Saturday, September 13, 2008
Ka-Ching (for Riley, Duke, and Barack)!
We walked into Wally Wade about 10 minutes before kickoff, and I began having terrible flashbacks of Old Duke Football. The stadium was nearly empty, as seen below.
But as the game progressed through the 1st quarter the stadium started to fill out more. Clearly night games are bigger and better, so hopefully we’ll see more of those on the schedule. Plus, I need some relief as I’m now typing while sore from a classic Wally Wade bleacher sunburn.
But more important than the Old Duke crowd was the fact that New Duke was on the field. Old Duke lost this type of game. New Duke finishes the job in style. Thad and Eron Riley became the most prolific TD passing duo in school history, connecting for 3TDs in a very impressive win. Check this out from GoDuke: In the last two games against Navy, Lewis is combined for 48-of-71 passing for 745 yards and 7 TDs while Riley has combined for 14 catches for 372 yards and all seven of those touchdowns.
Riley’s third TD was a 50 yarder over the middle in which he simply outran the Midshipmen. At one point it looked like he would be taken down, but as he turned up the field near the sideline, he turned on those Heisman-winning afterburners and scored. His second was only five yards, but he made a great move and lunge to just get the ball over the goalline. And Thad looked so much better than he did last week. 25-of-35, 317 yards, and no interceptions. Very rad.
Now for some lazy-writer bullet points…
* The third quarter continues to be where Duke impresses me most. The defense started with a 3-and-out and Duke scored TDs on both of its possessions of the quarter. Especially considering how poorly the 2nd quarter went, it was great to see them come out with so much energy.
* Duke ended the game with a beautiful 7-minute drive that completely gobbled up the clock. The plan was simple: run two straight runs up the middle for no gain, then convert on a pass. And it worked. And by the end of the drive, the runs that had not worked all game became successful as well. A thing of beauty, though Old Duke came back on the last two plays of the drive which were a QB fumble and QB trip.
* In addition to that drive, Duke just did some things well to win a game that could have gone either way. About half way through the fourth quarter, Adrian Aye-Darko came up with a huge diving interception. Add that to a fumble return for a TD earlier in the game, and the defense, which by no means played great, came up with two huge plays that helped swing the game.
* Two punts downed within the five… good day for the new-and-improved Kevin Jones
* Duke punt returners need to call fair catch more often. Leon Wright botched a punt as a man was charging right on him, which led to an easy Navy TD.
* While I’m being negative, the end of the first half was almost fatal (and I’m really surprised it wasn’t). Up 14-10, a Duke DB had an easy pick with 3:30 to go that went through his hands and into the arms of a Navy receiver. This led to a field goal, 17-17. We get the ball back with 1:30 (after a penalty on the kickoff pinned us back), and decide to make some magic. Three unimpressive plays later, and Navy’s got the ball. And a few quick runs later, we’re down a touchdown. And we still got the ball back with 22 seconds. 10 points in one minute… not good.
* Inexplicably, after Thad had led the team to two straight TDs to start the second half, the first drive of the fourth quarter belonged to Zach Asack. He was not sharp, and we went 3-and-out. This being a family site, I once again fail to truly express my feelings about this decision.
Why is this man on the bench during a crucial moment? Never again, Cut!
*But enough complaining… Back to the good stuff… Joe Surgan, the same Joe Surgan who was about 50-50 anytime he lined up for an extra point, drilled a 52-yarder to end the half. Redemption! (Maybe)
* I am pleased to announce that we were reunited with Crazy Sweaty Guy. While the afternoon heat and lack of pre-game tailgaiting time clearly hindered his performance, he did have one special move up his sleeve (well, if he wore sleeves). For the traditional key rattling during kickoffs, he pulls out a gigantic ring of easily 100 keys. What’s the one thing that makes Crazy Sweaty Guy scarier than he already is? Knowing that he can get into your dorm room at night.
* Duke is undefeated in games attended by Big Daddy, so Wally Wade might want to be more accommodating. There were a lot more empty seats today, so we took our general admission tickets and decided to upgrade closer to the middle of the field. And while the three white people in our group were able to come and go as we pleased, the only man whose ticket was checked was the big, black man, who was briefly exiled back behind the endzone. Come on Duke, I expect better (well, actually, I don’t).
* Before the game, Republican groups were passing out McCain stickers, which became an all-too-common sight around campus. But Barack would have the last laugh; Obama picked up a lot of Dude money with this win, two turnovers, and three Eron Riley TDs.
* I’ll leave you with an anonymous quote heard as leaving the stadium: “The winning feels so much better than the losing.”