6 plays that mattered most:
A breakdown of Duke’s 38-20 victory over N.C. State.
Boone’s big throw
• Score: Duke 0, N.C. State 0, early first quarter.
• Situation: Duke ball, 1st-and-10 at its 21.
• The play: In shotgun formation, Anthony Boone faked a handoff. The play-action allowed Boone time to set up and Jamison Crowder, on the outside, to run a go route past Juston Burris. The deep pass went for 75 yards to N.C. State’s 4. Duke scored on the next play, when Boone faked another handoff on a zone read and ran in untouched.
• Why it mattered: Boone struggled in his previous start, throwing four interceptions against Virginia Tech. He rebounded on Duke’s first drive with the longest completion of his career.
4th-down gamble backfires again
• Score: Duke 7, N.C. State 0, about 10:00 left in second quarter.
• Situation: N.C. State ball, 4th-and-1 at its 26.
• The play: After calling a timeout, Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren had running quarterback Brandon Mitchell on the bench as Pete Thomas handed off to Shadrach Thornton, who was hit behind the line of scrimmage for no gain. Duke took over at the 26.
• Why it mattered: Last week, Doeren tried a fake punt on a fourth down deep in N.C. State’s territory. It didn’t work, and North Carolina used the short field to score the go-ahead points. Saturday, Doeren gambled and lost again. This time, his defense bailed him out and held Duke to a field goal.
Smith’s return gives Wolfpack life
• Score: Duke 10, N.C. State 3, 7:30 left in third quarter.
• Situation: Duke punting, 4th-and-10 at its 25.
• The play: Will Monday’s punt traveled 48 yards. Rashard Smith caught it at his 27 and quickly found an opening up the middle. Smith weaved through several Blue Devils and raced toward the sideline for a 73-yard tying touchdown.
• Why it mattered: N.C. State needed a jolt and got it when Smith scored on a punt return for the second time this season. The touchdown was sandwiched by two Niklas Sade field goals, part of N.C. State’s 13-0 run.
Duke’s Edwards answers from 100 yards
• Score: N.C. State 13, Duke 10, 3:57 left in third quarter.
• Situation: N.C. State kicking off after taking its first lead on Sade’s 24-yard field goal.
• The play: DeVon Edwards caught the kickoff with one foot in his end zone. Duke created a seam in the middle, and Edwards found it. One Wolfpack defender dived at him, but nobody else had a legitimate chance. Edwards outran the kicker to complete a 100-yard touchdown return.
• Why it mattered: N.C. State scored 13 consecutive points to take the lead and momentum. It had shut down Duke’s offense, allowing just one field goal and intercepting Boone three times after that opening drive. Edwards erased all of that with the second-longest kickoff return for a touchdown in Duke history.
Mitchell strikes back
• Score: Duke 17, N.C. State 13, 6:50 left in fourth quarter.
• Situation: N.C. State ball, 3rd-and-10 at N.C. State 20.
• The play: A go route to Quinton Payton on the left sideline. Mitchell, swapping with Pete Thomas, had just thrown two incompletions, but he connected with Payton on a deep ball. Payton shook off a tackle attempt and jogged into the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown.
• Why it mattered: The Wolfpack’s passing game struggled. Mitchell provided the one bright spot when he found Payton for a go-ahead score. The lead didn’t last long, however.
Edwards’ Pick-6 combo
• Score: Duke 24, N.C. State 20, 3:30 left in fourth quarter.
• Situation: N.C. State ball, 1st-and-10 at N.C. State 25.
• The plays: Edwards, who returned a kickoff for a score earlier, intercepted two consecutive passes and returned both for touchdowns late in a 26-second span. He tipped and intercepted a Mitchell pass for a 25-yard touchdown, then after Duke kicked off, he intercepted Thomas’ pass and returned that 45 yards for his third score.
• Why they mattered: It was still a one-possession game when Edwards returned the first interception for a touchdown to push Duke’s lead to 31-20. The second one sealed Duke’s first winning season since 1994.