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Duke Knocks Off Northwestern On The Road, 31-23

A tight and exciting game at the end

NCAA Football: Duke at Northwestern
Sep 10, 2022; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Duke Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard (13) passes against Northwestern Wildcats defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore (99) during the first quarter against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. 
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Duke recorded an impressive road win at Northwestern, 31-23, to move to 2-0 on the young season.

The Blue Devils ripped off a 21-0 first quarter lead and it looked like it might be a total rout.

Didn’t work out that way.

Northwestern outscored Duke 10-7 in the second as the Blue Devils took a 21-10 lead into the half.

The Wildcats scored another TD in the third to cut the lead to 21-16. Duke countered with a Riley Leonard pass to Jaquez Moore with 13:33 left in 4th to push the lead to 28-16.

Northwestern countered with a 10-play, 80 yard drive for a touchdown to cut the lead to 5 at 28-23.

Duke marched downfield and Charlie Ham scored a field goal with 1:18 left to push the lead to 31-23 which seemed safe with 1:18 left.

But the Wildcats marched downfield and were in scoring position.

But Evan Hull fumbled and it was recovered by Duke’s Defensive Back Brandon Johnson with :12 seconds left and the Blue Devils of course ran out the clock to move to 2-0 on the young season.

If the Temple game was impressive for how well Duke controlled both the offense and the defense, Northwestern was more so. The Wildcats are not an elite Big Ten team - like Duke, academics make that challenging - but it’s a much more significant win than Temple was.

And now the path is open for Duke, if things go well, to move to 4-0. NC A&T is next up, at home, followed by a trip to Lawrence to see the Jayhawks. Kansas, which struggles like Duke often has in football, is in its second season under Lance Liepold and coming off a 2-10 year.

If Duke wins both, and that’s no guarantee obviously, the Blue Devils will then see Virginia, Georgia Tech and UNC.

It’s a bit early for wild-eyed optimism, but things are going better than we expected.