Duke blows huge lead in Chick-Fil-A Bowl

The Duke football team had the ball six times in the first half and scored all six times. The Blue Devils scored five straight touchdowns before a Ross Martin field goal sent them into the lockerroom at halftime with a 38-17 lead over Texas A&M in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.The football team actually out-scored the men’s basketball team from earlier in the day in the first half, 38-35.

Chick-fil-A-Bowl-logo-lgHowever, the Duke defense fell apart and Johnny Manziel picked them apart to lead the Aggies to the 52-48 comeback victory less than twenty minutes before the New Year.

The Duke offense picked apart the Texas A&M defense for the entire first half. They scored at will. Anthony Boone threw an 11 yard touchdown pass to Josh Snead for the early 7-0 lead. With short yardage to go on their next possession, in came Brandon Connette for the three yard rushing TD.

Moving on to the second quarter, Boone rushed for an 11 yard touchdown. Less than three minutes later, Boone hooked up with Jamison Crowder, the ACC single season record holder for reception yards, for the 59 yard TD. With 2:31 to go in the half, Snead rushed into the end zone from 25 yards out.

Duke also blocked a punt and worked a perfect onside kick in the first half.

Then came the second half.

The Aggies scored in their first two possessions in the third quarter to cut the lead to 38-31. Martin kicked a field goal to give the Blue Devils a ten point advantage (after Duke blew a first-and-goal opportunity). However, the Aggies scored to start the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to three points.

David Reeves may have had the catch of the day for Duke when he tiptoed the sideline to score his first touchdown of the season on just his third catch of the season with 6:46 to go. It was a 75 yard drive that ate up a little over six minutes. But Manziel got the Aggies into the end zone a minute and two seconds later.

Then things completely fell apart. Boone was picked off with 3:33 to go and Texas A&M took their first lead of the game on the interception return. But Duke got the ball back and marched down the field. However, Boone was picked again with 1:19 to go and the game was over in heartbreaking fashion.

When Duke needed a big play, on offense and on defense, they just could not come through.

 

Boone finished the game with 427 yards passing (29-of-45) and three TDs. He also rushed for 27 yards on five carries. Snead rushed for 104 yards, while Juwan Thompson rushed for 92 yards on 11 carries. Crowder was once again Boone‘s favorite receiver, hauling in 12 catches for 163 yards. Braxton Deaver also made some huge third down catches (six catches for 116 yards).

“Johnny Football”, who received all of the attention before, during, and after the game, finished with 382 yards passing (30-of-38) and four touchdowns in what the media deemed his final collegiate game. One of those touchdown passes came as he leaped over a Duke defender trying to sack him. He also rushed for a 73 yards on 11 carries (and another TD). His favorite receiver was Travis Labhart, who had three touchdown receptions (seven catches and 76 yards). Derel Walker also caught a TD (six catches for 113 yards).

 

It was a tough, heartbreaking loss in a season that was so magical for Duke. Hopefully, there is more good to come in the future for the Duke football program.

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