Boone answered those questions by throwing for three touchdowns in his first game in more than a month as the Blue Devils trounced Navy 35-7 on Saturday afternoon at Wallace Wade Stadium. Boone, a redshirt junior, completed 31 of 38 passes for career-best 295 yards. The Blue Devils brightened an overcast day by winning their second game in a row. "The beauty of Anthony is that he had no idea that he was going to start," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. "Anthony just slipped in like he hadn't missed a beat." It wasn't until Brandon Connette, who had been starting during Boone's absence, told the coaching staff that his injured ankle was hurting about 10 minutes before the game that the Blue Devils (4-2) turned to Boone. Connette suffered the injury two days earlier in practice. Boone had been out since suffering a broken collarbone Sept. 7 at Memphis. "Anthony has mastered the offense and has a great command of everything that's going on back there," guard Dave Harding said. "He did a great job today coming in off the injury and just picked up really where he left off." Boone's comeback overshadowed an unusually careless performance by Navy, which committed three turnovers. "Usually there is a bright spot or two that you can talk about after the game," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said, "but not today." Niumatalolo said the quarterback change for Duke shouldn't have led to so many breakdowns in the Navy defensive backfield. The Blue Devils converted 10 of 16 third-down plays and were 2-for-4 on fourth downs. "Everybody wants to get excited and happy," Cutcliffe said. "I'm happy, too, but I'm also realistic enough to know we better go back to work." Duke took a 14-7 halftime lead when Boone lofted a 3-yard pass to Max McCaffrey in the corner of the end zone. Boone completed 6 of 7 passes on the first possession, though the drive ended on a failed fourth-and-1 at the Navy 20-yard line when Boone didn't see an open receiver. Cutcliffe said that mishap was related to rustiness, but it wasn't prolonged. "He had to get his head back in the game," Cutcliffe said. Navy appeared to strike first, but Nick Sloan's 24-yard field goal was wiped out by an illegal procedure penalty and then he missed from 29 yards early in the second quarter. Duke took advantage right away, with Boone hitting Issac Blakeney for a 27-yard touchdown play to break into the score. The Midshipmen (3-2) didn't waste their next chance, tying the score on Darius Staten's 7-yard touchdown run. In the third quarter, Boone and Blakeney connected on an 18-yard scoring play. Jela Duncan ran for a 5-yard touchdown and Shaquille Powell, with his fourth carry in as many plays, scored from 7 yards out to wrap up Duke's scoring. Duncan led the Blue Devils with 45 yards on nine carries. Duke completed the nonconference portion of its schedule with a 4-0 record, also defeating North Carolina Central, Memphis and Troy. The Midshipmen's three giveaways matched their total from their first four games. Niumatalolo said it was "a tough loss for our program." "We're a tough team and we have some tough kids," he said. "That wasn't our best effort, but it wasn't just us. Duke played well." Navy, aiming to improve to 4-1 for the first time since 2006, gained 230 rushing yards. Chris Swain posted 61 yards on 13 carries. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds completed 6 of 13 passes, also throwing his first interception of the season when Jeremy Cash made a pickoff late in the third quarter. Reynolds also had a fumble at the Duke 10-yard line. Duke redshirt junior Josh Snead rushed for 35 yards, leaving him three shy of reaching 1,000 for his career. It marked the second game that Navy played since the partial government shutdown, with approval from the defense department to make the trip to Durham as long as non-appropriated funds were used. NOTES: LB Deion Williams started for Duke in place of LB Kelby Brown, who has been limited by an ankle injury. ... Duke S Deondre Singleton was suspended for the game because he missed two academic obligations last week, leaving campus prematurely without permission prior to the team's open weekend. ... The Blue Devils were also without WR Johnell Barnes, who suffered a broken hand in an off-campus incident. Barnes had averaged 20.4 yards per return on 10 kickoffs across the first five games. ... Navy's 20 victories against Bowl Championship Series conference schools since 2003 are the most in the country by a non-BCS team. Four of those victories have come against Duke. ... Navy plays next week at Toledo in a game that has been moved to a noon kickoff (seven hours earlier than its original slot). ... Duke starts a string of six consecutive ACC games by playing next week at Virginia.
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