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Top Ten Upset: Duke Blue Devils Take Down #9 Clemson Tigers 28-7

Banner at Duke University
"Duke Banner" by eekim via Flickr

The unranked Duke Blue Devils hosted the #9 Clemson Tigers on Monday night on Tobacco Road in Durham, NC. The raucous crowd that normally packed into Cameron Indoor Stadium for basketball games changed venues and packed out Wallace-Wade Stadium to cheer on the Blue Devils football team as they faced off against the defending ACC champions.

Game Summary/Notes

In the first half, Clemson QB Cade Klubnik passed for just 85 yards and a TD, while Duke QB Riley Leonard passed for 146 yards. Clemson played penalty-free football and forced two Duke turnovers.

Clemson had a field goal blocked, and Duke capitalized and converted their own field goal. Duke would later add another field goal to take a 6-0 lead.

In the 2nd quarter, Duke fumbled a Clemson punt. The Tigers took advantage and drove for a go-ahead touchdown to take a 7-6 lead at halftime.

In the 2nd half, Leonard ran the ball off the right side, breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage, and ran down the right sideline 44 yards for a touchdown and a 13-7 lead.

The Tigers later had another field goal blocked, their second of the game.

Clemson would later drive to the Blue Devils 1-yard line, but RB Phil Mafah fumbled the ball going in and the ball was scooped up by Duke’s Jaylen Stinson and returned 55 yards to the Clemson 33-yard line. Duke would drive and score again for a 21-7 lead.

With a little over five minutes left in the game, Klubnik threw an interception that killed yet another drive for the Tigers. Duke did what they had been doing all night, capitalizing on Clemson's turnovers. Duke RB Jordan Waters ran over the right side 36 yards for a touchdown for the final points of the night.

Final Score: Duke 28 – #9 Clemson 7

Key Play of the Game

On the Duke possession to start the 2nd half, Leonard broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and ran the ball, on 3rd and 3, 44 yards for a touchdown to put Duke up 13-7. Duke would not relinquish the lead.

MVP for Clemson Tigers

RB Will Shipley rushed for 114 yards, no rushing touchdowns, but did score on a TD pass for Clemson’s only score of the game.

MVP’s for Duke Blue Devils

QB Riley Leonard had 175 yards passing, 98 yards rushing (12-yard avg.), and the aforementioned 44-yard touchdown run. And, the Duke offensive line. This unit allowed zero sacks against the (cough, cough) “vaunted” Clemson defense.

What the win means for Duke

It was the largest margin of victory (21 points) vs. Clemson since…1936. And it was the first win vs. a Top Ten opponent in 29 tries (since 1989).

What the loss means for Clemson

Being ranked #9 was the lowest Clemson had been ranked since a #12 ranking in 2015. They may fall out of the Top 25 when the AP Poll comes out. Not to mention a loss in the conference right out of the gate.

Klubnik lost a fumble on the exchange at the one-yard line and threw an interception as the full-time starter for the Tigers. Clearly, he did not perform well on the prime-time stage against an unranked team. The wide receivers dropped a lot of passes. And, missed scoring opportunities: 2 missed field goals, and two fumbles inside the 10-yard line.

Next up…

Duke hosts Lafayette on Saturday, September 9th. Clemson hosts Charleston Southern on Saturday. Both on a short week of preparation.


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