Anthony Boone came back from his three and a half game absence to put on a virtual passing clinic and help Duke sail past Navy 35 to 7.
The bye week clearly did wonders for the Blue Devils (4-2, o-2 ACC) who played their best game of the year by far against an FBS level opponent.
It was a surprise start for Boone that provided the biggest shock of the day and perhaps the most pleasant surprise from a statistical standpoint. Boone didn’t look like he had missed four weeks with a broken collar bone completing 31 of 38 passes for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns as he helped lead the Duke offense.
The Duke defense, despite giving up 246 yards in the first half, played reasonably well in the first half though they did struggle to get stops on third down. However, after the half they amped up the pressure on Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds and slowed the Midshipmen offense enough to allow the Blue Devil offense to take care of business.
It was night and day for the Blue Devils who once again used their improved second half defensive performance to spark the offense, which hit on all cylinders in every aspect.
Duke got another solid game out of receiver Jamison Crowder who caught 19 passes for 88 yards. Issac Blakeney (5 catches, 57 yards and two touchdowns) and Max McCaffrey (3 catches, 29 yards and a score) were the top targets for Boone. However, it wasn’t just the passing game that got the job done for Duke.
The Blue Devils combination of running backs led by Jela Duncan (45 yards on9 carries and a touchdown), Josh Snead (35 yards on 7 carries), Shaquille Powell (27 yards on 3 carries and a touchdown), as well as Juwan Thompson (30 yards on 6 carries) helped Duke control the game and keep the Navy offense off the field and out of rhythm.
The win is the first crucial step for the Blue Devils who are vying to get to back to back bowl game for the first time in school history. Duke is, however, going to have to get it done in conference play and on the road as they only have two home games remaining.
Duke will head to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the next two weeks starting with a trip to Charlottesville next week and Blacksburg the following week. If the Blue Devils can split those two games they will be in excellent position to get one more win if not more and make it back to bowl eligibility.