Playing in front of a vociferous home crowd at Wallace Wade Stadium, the Blue Devils held the Tigers scoreless in the second half for a first victory against a top-10 opponent since last defeating then No. 7 Clemson in 1989, according to The Athletic. Duke was previously 0-28 against top-10 opponents.
The Blue Devils found themselves 7-6 down at halftime but, led by quarterback Riley Leonard, took the initiative thereafter.
In the third quarter, and still trailing 7-6, Leonard broke out for an incredible 44-yard touchdown run. The play of the night put the Blue Devils in the driving seat and they didn’t look back.
Overall, Leonard passed for 175 yards and a touchdown, while notching 98 rushing yards during the game.
The Blue Devils continued to pile onto the score following Leonard’s impressive solo play, while also shutting out the Tigers in the second half to seal the huge Week 1 upset, causing Duke fans to rush onto the field.
When the pressure was on throughout the game, Clemson was guilty of making costly errors, fumbling the ball on two occasions when just yards away from the end zone. These moments encapsulated the sloppy performance from the Tigers.
“That’s the weirdest game I’ve ever been a part of,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, per ESPN. “I’ve been beat. I’ve had my butt kicked. But that’s the strangest game I’ve ever been a part of.
“It’s almost indescribable what I just saw,” he added. “It’s incredibly frustrating when you had so much opportunity … It’s routine stuff. The basics. The fundamentals. Basic, basic stuff.”
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