Mission accomplished as Duke beats Army 44-3

Duke running back Jela Duncan (25) runs the ball for a touchdown against against Army during the first half in West Point, N.Y.
Duke running back Jela Duncan (25) runs the ball for a touchdown against against Army during the first half in West Point, N.Y. AP

The Blue Devils were well-prepared for the run-based option offense after defeating Georgia Tech two weeks ago. But Army did have the advantage of a full game’s worth of tape showing how Duke planned to defend the scheme.

Didn’t matter.

Duke rolled to a 44-3 win over the Black Knights at West Point, taking advantage in the break from Power Five level competition. The Blue Devils (5-1) scored on five of its first six drives and a 27-0 halftime lead. For the game, Duke averaged 5.87 yards per play.

The defense did force three turnovers, including one in the third quarter to keep the Black Knights out of the end zone. Army had third-and-goal at the 2-yard line, but linebacker Dwayne Norman drilled the ball loose from quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw’s grasp, and Jeremy Cash recovered the fumble.

Turning point

The Blue Devils defense knocked out Army starting quarterback A.J. Schurr on the Black Knights’ second drive, after seven straight QB runs. On the next snap, fourth-and-1 from the Army 35-yard line, backup quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw was rocked by Jeremy Cash as he threw an errant pitch to the A back, who was rocked by Deondre Singleton. The play lost 18 yards, and it took Duke just four plays to score on the short field and go up 10-0.

Three who mattered

Thomas Sirk: Finished 17-for-27 (63 percent) for 197 yards and a touchdown, along with 53 rushing yards

Dwayne Norman: senior linebacker finished with 11 tackles, 10 of them solo and one for a loss

Ben Humphries: Freshman linebacker recovered the first fumble of his career at the start of the second quarter, setting up Duke’s second touchdown

Three key numbers

75:38 Game time Duke went without a touchdown, a streak that ended with 1:11 left in the first quarter

2 Straight first halves Duke has not allowed a passing yard in the first half (Boston College and Army)

44 Total offensive yards for Army in the first half, while the game was competitive

Highlight reel

Running back Jela Duncan scored his first touchdown in nearly two years in the second quarter, breaking free for a 43-yard run midway through the second quarter to put the Blue Devils ahead 24-0. Duncan carried two Black Knights into the end zone with him, finishing the run strong.