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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Duke savors knockout of Cadets, prepares for Big 12 challenge Saturday

Posted by on Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 5:16 PM

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WALLACE WADE STADIUM/DURHAM There's not much wrong with a football team that the kind of win Duke had Saturday at Army can't help solve.

The game was close throughout until the Blue Devils thoroughly dominated the conclusion, as Leon Wright (pictured) returned interceptions for touchdowns on two straight Army plays in the final two minutes to change the score from 21-13 to 35-13 en route to a 35-19 romp.

"I don't know if that has ever happened in the history of college football," Blue Devil coach David Cutcliffe, whose 1-1 team will face a much bigger challenge on Saturday at No. 22 Kansas (2-0), said during his weekly press conference at the Brooks Football Building.

Duke has never played Kansas in football, and last played a Big 12 team in 1989.

The win at Army broke Duke's six-game losing streak.

"It just made the win even more special, I guess," Wright, who was ACC defensive back of the week, said about the exclamation points on the end of Saturday's win. "We work on finishing so much. It was great to finish a great team such as Army. It made it so they couldn't go in and go for two and win the game in overtime."

Duke's other big contributor against Army was freshman quarterback Sean Renfree, who came off the bench for senior Thaddeus Lewis in his first college appearance and threw for two touchdown passes.

"It definitely helped me," Lewis, who has been fighting an ankle injury for six weeks, said of Renfree's outing. "When you're a competitor you want your teammates to excel. This is a team thing.

"That's what I wanted to see about Sean. People will know once I leave here the Blue Devils will have a great quarterback. We compete and make each other better."

Kansas has beaten Northern Colorado 49-3 and then UTEP on the road, 34-7.

Jayhawk quarterback Todd Reesing is the big weapon, completing 38 of 61 passes for 481 yards and three touchdowns in the two easy wins.

"We've got to switch gears," said Duke defensive end Ayanga Okpokowuruk, who along with Wright, offensive tackle Kyle Hill and center Bryan Morgan are the Blue Devils' game captains this week. "This is a good team we're about to play, a very good team. But our focus is on us and making sure we get better doing what we need to do every game. ... (Reesing) is a good quarterback. He likes to scramble a lot."

Cutcliffe said the trip to play the Jayhawks is going to be a very big test.

"Kansas is a really, really good football team," the coach said. "I enjoyed watching them in the summer. This week, it's not so much fun to watch them. They're well-coached in the offense, defense and the kicking game. I think they're one of the top 15 teams in the country.

Now, how do you beat a top 15 team? Take care of the ball, play great in the kicking game and try to find a way to make big plays.

"They're really stingy defensively. It's going to be a lot of fun. It's been a long time since Duke has been able to beat a ranked team on the road."

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