Duke tries everything in 44-14 loss to Stanford
DURHAM, N.C. (AP)
The Blue Devils faked a punt. They called an onside kick - and recovered it. They went for it repeatedly on fourth downs.
And none of it was enough to deliver their first victory over a Top 25 team since 1994. Not even close.
Andrew Luck matched a career high with four touchdown passes in the Cardinal's 44-14 rout of Duke on Saturday.
''We have to make plays and we weren't able to do that,'' safety Matt Daniels said. ''We kind of just broke down. It really didn't have anything to do with fatigue. We had a lot of missed tackles, a lot of missed assignments.''
Lee Butler had Duke's biggest play, returning an interception 76 yards for a touchdown to pull the Blue Devils (0-2) to 10-7 late in the first half.
And coach David Cutcliffe tried everything in his attempt for Duke's first victory over a top 10 opponent since 1989 and first against a nonconference top 10 team since a win over then-No. 10 Stanford in 1971.
''They were starting to actually make plays, and we were not making plays,'' Butler said. ''We were there, but we just missed, the ball, things like that. We were there, but bad things happened.''
Duke faked a punt on a fourth-and-7 while trailing 10-0 midway through the second quarter. The gadget play worked - Alex King floated a swing pass to Jay Hollingsworth for 21 yards - but it only led to one in a frustrating series of missed opportunities when the outcome was still in doubt. Normally trusty Will Snyderwine missed his second field goal of the day.
''Sometimes it just doesn't go your way,'' Snyderwine said, adding that he's ''in a little bit of a slump right now.''
Then, after Butler's pick-six made it a three-point game, Cutcliffe dialed up an onside kick that was recovered by Walt Canty at the Stanford 40 with about 2 minutes left in the half.
The game essentially swung on what happened next: Duke netted minus-14 yards on that drive, which ended with a 13-yard punt.
Then, Luck took over, leading four straight touchdown drives to turn it into a rout before exiting after one play in the fourth quarter.
Luck finished 20 of 28 for 290 yards with touchdown passes of 60 and 3 yards to Coby Fleener, 10 yards to Chris Owusu and 3 yards to Zach Ertz. The TDs helped Stanford (2-0) overcome an uneasy start, roll up 504 total yards and pull away for its 10th straight victory dating to last season.
''We put some points on the board - we found our stride, you could say, our rhythm in the second half,'' Luck said. ''But we're going to get beat if we continue to play like that offensively.''
Stanford never trailed and claimed a rare regular-season win on the East Coast.
Owusu finished with seven catches for 106 yards and Jeremy Stewart added a 30-yard touchdown run for the Cardinal, who were making their fifth regular-season trip east since 1997.
Stanford was 1-3 in its previous four visits East since `97, though the Cardinal did rout Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl in January. Two years ago, they were beaten at Wake Forest in the first road start of Luck's career, a defeat that still rankles several upperclassmen.
In this one, Stanford methodically pulled away from a Duke team that was a three-touchdown underdog and was coming off another loss to a lower-division FCS team.
Even though the end result was the same, Duke barely resembled the outfit that lost to Richmond for the third time in six years.
''Their intensity level was high, and we knew we had to match that intensity level for 60 minutes, and I thought we did that for the first third'' of the game, Cutcliffe said. ''We didn't get tired - it wasn't that. Just one of the most difficult things in sports, to play when things don't go your way. It's to regain momentum, and we couldn't do that. We didn't make those plays.''
Sean Renfree finished 19 of 27 for 179 yards for Duke.