Duke made quick work of Middle Tennessee State on Saturday night, riding Quentin Harris’ accurate right arm to a lopsided road win.
Harris completed his first 12 passes on the way to amassing 237 passing yards with four touchdown throws as the Blue Devils blasted the Blue Raiders 41-18 at Johnny Floyd Stadium.
A redshirt senior, Harris tossed three touchdown passes in the first half as Duke (2-1) built a 31-3 halftime lead.
Middle Tennessee (1-2) scored the game’s first points, putting together a 51-yard drive on the game’s first possession before Crews Holt booted a 41-yard field goal.
That early 3-0 deficit didn’t faze Duke.
Four Harris completed passes moved the Blue Devils into Middle Tennessee State territory. After a pair of runs for no gain, Duke faced fourth-and-1 from the Blue Raiders’ 18. Rather than kick the field goal to tie the score, Duke coach David Cutcliffe left his offense on the field and Harris completed a 4-yard pass to tight end Noah Gray.
Three plays later, Deon Jackson’s 3-yard touchdown run gave Duke a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Harris’ 12-yard touchdown pass to Jalon Calhoun with 18 seconds left in the first quarter extended Duke’s lead to 14-3.
With Duke up 17-3, Harris’ streak of consecutive completed passes reached 12 when wide receiver Aaron Young made a tough catch while falling out of bounds to gain 18 yards on a third-and-4 play. Though he threw two incomplete passes on the drive, Harris ended it with an 11-yard scoring strike to freshman wide receiver Eli Pancol, giving Duke a 24-3 lead.
Duke built its 31-3 halftime lead when Harris tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Young, who controlled the ball in the corner of the end zone and got one foot in despite defensive pressure. The play was initially called incomplete but reversed after a replay review.
Duke’s wide receivers displayed strong pass-catching skills, helping Harris complete 24-of-27 passes. Young had six passes thrown his way, catching all six to gain 106 yards with two touchdowns. Harris threw seven passes toward Calhoun, who caught six of them for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Duke’s defensive front was stronger and quicker than the Blue Raiders who were blocking them. Duke defensive end Chris Rumph had a strong night, with four tackles for losses (two sacks) and three quarterback hurries.
About the only thing Duke has to fret about is junior running back Brittain Brown not being healthy enough to travel due to an upper-body injury. Deon Jackson and Mataeo Durant took the bulk of the carries in his place.
After Duke scored its first touchdown to move in front, Cutcliffe kept his team on the attack by instructing kicker AJ Reed execute an onsides kick. Wide receiver Damond Philyaw-Johnson recovered the ball for the Blue Devils at the Blue Raiders 47. Duke needed only five plays to score another touchdown.
7: Consecutive Duke drives that resulted in points. They came on the first seven times Duke had the ball. The first drive where Duke didn’t score came in the fourth quarter.
11: Tackles for losses recorded by Duke’s defense., including six sacks That, along with 10 quarterback hurries, shows how Duke’s defensive front pushed Middle Tennessee around.
107: Rushing yards gained by Harris to lead the Blue Devils. That included a 65-yard run on Duke’s first possession of the third quarter.