MEMPHIS, Tenn. —Brandon Connette, subbing for injured starter Anthony Boone, threw for 198 yards and a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to lead Duke past Memphis 28-14 on Saturday afternoon.
The victory marked the first time since 1998 that the Blue Devils have opened the season 2-0, and like in their opener against North Carolina Central, the defense showed good signs at times in the victory over the Tigers (0-1).
Connette was 14 of 21 after entering in the second quarter when Boone, the Duke starter, left the game with an injury to his right side and didn't return.
Memphis scored its touchdowns on a 75-yard interception return by Bobby McCain in the first half and an 11-yard run by Jai Steib. Steib's came in the early stages of the fourth quarter before Connette's passing put it out of reach.
Duke big-play receiver Jamison Crowder finished the game with 11 catches for 140 yards.
Duke's defense at times stymied the Memphis offense, limiting the Tigers to only 1 yard of offense in the second quarter and holding Memphis without a first down from the first quarter to the midway point of the third.
Duke ended the game with 470 yards of offense to 237 for Memphis, 70 of those coming in three plays when Memphis tied the score at 14 early in the fourth.
Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, a redshirt freshman starting his first game, finished the day completing 14 of 24 passes for 148 yards.
Both teams lost a pair of fumbles.
The game was a return to the area for Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who coached Ole Miss, located just over an hour south of Memphis for six seasons.
The first half was dominated by the Duke defense, which allowed the Tigers only 72 yards of offense, including the 1 net yard in the second quarter. Memphis recorded only two first downs in the half against a Duke defense that shutout North Carolina Central last Saturday 45-0.
But, while the Blue Devils were collecting 176 yards of offense, the teams were tied at 7.
The Duke touchdown came on a 23-yard run by Boone in the first quarter.
But Boone's only interception of the game led to Memphis' only score. Tiger cornerback Bobby McCain cut in front of a Boone pass to Crowder and with a convoy of Tigers escorting him, he went 75 yards to tie the game on the first play of the second quarter.
The Memphis offense continued to struggle in the early stages of the third, but Duke could at least manage an 8-yard scoring run by Juwan Thompson to take the lead at 14-7.
When the Memphis offense got untracked, it resulted in a 3-play, 70-yard drive, the final 11 coming on a scoring pass from Lynch to Steib.
At that point, Connette connected on the pair of touchdown passes to provide Duke its best start in 15 years.