Duke loses leading rusher Jela Duncan to season-ending injury

Sam Cooper
Duke running back Jela Duncan (25) scored twice vs. Georgia Tech on Saturday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Duke running back Jela Duncan (25) scored twice vs. Georgia Tech on Saturday. (AP)

The Duke football program is becoming way too familiar with Achilles injuries.

The Blue Devils announced Sunday that senior running back Jela Duncan, the team’s leading rusher, will miss the rest of the season after rupturing his left Achilles tendon in Saturday’s loss at Georgia Tech.

Duncan was injured when celebrating Shaun Wilson’s touchdown run in the third quarter. That score cut the Yellow Jackets’ lead to 31-28 in an eventual 38-35 loss. Duncan rushed for 52 yards and two scores on 10 carries in the loss.

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The injury will end Duncan’s collegiate career.

“Certainly we are all heartbroken for Jela and his family,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said in a media release. “His passion, toughness and level of commitment have been exemplary, and everyone in our program has benefited from his presence.”

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Duncan finishes his career with 2,025 career rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. He also caught 48 passes for 334 yards and one touchdown during his time with the Blue Devils. He finishes his career sixth in program history in rushing yards and is one of six players in Duke history to pass the 2,000-yard mark.

“As one of six players to rush for 2,000 yards in the history of Duke University, Jela’s play on the field speaks for itself, but what he has meant to our program off the field is also extremely relevant. He’s a special young man who, with our support, I know will attack this next challenge,” Cutcliffe said.

Duncan had 450 yards and a career-high six touchdowns through seven games this season. He is the third senior captain to go down with a season-ending injury, joining quarterback Thomas Sirk (Achilles) and defensive back DeVon Edwards (knee).

Duke dropped to 3-5 (0-4 ACC) with the loss to the Yellow Jackets. Next on the schedule is a home game against No. 23 Virginia Tech on Saturday. With Duncan out, Wilson, a junior, should assume the role of top running back. Wilson has 373 yards and two touchdowns on 90 carries this season.

For more Duke news, visit DevilsIllustrated.com.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!