Duke downs Boston College 9-7
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Duke has had plenty of games over the years in which it didn’t score a touchdown. These days, the Blue Devils can win those games.
Ross Martin kicked three field goals to help Duke beat Boston College 9-7 on Saturday.
It was Duke’s first win without a touchdown since a 3-0 victory over Wake Forest in 1978.
”It shows that we’re resilient,” Duke linebacker Dwayne Norman said. ”We don’t have to depend on one unit to win the game.”
Thomas Sirk passed for 195 yards for the Blue Devils (4-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won their first two league games for the third time in the last 34 years.
Duke has started 4-1 or better through five games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1962-65. The Blue Devils won after totaling just 73 yards on 39 plays in the second half.
”We believe that we’re best when we blend offense, defense and kicking,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. ”But we’re also at our best when one side is limping and the other side runs a little faster. That’s what you call team responsibility.”
Boston College (3-2, 0-2) had two good opportunities to take the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Colton Lichtenberg’s 45-yard field-goal attempt with 3:35 remaining came up short, and Jeff Smith’s fourth-down completion to David Dudeck at the Duke 43-yard line was short of the first down with 2:16 left.
Smith shared time at quarterback with starter Troy Flutie throughout, and he entered the game on third down of the final series after Flutie was hurt on a scramble.
Flutie passed for 129 yards and accounted for the game’s lone touchdown with a 66-yard strike to Thadd Smith late in the third quarter.
”Both quarterbacks competed and tried to play,” Boston College coach Steve Addazio said. ”They both delivered sparks.”
Martin kicked field goals of 36, 38 and 53 yards in the first half to give the Blue Devils a 9-0 halftime lead. His 53-yarder into the wind with 3:40 remaining in the second quarter tied a career long.
Duke won despite struggling to run against Boston College, which entered the game with the nation’s No. 2 rushing defense. The Blue Devils had just 33 yards on 35 rushing attempts.
Duke’s problems on the ground were especially evident in the third quarter. Leading 9-0, the Blue Devils had a chance to build a cushion after Boston College’s Sherman Alston muffed a punt that Duke’s Johnell Barnes recovered at the Eagles’ 15.
Two runs set up Duke with first and goal at the Boston College 1, but the Eagles stiffened. Duke came up short on four consecutive rushes, the last of which was a blast into the middle of the line by Jela Duncan from the 1.
”We had chances to score touchdowns,” Sirk said. ”We’ve got to finish those drives.”
Boston College outgained Duke 305-228, getting its offense going in the second half.
The Eagles amassed just 100 total yards in the first half after failing to complete any of their nine passing attempts. Flutie misfired on both of his attempts before being replaced by Jeff Smith, who was 0 for 7.
One of those incompletions was particularly painful for the Eagles.
On third and 12 from the Duke 25, Smith lofted a pass toward the front left corner of the end zone. Thadd Smith leaped over Duke cornerback Alonzo Saxton II and got both of his hands on the ball. The ball popped out after the players fell to the ground, and officials ruled the pass incomplete.
When instant replay upheld the ruling, Boston College coach Steve Addazio was emphatic in expressing his disagreement with the call.
The Eagles lined up for a field-goal try but came away with no points when holder Bobby Swigert was tackled after struggling to corral a low snap.
”We had two opportunities to kick field goals, and we didn’t convert on those field goals,” Addazio said. ”Both of those ended up being critical.”