DURHAM, N.C. – Duke quarterback Daniel Jones returned to the field Saturday to throw for 226 yards and one touchdown, but the 22nd-ranked Blue Devils fell to Virginia Tech 31-14 Saturday night at Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium. The setback was the first for Duke in 2018.
The Hokies (3-1, 1-1 ACC) accumulated 413 yards of offense, 332 of which came through the air by quarterback Ryan Willis, who finished 17-of-27 passing with three touchdowns. The Blue Devils (4-1, 0-1) totaled 327 yards as Jones was 25-of-35 for 226 yards and a touchdown.
Noah Gray reeled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Jones, capping a nine-play, 75-yard drive as Duke seized a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter.
But the Hokies scored three consecutive touchdowns to gain control of the Saturday night affair in Durham. Damon Hazelton was on the receiving end of a 27-yard touchdown pass from Willis on the first play of the second quarter, and the Hokies stretched the lead to 17-7 when Dalton Keene caught a screen pass from Willis and scampered 67 yards for the score.
It was 17-7 at the half and the Blue Devils forced a Virginia Tech three-and-out on the second half’s first possession. Duke’s ensuing drive stalled at midfield as the Blue Devils turned the ball over on downs and the Hokies capitalized, marching five plays and capping the drive with a six-yard score by Steven Peoples.
Duke carved into the lead when Deon Jackson scored from a yard out with 13:47 remaining in regulation. Looking to build on the momentum of the score, the defense forced the Hokies into a third-and-six inside the 30, but Willis moved the sticks with a 33-yard pass to Tre Turner. It was the sixth third-down conversion for the visitors in the game.
The 10-play, 75-yard drive that chewed 4:39 off the clock ended with a 10-yard touchdown from Willis to Phil Patterson to put the game away.
Jones was announced as Duke’s starter earlier in the day on Saturday. The junior quarterback had missed the two previous games as he recovered from a broken clavicle suffered in the win at Northwestern on Sept. 8.
The Blue Devils, denied the program’s first 5-0 start since the 1994 season, enter their off week and return to action Saturday, Oct. 13 at Georgia Tech.