DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke outgained North Carolina Central 488-184 to run away with a 45-0 victory over the Eagles to kick off the 2013 football season. The shutout was the first for the Blue Devils since Nov. 18, 1989 against North Carolina.
Saturday’s season opener featured a balanced offensive effort for the Blue Devils with six different players scoring touchdowns. Overall, Duke gained 257 yards on the ground with sophomore Jela Duncan and redshirt junior Josh Snead leading the way with 76 and 53 yards, respectively.
Redshirt junior quarterback Anthony Boone, in his second career start, connected on 16-of-20 passes for 176 yards while adding a rushing touchdown. Backup quarterback Brandon Connette threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another, with Duncan, junior Jamison Crowder and redshirt junior Issac Blakeney rounding out the scoring group.
Redshirt junior Braxton Deaver and Connette teamed up to tally the first points of the 2013 campaign with 5:09 left in the first quarter. After a 25-yard punt return from Crowder put the Blue Devils in N.C. Central territory, Duke used a balance of passing and running to get to the Eagles’ 5-yard line. Connette took over from there, moving the ball to the three on his own and capping the drive with a three-yard toss to Deaver in the left corner of the end zone.
Duke continued to dominate defensively, allowing just one first down before the Eagles were forced to punt for the second straight time. Fresh off of his 25-yard scamper on the previous punt, Crowder took the second 76 yards all the way back to the house. The 76-yard return marked the seventh longest in Duke history and was the junior’s first career punt return for a touchdown.
With one passing touchdown already on the afternoon, Connette took advantage of a 19-yard pass from Boone to senior Brandon Braxton to the two-yard line to set up the redshirt junior quarterback’s one-yard plunge into the end zone for a 21-0 lead.
Boone, who went 14-of-17 for 153 yards in the first half, closed out the scoring with a one-yard rush for six points. The first-year starter combined for 54 yards on the 11-play, 73-yard drive that sent the Blue Devils into the half with a 28-0 lead. The touchdown came on the heels of a fumble recovery for a touchdown by the Eagles that was overturned after a replay.
The Blue Devils, after forcing the Eagles to punt for the sixth time of the afternoon, took over at the N.C. Central 44. After two first-down completions from Boone to Crowder, Duncan took over with 16 and 13-yard carries to put Duke back inside the 5-yard line. Coming out of an Eagle timeout, Duncan punched the ball in from the three for his fifth career rushing touchdown.
Ross Martin tacked on a 39-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to put the final score at 45-0.
Duke dominated in all facets of the game, outgaining the Eagles 488-184 and holding them to just nine first downs. Junior David Helton and redshirt junior Kelby Brown led all defensive players with seven total tackles, while redshirt sophomore Jeremy Cash recorded five, including four solo and a tackle for loss, in his first game in a Blue Devil uniform.
The Blue Devils hit the road next weekend, traveling to Memphis, Tenn., Saturday, Sept. 7 for a 4:30 p.m. tilt with the Tigers. That game will be broadcast on ESPN3.