The 2013 season will never be forgotten by Duke Football fans. Those who have spent countless Saturdays in the bleachers at Wallace Wade Stadium just hoping that maybe one day the team could return to the days of competitive football finally had something to be proud of.
The Blue Devils were picked to finish last in the Coastal Division, which by this point just seemed like tradition. But Duke would surprise everyone when they finished the regular season 10-2, winning the Coastal division. On their way to the conference championship game the Blue Devils defeated traditional football schools Virginia Tech and Miami, both of whom were ranked at the time, as well as topping the more celebrated teams on Tobacco Road. Those who had been paying close attention to the program could see the great strides the program had made since David Cutcliffe became head coach, but no one could have predicted how amazing the 2013 season would be.
Duke became the first team in the Coastal Division not named Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech to earn a trip to the ACC Championship Game since expansion created two divisions in 2005. The Blue Devils challenged the soon-to-be National Champion Seminoles as much as any team had to that point before getting blown out in the second half. Duke was then invited to play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve, where they lost a thriller to 2012 Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M.
Before we turn the page on the 2013 season and shift our focus to the next chapter of Duke Football, let’s look back at some of our favorite individual moments and achievements from last season.
Anthony Boone returns from injury vs. Navy
Quarterback Anthony Boone suffered a broken collarbone in the second game of the season against Memphis. Duke had lost 2 of 3 in his absence and were sitting at 3-2 when Navy came to town. Early indications were that Boone had hoped to make his return at some point in the game, but when Brandon Connette injured his ankle in pregame warmups there was no other option. Boone was starting. Anthony was as good as ever, throwing for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns in a blowout victory over the Midshipmen. He completed 16 of his first 19 passes and finished a superb 31-38 on the day.
The Comeback at Virginia
Duke couldn’t do anything right in the first half against Virginia. The Blue Devils fell behind 22-0 before a last minute touchdown pass from Boone to Crowder made it 22-7 at the break. The second half would be a little different. The Blue Devils defense would shut out Virginia, Ross Martin would nail three field goals, and Braxton Deaver would catch a touchdown pass from each quarterback. Duke would win going away 35-22. This was not the last time we would see the Blue Devils have to dig deep to pull out a victory.
DeVon Edwards vs. NC State
Duke started off strong, scoring a touchdown on their first possession of the game and shutting out the Wolfpack in the first half, but the offense was struggling to move the ball and eventually the defense began to bend. The Wolfpack took the lead late in the third quarter before freshman DeVon Edwards would have his historic performance. Edwards returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for the touchdown. The Wolfpack would respond with an 80-yard touchdown pass before Brandon Connette gave Duke the lead with a touchdown run. On the following NC State possession, Edwards tipped and intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards for the touchdown. On the very next offensive play for NC State, Edwards intercepted the ball again, taking it 45 yards for the score and sealing the Blue Devil victory. Edwards became the first football player in 10 years to score three non-offensive touchdowns in a game and joined former Blue Devil Leon Wright as the only player in college football history to have pick sixes on back-to-back plays.
Duke runs over Miami
The Blue Devils had won an ugly game against Virginia Tech to top their first ranked opponent since 1994, but could Duke really match the strength and speed of Miami? If Duke were to pull the upset, surely they would have to find some other way than by trying to match Miami’s athleticism. Wrong. The stable of Blue Devil running backs ran all over the Hurricanes. Duke churned out 358 rushing yards in the game at an average of 6.9 yards per carry. Brandon Connette ran for four touchdowns. Josh Snead had 138 yards on just nine carries. Jela Duncan added 98 yards and Shaquille Powell had 59 yards and the game sealing 33-yard touchdown run on 4th and 1 with just under seven minutes remaining. Duke won the game 48-30 and would crack the Top 25 rankings for the first time in 19 years.
Duke retains the Victory Bell
There was a lot on the line when Duke traveled to Chapel Hill for the final game of the 2013 season against their hated rivals. A win and the Blue Devils would claim the Coastal Division and take on Florida State for the ACC Title. Not to mention the Victory Bell. Just like last season there was no lack of drama in the game. Duke struck first with a Jamison Crowder touchdown catch and added a DeVon Edwards kickoff return for a touchdown to grab a halftime lead. A Ross Martin field goal put Duke up 27-25 with 2:22 left and a DeVon Edwards interception would seal the victory and give Duke back-to-back wins over UNC for the first time since 1989. The Blue Devils finished the regular season on an 8 game winning streak.
What are some of your favorite moments and memories from the historic 2013 season?