DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Mataeo Durant ran for three first-half touchdowns and quarterback Gunnar Holmberg finished with a pair of scoring runs as Duke beat North Carolina A&T 45-17 on Friday night
The Blue Devils (1-1) broke a tie in the waning seconds of the first half on the way to only their fourth victory in their last 19 games stretching back to October 2019.
“The second half I thought we played with a better intensity level,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said.
Durant, who has six touchdowns this season, didn’t have nearly the success as the week earlier when he racked up a school-record 255 rushing yards in a loss at Charlotte. Instead, he posted 41 yards on 15 carries.
This marks the Aggies’ first season as members of the Big South Conference after leaving the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
“Slow beginnings, but I’m expecting a strong finish,” Washington said.
Cutcliffe said he prepared his team throughout the week to use an onside kick and it proved to be a good move.
“I’ve learned over the years that if you don’t plan to do it, you won’t do it,” the veteran coach said.
There was another gamble at the end of the first half. The Blue Devils, who were out of timeouts, could have settled for a field goal or a quick pass play when the ball was snapped with 6 seconds left. Instead, it was a hand-off to Durant, who barely made it into the end zone.
“Everything in my heart tells me we have to be an aggressive program,” Cutcliffe said. “Let’s go with Mataeo. I thought, ‘We’ll run Mataeo and he’ll score.’ … We were going to play aggressive. We weren’t going to play safe.”