Duke’s first official test of the season against a power five opponent featured a game of runs, turnovers, and momentum changes. The Blue Devils, who entered the contest without a single turnover all season, registered five takeaways that helped them escape Wallace Wade with a win 30-23 versus a gritty Northwestern Wildcats team.
Speaking of Runs
The first half featured Duke’s secondary baiting starting quarterback Hunter Johnson into three interceptions, ultimately resulting in his benching. Senior backup Andrew Marty sparked the Wildcats’ offense into immediate contention with a 31-yard touchdown bomb to Raleigh native Jacob Gill (Cardinal Gibbons High School), making it respectable before intermission. Outside of the broken coverage Duke controlled the entire first half.
A concerning point for the Blue Devils’ defense has been the ability to get off the field on 3rd down. The Wildcats were only 5 of 13 on 3rd down conversions. The game featured eight turnovers, where both coaches reiterated afterwards will be focal points going forward.
Maxwell award finalist Mataeo Durant finished the first half rushing over the century mark with 15 carries, 102 yards and 1 touchdown.
The second half featured 3-and-outs, fumbles, interceptions – you name it. Yes, we know you can’t be too critical of a team that sealed a win, but they were shut out in the second half and escaped with a win. This was mainly due to the snout defense led by Shaka Heyward who had 12 solo tackles.
The game-changing moment in the fourth quarter happened with backup Andrew Marty rushing the right sideline and being stripped from behind by Dewayne Carter – causing the fumble with Duke ultimately recovering.
The Wildcats made several runs – pushing it to within within points, but the awareness and poise of Gunnar Holmberg allowed Duke to escape Wallace Wade 2-0 at home on the season, (2-1 overall).
Duke has implemented a two-quarterback system featuring Gunnar Holmberg and red-shirt freshman Jordan Moore, which will cause defensive coordinators to plan accordingly for Duke’s crucial rushing attack. Post-game Holmberg gave tremendous praise towards Jordan Moore, something you want to see in a locker room building chemistry and cohesion.
Jake Bobo on 16 targets had 11 receptions for 109 yards.
On 3rd and 6 with 2 minutes left and up 30-23, Gunnar Holmberg found junior Eli Pancol on a drag route across the left hash, giving Duke the first down and it’s second win of the season.
Duke hosts Kansas next Saturday September 25 at Wallace Wade stadium 4 p.m.