Blacksburg, Va. -- The Duke defense forced five first half turnovers, but it wasn’t enough as the Blue Devils fell 14-3 to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
The Blue Devils (4-7, 1-6) had their final chance to mount a game wining scoring drive with 1:31 remaining but Zack Asack was intercepted on first down from the Duke 18 by Victor Harris who returned the interception 23 yards putting the game out of reach for Duke.
“We carried the game into the fourth quarter, had a chance to win... The thing that I want to focus on is that you will never see a football team play together better than you saw Duke today,” David Cutcliffe said. “It was an unbelievable feeling, not just today but all week long fighting back after not really playing well against Clemson.”
The Duke defense put forth a valiant effort the entire game forcing five first half turnovers and surrounding just one scoring drive to Hokies (7-4, 4-3) for the entire 60 minutes as both teams dealt with temperatures in the 20s.
Led by Vincent Rey’s 11 tackles, the Duke defense put their offense in a position to come away with points throughout the game by the Hokie defense responded every time forcing stop after stop.
It was the second consecuative game that the Blue Devils recorded at least four sacks with Greg Akinbiyi, Vince Oghobaase, and Gainey all recording a solo sack while Michael Tauiliili and Marcus Jones combined on a sack.
Rey also had a forced fumble and a pass breakup, while Tauiliili added nine tackles, broke up three passes, assisted on a sack and recorded his third interception of the season as the Blue Devils held Virginia Tech to 334 yards of total offense.
The Blue Devils ran the ball 40 times on the day gaining 116 yards. Duke ended the day gaining 136 yards of total offense.
“I just kept hoping that we would bust a run, and boy we came close over and over and over to busting a run,” Cutcliffe said.
After a scoreless first quarter the Blue Devils notched the first points of the ball game with 14:50 left in the second quarter. Nick Maggio connected on a 39-yard field goal from the left hash to put the Blue Devils up 3-0.
The drive was set up thanks to a fumble recovery at the Virginia Tech 43-yard line by Daniels. The freshman pounced on the football for the Blue Devils second forced turnover of the game. Tyrod Taylor was credited with the fumble on the pitch to Darren Evans.
The scoring drive for the Blue Devils lasted 6-plays highlighted by a 19 yard rush by Asack, who finished the day with a career high 87 rushing yards on 24 carries.
On the ensuing Hokie possession, Daniels intercepted Taylor, who threw slightly behind Jarrett Boykin, at the Duke 37-yard line returning it nine yards to the Duke 46, but the Blue Devil offense was unable to capitalize.
On the very next play after Duke punted, Taylor fumbled the football as he took off down the field with Gainey recovering the football at the Virginia Tech 40. Rey forced the fumble on the play. After three offensive plays the Blue Devils were forced to punt once again.
Sean Glennon replaced Taylor on the next series in the second quarter faring better than his teammate as he led Virginia Tech completing 12-of-20 for 132 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Though Glennon had his struggles early throwing an interception in his second series, with Gainey coming up with the interception after Tauiliili deflected the pass as he rushed the quarterback. Duke took over at their 40, but once again were unable to turn the Hokie mistake into points.
Glennon found his grove with 3:02 remaining in the half orchestrating the Hokies on an 86yard drive that spanned 2:24 finding Jarrett Boykin on a skinny post for the 19-yard touchdown strike with 38 seconds left in the half. The touchdown would be the only one the Duke defense would surrender all game, but it was the only one the Hokies would need in the end as Duke entered the locker room at the half trailing 7-3.
Neither team’s offense could get into a grove in the second half as both defenses prevented either offense from driving the football down the field. The longest drive by either team in the second half was 27 yards, twice by Virginia Tech and once by the Blue Devils.
The interception return for a touchdown by Harris with 1:23 left sealed the victory for the Hokies , but Cutcliffe walked off the field proud of the effort his team put forth.
“This Duke team is a pretty special football team,” Cutcliffe said.