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Duke 34, Army West Point 14

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Five total fumbles and two missed field goals spoiled the season opener for the Black Knights.

NCAA Football: Army at North Texas Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Duke Blue Devils defeated the Army West Point Black Knights 34-14 Friday evening in Durham, NC due to a number of fumbles and missed opportunities by the Black Knights.

The first quarter of play clearly reflected the start of the season as both teams suffered through miscues and overall play-calling confusion. After successfully forcing Duke to a three and out, Army fumbled on each of its first two offensive plays. While the Black Knights’ first fumble went out of bounds, the second team fumble by fullback Darnell Woolfolk resulted in a turnover. Although Army’s defense responded well by limiting the Duke offense to only 25-yards, Duke kicker Collin Wareham converted a 25-yard field goal to allow the Blue Devils to take an early 3-0 lead.

On the ensuing drive, Junior Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. executed the triple option flawlessly and helped guide Army into the red zone with the Knights averaging over five-yards per carry. Unfortunately for Army, their drive stalled around the 15-yard line and resulted in a missed 33-yard field goal by Black Knight’s sophomore kicker Landon Salyers. After the missed field goal, Duke quarterback Daniel Jones took advantage of his next posession and completed a 35-yard pass to T.J. Rahming pushing the ball into Army territory. Duke running back Brittain Brown then averaged over 9 ypc on his next five carries which concluded with a 12-yard touchdown run that increased the Duke lead to 10-0.

After another Army fumble on the proceeding drive, this time by running back Kell Walker, Duke gained control of the football at their own 29-yard line. Yet again, Jones ensured the Blue Devils capitalized on the Army turnover with a one-yard touchdown run immediately following his 61-yard pass to Aaron Young that brought the Blue Devils to the 1-yard line. Duke was then able to take that 17-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Early in the second half, the Black Knights found themselves on the right side of a turnover after Wunmi Oyetuga pounced on a Jones’ fumble. It was Hopkins Jr. who then capitalized on a turnover by going to the air and accounting for 35 passing yards in a 55-yard drive that eventually resulted in a 7-yard TD run by the Army quarterback.

To answer Hopkins Jr.’s TD run, David Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils moved the ball 68 yards in less than three minutes to take a 24-7 lead after a 7-yard TD run by Deon Jackson.

Ensuring viewers didn’t lose interest with the 17-point gap, Army’s Hopkins Jr. went back to his passing game and completed a 45-yard pass to Camden Harrison that resulted in the sophomore’s first collegiate touchdown cutting the Duke lead to 24-14. Army would never make the game any closer.

Instead, Duke answered with another Jones to Young pass play that the receiver was able to cash in for his first touchdown of the season to take the 31-14 lead. A 25-yard field goal by Wareham later increased the lead to 34-14 resulting in the Blue Devils not only covering the spread (-13.5), but also hitting the over (45.5).

Statistical Leaders:

Passing: Duke - Jones 13/17, 197 yards, 1 TD; Army - Hopkins Jr. 10/21, 197 yards, 1 TD

Rushing: Duke - Brown 11 carries, 75 yards, 1 TD; Army - Holt 7 carries, 54 yards

Receiving: Duke - Young 4 rec, 114 yards, 1 TD; Army - Harrison 3 rec, 92 yards, 1 TD

Upcoming Games:

Duke will play Northwestern on 9/8 at 12:00 EDT on ESPNU.

Army West Point will play Liberty on 9/8 at 12:00 EDT on CBSSN.