WEST POINT, N.Y. - Redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Renfree came off the bench to throw two touchdowns and senior cornerback Leon Wright returned a pair of interceptions for scores as Duke rallied from a 10-7 halftime deficit to defeat Army, 35-19, on Saturday afternoon in front of 25,698 fans at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y.
Seeing his first action in a Duke uniform, Renfree completed seven-of-eight passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon.
"It was a must win just like all our games," Renfree said. "It was a great opportunity to go out and show people how we can really play."
Army scored on its first possession of the game, marching 79 yards on five plays for a two-yard touchdown run by quarterback Trent Steelman. The drive was highlighted by Patrick Mealy's 55-yard scamper on the opening snap. Following a Duke turnover, the Black Knights pushed the lead to 10-0 at the 13:38 mark of the second quarter when Alex Carlton booted a 43-yard field goal.
The Blue Devils missed a chance to get on the scoreboard when Will Snyderwine misfired on a 28-yard field goal attempt less than five minutes into the second quarter. The opportunity was set up by a Leon Wright fumble recovery in Army territory.
On the strength of quarterback Thaddeus Lewis's 50th career touchdown pass, Duke pulled within 10-7 at the 5:52 mark of the second period. Lewis capped a seven-play, 53-yard drive with a 14-yard scoring toss to wideout Conner Vernon. Army responded by driving the length of the field, but Carlton missed a short field goal at the end of the half.
Duke claimed its first lead of the game at the 7:44 mark of the third period after defensive tackle John Drew recovered a fumble to give the Blue Devils possession at the 19 yard line. Throwing the first pass of his collegiate career, backup quarterback Sean Renfree hooked up with tight end Brett Huffman for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
After a Black Knight field goal made the score 14-13, the Blue Devils drove 78 yards in nine plays for a 31-yard scoring strike from Renfree to wide receiver Donovan Varner. Snyderwine's extra point gave Duke a 21-13 advantage less than one minute into the fourth period. The drive was keyed by a 10-yard pass from Renfree to Johnny Williams to convert a third down-and-three snap from the Duke 48 yard line.
Wright secured Duke's first win of the year with a school single-game record two interception returns for touchdowns just 16 seconds apart late in the game. His 51-yarder - the 15th-longest interception return for a touchdown in Duke history - came at the 1:48 mark and made the score 28-13 before his 33-yard effort increased the advantage to 35-13. Army accounted for the final margin with a touchdown on the game's final snap.
At halftime of the contest, Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski was honored on the field as a member of Army's Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2009.
The Blue Devils travel to face Kansas next Saturday. Kickoff in Lawrence, Kan., is set for 12 noon (ET) and the game will be televised live by the VERSUS network.