are more and more opportunities to get better. It’s Week One and you don’t expect perfection, but you really want to go out there and execute certain plays.”
Crowder: “The first punt return I got (a 25-yarder) I got it and had a good return, so I definitely felt like that helped out my confidence. Once I caught it (on the TD run) I just saw a crease, and everything was so well-blocked by the guys I just wanted to hit the crease full-speed. That happened, and I was able to take it to the house.”
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Crowder’s 76-yard punt return.
Duke: Won 1.
NCCU: Lost 3.
Duke leads 3-0.
NCCU vs. St. Augustine’s, 2 p.m., Sept. 7
Duke at Memphis, 4:30 p.m., Sept. 7