BLACKSBURG, Va. – The numbers suggested it was the same old Duke: 0-for-11 on third-down conversions, a 387 to 198 deficit in total offense, and a whopping 39:27 to 20:33 disadvantage in time of possession.
The difference was that these Blue Devils won, stunning No. 16 Virginia Tech 13-10 on Saturday, and all but clinching what will be the first consecutive bowl appearances in program history.
"It is a historical victory and they should be proud of that," Duke coach David Cutcliffe, in his sixth season, said. "It is a distinct step in the right direction, and it is a big step."
That joy was not lost on his players, who rallied from a 22-0 deficit a week ago and beat Virginia 35-22, and ended a 12-game losing streak against the Hokies with their first victory in the series since 1981.
"Being a part of a change in the program is the most amazing feeling you can have," linebacker David Helton said after contributing 19 tackles and a key pass deflection. "It feels out of this world."
Anthony Boone ran for a touchdown, Ross Martin kicked two long field goals and the Blue Devils even overcame four turnovers to end a long history of futility against ranked teams.
"This is the reason each one of these players came to Duke," left guard David Harding said. "We came to Duke when it wasn't the cool thing to do. ... There's no luck involved. Our playmakers made plays when they had to."
The Blue Devils (6-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat a ranked team for the first time since they stopped No. 13 Virginia in 1994, and beat one on the road for the first time since Stanford in 1971.
"Two unreal field goals, our offense coming through at the end when we needed them," said linebacker Kelby Brown, whose interception with about 4 1/2 minutes to go, and Brandon Connette's 3-yard run on fourth-and-1, allowed the Blue Devils to run out the clock. "We did everything we needed to do to win."
Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-1) had its six-game winning streak end as Logan Thomas threw four interceptions, the last on a deflection in the closing minutes with a packed stadium looking for a dramatic victory.
"There's a fine line between winning and losing and we've been walking that line," Hokies offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. "Today our kids learned how important the details are - lining up correctly, not jumping offsides, the four turnovers. All these things will come back to bite you."
Virginia Tech had a touchdown called back when D.J. Coles was whistled for illegal motion just before catching a 2-yard scoring pass. On the next play, Ross Cockrell intercepted Thomas in the end zone.
Two flags and some shifty running by Boone helped Duke take a 13-0 lead in the third quarter.
Linebacker Jack Tyler was flagged for pass interference, and Kyshoen Jarrett for defensive holding two plays later, setting Duke up at the Hokies' 26. From there, Boone ran for six yards, for 11 yards and for the final nine on consecutive plays, and the Blue Devils were poised for their historic win.
Boone ran 11 times for 44 yards, and hit on just 7 of 25 passes for 107 yards.
Things looked even more bleak for Virginia Tech when Thomas threw his third interception on the Hokies' next series, a pass that was broken up by Helton and pulled in by Jeremy Cash, but the nation's No. 2 defense forced a three-and-out and Thomas and the offense finally came to life.
After a review, the ensuing punt was ruled downed at the 1, and with fans jeering the call, Thomas hit Demitri Knowles streaking down the left sideline for 56 yards on the first play. Thomas ran for 21 yards on two carries, hit Coles for 12 yards and ran it in with 11 seconds left in the third quarter.
Thomas finished with 101 yards rushing on 24 carries, and hit 21 of 38 passes for 214 yards.
After another three-and-out for Duke, the Hokies drove to Cody Journell's 42-yard field goal that made it 13-10 with 9:23 left. When Boone threw deep for Jamison Crowder and freshman Kendall Fuller intercepted for the third time in the game moments later, the Hokies drove, but stalled at the Blue Devils' 23.
Journell had already missed once in the game, and five times in 12 tries on the season, and he did again, pulling a 40-yard try wide left to keep Duke in front as the crowd groaned in disbelief.
Brown's interception, and Duke's ability to hang onto the ball, finished the upset.
"I'm awfully glad we got an open date," Cutcliffe said, referring to Duke’s bye week next Saturday. "I think everyone's a little bit on cloud nine now. They deserve to stay up there a few days."
Martin accounted for all the first-half scoring with field goals of 51 and 53 yards, the later a career-best on the final play of the first half.
Virginia Tech had numerous scoring chances, but Thomas' pass was broken up on a fourth-and-11 from the Blue Devils' 31 on the Hokies' first series, he threw an interception in the end zone from the 1 yard-line in the second quarter and Journell's 45-yard field goal hit the left upright late in the half.
The Blue Devils were turned away with nothing twice in Hokies territory. Fuller's second interception of the day came after Duke drove to the Virginia Tech 18, and Tariq Edwards tipped a ball that Dadi Nicolas intercepted at the Duke 17 after the Blue Devils reached the Virginia Tech 12 yard-line.