Brandon Connette accounted for five touchdowns, throwing for three and running for two others, to lead the Blue Devils to a 38-31 victory over Troy in football action Saturday at Wallace Wade Stadium. Three different Duke receivers caught touchdown passes in a balanced attack for the Blue Devils.DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University redshirt junior quarterback
Connette finished 20-of-28 for a career-high 324 yards in the air and 55 yards on the ground from 17 carries. The 324 yards passing marks the second consecutive 300-yard game for the quarterback, while Jamison Crowder was the main beneficiary of Connette’s passing with 149 yards receiving and one touchdown. The 100-yard game was the third of the 2013 campaign for Crowder and eighth of his career. Josh Snead anchored the Duke (3-2) running game with 108 yards, including a career-best 53-yard run in a first quarter scoring drive.
Troy (2-3) struck first on the afternoon with a five-yard run by Jordan Chunn with 6:46 remaining in the first quarter. Duke running back Josh Snead responded on the next drive by taking off for a 53-yard scamper down the field, setting up a seven-yard touchdown pass from Connette to a wide open Max McCaffrey.
The Blue Devils grabbed their first lead of the game just before the end of the first quarter on a three-yard run by Connette. On the play prior to the touchdown, Connette found wide receiver Jamison Crowder for a 24-yard gain along the right sideline.
Crowder’s second reception came just a few minutes later as he hauled in a 60-yard pass from Connette and ran it into the end zone to put Duke up by a 21-7 margin with 11:44 remaining in the half.
After the Trojans responded with a six-play 75 yard touchdown drive to cut the lead to one score, the Blue Devils raced right back down the field in 2:04 to bring it back to a 14-point contest. Connette went 3-of-5, including a 50-yard strike to Johnell Barnes on third and 20, to highlight the seven-play drive. Jela Duncan capped off the drive with a nine-yard grab for his first career receiving touchdown.
Just as it had done throughout the first half, Troy responded to Duke’s score to pull within seven at the half. The Blue Devils finished the half with 322 yards of offense on only 32 plays with 199 yards through the air. Troy added 275 yards of total offense as the two teams combined for 49 points in an action-packed opening 30 minutes of play.
The Trojans, riding the momentum from their second-quarter finish, opened the third frame with a 91-yard drive to even the score just 1:45 into the period.
With the game tied for the first time since it was 7-7 in the second quarter, Duke jumped back in front behind the play of Connette. The redshirt junior signal caller passed or ran for all but five yards in the 75-yard drive. Connette completed 5-of-6 passes for 66 yards, including a 48-yard completion to Max McCaffrey, and finished the drive with a four-yard dash up the middle for his fifth touchdown of the afternoon.
A 37-yard field goal from Troy’s Will Scott made it 35-31 with 12:44 to play in the fourth quarter, but the Duke defense held the Trojans off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.
Ross Martin tacked on three insurance points with a 34-yard field to make it a 38-31 game with 31 seconds remaining.
The Blue Devils held the Trojans to 87 yards in the fourth quarter, forcing two punts and added an interception to earn their third victory of the season. David Helton headlined the defensive effort with a career-high 15 tackles, while Jeremy Cash finished with 14, 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception.
Anthony Young-Wiseman and Bryon Fields also reached double-figures in tackles with 12 and 10, respectively, for the Blue Devils. Duke also had 10 tackles for loss in the game, including a season-best three sacks as Justin Foxx, Jonathan Woodruff and Dezmond Johnson got to the Troy quarterback on the day.
Duke will take its first bye week next Saturday before returning home to host Navy Oct. 12.