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Duke controls ACC destiny after win over Miami

The SportsXchange

DURHAM, N.C. -- Senior Day turned out to be a memorable send-off for the Duke Blue Devils for a variety of reasons.

Not the least of which was the way the Blue Devils beat down the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes 48-30 on Saturday at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Backup quarterback Brandon Connette ran for four touchdowns as the Blue Devils kept control of their destiny in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division.

"It's a great day on offense," senior offensive guard Dave Harding said. "It was a great way to send us off. We have our sights set on Charlotte."

With their sixth consecutive victory, the Blue Devils (8-2, 4-2) can advance to the ACC championship game Dec. 7 in Charlotte against Florida State if they win road games against Wake Forest and North Carolina the next two weeks.

It was the first time Miami lost to Duke since joining the ACC. Blue Devils fans flooded the field to celebrate.

"We came into the game with the same amount of confidence we've had all year," Connette said. "We just keep on grinding."

Connette also passed for a touchdown. Duke rushed for 357 yards in sending Miami (7-3, 3-3) to its third consecutive loss.

That's the most rushing yards for any David Cutcliffe-coached team.

"One thing we wanted to do was be physical and run the football," said running back Josh Snead, who gained 138 yards on nine carries. "You call it and we'll haul it."

Connette, a redshirt junior, holds the Duke record for rushing touchdowns with 29. His final score from 4 yards out boosted Duke's lead to 38-30 with 11:37 to play.

Running back Shaquille Powell's 33-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 sealed it with 6:50 to play.

"We noticed that they really couldn't handle our tempo," Snead said.

Connette and starting quarterback Anthony Boone alternated throughout the game. Boone completed 11 of 15 passes for 104 yards.

"We were going to switch. It works," Connette said. "It puts extra stress on the defense."

Miami coach Al Golden noticed.

"I don't think there was much difference when each was in the game," he said. "They're both running the ball well. Obviously, they used a lot of running backs and ran the ball well. We didn't tackle well enough and they wore us down."

The Hurricanes have surrendered more than 40 points in three consecutive games.

"We're giving up too many points," Golden said. "That's changing the way we play the game on offense."

Miami running back Dallas Crawford gained 115 rushing yards on 19 carries. Quarterback Stephen Morris threw for 379 yards, completing 30 of 49 passes with one interception.

The Blue Devils took the second-half kickoff and drove 75 yards on 10 plays, with Connette running in from 1 yard out.

It took Miami three plays to strike back, scoring on Herb Waters' 50-yard breakaway with a pass from Morris.

The Hurricanes were back on top at 30-28 when their next drive resulted in kicker Matt Goudis' 31-yard field goal.

It didn't last long because Duke kicker Ross Martin hit a 48-yard field goal with the ball bouncing through off the left upright with 2:47 left in the third quarter.

Duke took the lead for the first time with 2:01 left in the first half on Connette's 3-yard run.

That came after Goudis' 32-yard field goal with 4:42 left in the first half pushed the Hurricanes to a 20-14 lead.

Trailing 17-7, Duke was in danger of falling into a deeper hole until Deondre Singleton's interception of a deflected Morris pass gave the Blue Devils a spark. That led to Powell's 22-yard touchdown catch from Connette.

"You could say the momentum changed there," Golden said. "It was unfortunate because we had a chance for a completion and they got the ball with some good field position."

Earlier, Miami drove 61 yards on the game's first possession to grab a 3-0 lead on Goudis' 32-yard field goal. Stacy Coley's punt return went for 79 yards, giving the Hurricanes a 10-0 lead less than 51/2 minutes into the game.

The Blue Devils responded right away, taking slightly more than three minutes before Connette completed a drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.

Coley left with a head injury in the first half and didn't return.

NOTES: Duke lost 52-45 to Miami a year ago. ... QB Anthony Boone improved to 8-0 as Duke's starting quarterback. ... The Blue Devils snatched a second victory against a nationally ranked team for the first time in the same season since 1971. They also defeated then-ranked Virginia Tech last month. ... Miami was attempting to spoil Duke's home finale for the second year in a row. ... Duke has allowed a punt return for a touchdown the past two games. ... Miami has forced 21 turnovers this season, but forced none against Duke. ... Miami plays its home finale next week against Virginia. ... Duke, which doesn't leave its home state in November, plays its last two games on the road, beginning next week at Wake Forest.
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