Duke used the right leg of Ross Martin and another supreme effort from its defense to hold on and beat Boston College 9-7 in a battle of two defensive stalwarts.
It was a game that set offensive football back 100 years but in the landscape of college football and in the process of still building a program its still a win.
The Blue Devils improved to 4-1 (2-0 ACC) thanks mainly to Martin who was 3 for 3 from field goal range including a 53 yard make. All of Martin’s kicks came in the first half and the defense did its part by eliminating any semblance of and offense from Boston College.
In the second half the Eagles manged to score the game’s only touchdown, a 66-yard pass from Troy Flutie to Thadd Smith. At that point it appeared that Boston College had gained the momentum necessary to come from behind and steal a victory, but once again it was the Duke defense that stepped up and sealed the deal.
Duke gave up more than 300 yards, most of it coming on the ground but played the bulk of the minutes and held Boston College on a critical 4th down attempt at the end of the game.
For the Blue Devils it was another struggle offensively as it managed only 228 yards of offense and rushed for less than a yard per carry.
Despite the Eagles’ vaunted defense Duke opted to run the ball up the middle time after time to no avail. The brief glimpses of offensive success came when quarterback Thomas Sirk directed a few drives through the air, but all ended in field goals.
Sirk finished the game 18 of 36 for 195 yards and through a perfect dime that what would have been a touchdown pass had it not gone through T.J. Rahming’s arms.
Duke had a huge opportunity to put the game away earlier in the second half when Boston College muffed a punt and Duke recovered the ball in the redzone. Despite making it all the way down to the goal line and having a 1st and goal, the Blue Devils failed to capitalize running the ball up the gut four consecutive times before turning the ball back over to Boston College on downs.
Still a win is a win and the Blue Devils are in no position right now to worry about style points. The victory put them a game above rival North Carolina in the ACC Coastal Division. Duke takes to the road for a two-game road trip first going to take on Army in its last non-conference game of the year.
They then head up to Blacksburg to take on an ailing Virginia Tech team that has dropped two in a row. If the Blue Devils get victories in both of those games they will have secured bowl eligibility for the fourth straight year.