Duke finished off this season with a bang to win the Walk-On Independence Bowl, defeating the Temple Owls by a smashing score of 56-27. Not much was expected as Duke had lost their two final games of the season in lopsided fashion and had been 2-4 later in the season after a 5-1 start. The Blue Devils came in a 3.5-point underdog, especially having suffered multiple hits to the defensive corps throughout the season, including star CB Mark Gilbert, S Deondre Singleton, and Edgar Cerenord, and would also play without arguably their most important defensive players, Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys. However, the defense was the one that stepped up in the second half to hold Temple scoreless while the offense racked up 36 points to fuel the win.
Quarterback Daniel Jones played in what is likely to have been his final game in a Duke uniform, ending his season as prolifically as his team with 429 passing yard, 121 rushing yards, and 6 overall touchdowns (5 passing, 1 rushing). Senior wide receiver TJ Rahming also had an impressive performance in his last game, making 12 receptions for 240 yards, his season high. Temple couldn’t seem to defend Duke’s passing game, and as their offense was stopped by Duke’s defensive game, the second half was a downright blowout.
The defense stepped up incredibly well today despite a season marred by injuries. They stopped the owls on fourth down 3 times (one a botched snap on a punt), as well as under 50% on 3rd down (6-14). Duke’s offense was just a bit excited about throwing the ball on three separate occasions and was intercepted (twice for Jones, once for backup Quentin Harris who entered the game intermittently). Temple actually led 27-20 at the half, and had even led 20-7 early, but came to a grinding halt immediately as Duke started to roll on both sides of the field and the blowout began.
Offensively, multiple Independence Bowl records were set: Daniel Jones set two with both the most passing yards and passing touchdowns, while the entire team combined to set the scoring record.
Daniel Jones now has a decision to make regarding next season. Many have said- and personally, I agree- that leaving Duke for the 2018 NFL Draft would probably be the best option for Jones. As much as we love having him here at Duke, he’s graduated with a degree in economics and is one of the highest ranked quarterbacks this year- even a possible first round pick, something that hasn’t happened to a Duke quarterback in years (and only once!). With multiple NFL teams looking for a quarterback pretty much imminently, and the 2019 class looking stacked with guys like Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, he could easily go a lot higher if he were to leave this year. Also, that’s a full year of NFL salary. We’ve been so lucky to have him and he’s worked his butt off to go from barely being looked at as a recruit to a huge prospect in the NFL and he showed it today. Look to Krazies’ Korner to get information on his decision and next year’s outlook.
Bleed blue. Congratulations to the Duke football team of 2018!