Duke

Pitt hands Duke its third consecutive loss

Duke wide receiver Johnell Barnes leaves the field after Pitt handed the Blue Devils their third loss in as many weeks with a 31-13 victory at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Duke wide receiver Johnell Barnes leaves the field after Pitt handed the Blue Devils their third loss in as many weeks with a 31-13 victory at Wallace Wade Stadium. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Duke’s defense continued its implosion against competent offensive teams as untimely mistakes ultimately sent the Blue Devils to their third straight loss. This latest one came in 31-13 fashion at home to Pittsburgh.

A 10-10 game at halftime quickly became all Pitt as the Panthers scored touchdowns on their first three drives of the second half. Pitt’s first two drives in that series were aided mightily by Duke. Two penalties took away third-down stops on the first one, and both DeVon Edwards and Dwayne Norman got hands on a Tyler Boyd fumble that Pitt ended up recovering on the second.

With Thomas Sirk out with an upper-body injury, Parker Boehme, a redshirt sophomore, was dealt no favors by Duke’s inconsistent receiving corps (a dropped touchdown pass by Johnell Barnes in the third quarter was especially painful). Boehme was satisfactory, completing 54.8 percent of his passes (23-for-42) for 248 yards and two garbage-time turnovers, an interception and a fumble in the fourth quarter. He rushed for 80 yards and a score, too. He also wasn’t gun shy about throwing down the field.

Turning point

The Blue Devils had two third-down stops wiped out by penalties on Pitt’s first drive of the second half. Deion Williams sacked Nate Peterman on third-and-10 from the Duke 26-yard line, but defensive holding on Jeremy Cash (who was covering Pitt wide receiver Tyler Boyd) extended the drive. And Breon Borders intercepted a pass in the end zone on third-and-13, but it was wiped out thanks to a pass interference call against him. Pitt finished the drive with a touchdown to go ahead 17-10.

Three who mattered

Nate Peterman: Pitt quarterback picked Duke secondary apart, completing 56.5 percent of his passes (13-for-23) for 180 yards and three touchdowns

Pitt receivers not named Tyler Boyd: Combined for eight catches, 123 yards and three touchdowns (Dontez Ford, Zach Collingsworth, J.P. Holtz)

Jeremy McDuffie: Freshman cornerback started for the second straight game and was picked on consistently

Three key numbers

81 Yards on Pitt’s first touchdown drive of the second half (10 plays, 5:16 off the clock)

74 Yards on Pitt’s second touchdown drive of the second half (nine plays, 4:53)

75 Yards on Pitt’s third touchdown drive of the second half (eight plays, 3:59)

Highlight reel

Duke wide receiver Max McCaffrey turned in as good a pass break-up as any defender, knocking a ball away from Pitt nose tackle Justin Moody to save Boehme an interception in the second quarter.

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