Duke Now

Sirk, Blue Devils overwhelm NC Central

Laura Keeley and Luke DeCock on Duke's win in the new Wallace Wade Stadium

News & Observer sports writers Laura Keeley and Luke DeCock analyze the Blue Devils' big win over NC Central in the newly renovated Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, NC.
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News & Observer sports writers Laura Keeley and Luke DeCock analyze the Blue Devils' big win over NC Central in the newly renovated Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, NC.

Duke didn’t waste any time putting away N.C. Central, showing the difference in Power Five football versus FCS in a 55-0 win over the Eagles. The Blue Devils scored 24 first-half points and added another touchdown on the opening drive of the second half for good measure. Starting quarterback Thomas Sirk went 15-for-22 for 315 yards and three touchdowns, including a few nice deep balls (44 yards to Johnell Barnes and a 43-yard touchdown reception to Max McCaffrey). Sirk also ran for 86 yards on nine attempts (9.6 yards per carry) in his three quarters of work.

Turning point

N.C. Central’s best chance to make it a game was on Duke’s first offensive series, when Thomas Sirk threw a deep ball that was intercepted by the Eagles’ Ryan Smith. The pick was waived off, though, by a defensive offsides penalty. The Blue Devils didn’t make any major mistakes after that.

Three who mattered

Thomas Sirk: Continued to make the case that Duke’s quarterback change improved the team instead of setting it back.

Shaun Wilson: The running back was Duke’s leading receiver, catching three passes for 102 yards.

Brandon Boyce: The true freshman defensive tackle played on Duke’s second defensive series and recorded four total tackles and a half tackle for loss.

Three key numbers

0 Times N.C. Central crossed midfield in the first half

3 Eagles’ penalties that Duke declined in the first half. Those were in addition to the six penalties—four defensive offsides — for 35 yards that Duke accepted.

3 First downs for N.C. Central in the first half (compared to 15 for Duke).

Highlight reel

Wilson took a swing pass from Sirk 89 yards into the end zone to put Duke ahead 41-0 in the third quarter. Wilson danced along the left sideline, evading one would-be tackler, before finding another gear and separating away from the rest of the N.C. Central defense.

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