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— story and pictures by Patrick Magoon (patrickmagoon.com) of WIZS — Patrick Magoon is a recent UNC-C communications graduate looking to build his sports portfolio by writing and taking photos for WIZS
In a sloppy, mistake-filled fight between two teams recovering from disappointing loses, Duke overcame its offensive woes in crunch time to defeat the Miami Hurricanes and finish their season with a not-so-great-but-optimistic-for-the-future record of 5-7 (3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Duke Blue Devils quarterback Quentin Harris finished his college career on a high note, leading two fourth-quarter touchdown drives and ending an unpleasant five-game losing streak.
A dominant nine-sack defensive performance led by defensive end Chris Rumph II, who recorded a team-high 3.5 sacks, allowed just two touchdowns through four quarters of football.
Here are game grades from Saturday’s win:
Offensive line: C-
Duke’s offensive line crumbled under pressure multiple times, which allowed Miami’s defense to rack up six sacks and 10 TFL.
Although Quentin Harris put on an impressive show in the fourth quarter, we cannot ignore his poor execution on several passing plays in the first half. Numerous passes sailed over the head of the intended receiver and Duke’s offensive unit often appeared disoriented from pre-snap motions. Harris completed just 10-of-24 passes for 156 yards and rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Wide receivers: B-
The wide receiver group led by Jalon Calhoun combined for 156 yards and averaged 15.6 yards per reception. Despite some clear instances of miscommunication between Harris and his receivers, the group made some big plays in dreary weather.
Running backs: B
A relentless rushing attack in tough conditions resulted in a pair of touchdowns, which helped the Blue Devils seal the win. Duke outran Miami 131-98 with help from Mataeo Durant, who executed an impressive 42-yard run through traffic.
Defensive line/linebackers: B+
Duke’s stout defensive line and talented group of linebackers demonstrated superior situation awareness by constantly changing their stances to better contain Miami’s ground game. With strength and good communication, Duke’s front seven prevented the Hurricanes from reaching triple-digit rushing totals. After giving up an average of 42 points per game each of the last three weeks, a refreshed Blue Devils showed out to give fans hope for better seasons to come.
Members of the secondary looked solid in man coverage, batting down six passes and forcing opposing receivers out of position. With their help, the Blue Devils gave up just one passing touchdown.