Marshall made the first big play of the game, hanging in the pocket and taking a big hit just after releasing a 35-yard touchdown pass to A-back Qua Searcy on a 3rd-and-12 on the opening possession of the game. Duke defensive end Victor Dimukeje tipped and intercepted a Marshall screen pass, which set up a Duke field goal. In the third quarter, trying to pick up a 3rd-and-8 while down 30-20, Marshall was unable to connect with wide receiver Ricky Jeune on a deep ball down the sideline – pass interference could have been called – and the failure to convert set the stage for a Duke touchdown drive that put the Blue Devils up 36-20.
Marshall was 3-for-13 for 82 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Duke’s line consistently turned aside Tech defensive linemen on runs up the middle and sealed off the edge on runs to the perimeter. Blue Devils running back Brittain Brown from Canton, who came into the game averaging 51.1 yards per game, racked up a career-high 116 yards. Brown was practically unstoppable, cutting sharply and slipping away from tackles. Duke’s success running the ball – 319 rushing yards – was in stark contrast to its play in recent weeks. The Blue Devils had not cleared 131 rushing yards in their past five games, averaging 3.4 yards per carry. A week after limiting Virginia Tech to 105 rushing yards, the Jackets had few answers.
The picture wasn’t much better here, either. Quarterback Daniel Jones enjoyed one of the best games of his career, completing 18 of 26 passes for 177 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Jones largely threw from safe pockets and to open receivers. He escaped danger when cornerback Step Durham was in position to intercept him in the end zone in the first quarter but couldn’t secure the ball, enabling Duke to pick up a field goal. His best throw might have been on a 27-yard gain to wide receiver Johnathan Lloyd in the third quarter into tight coverage by cornerback Lawrence Austin. Tech played its sixth game of the season without an interception.
The Jackets didn’t get a boost. On eight kickoff returns, Tech advanced one past its 25-yard line, and that was when Duke kicked off from its 20 after a penalty on the previous touchdown play. A last-gasp fake punt try failed. A point-after try failed.