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November 5, 2005It was another ugly final score for Duke at Clemson Saturday, as the Devils dropped their ninth game of the year with a 49-20 defeat to the Tigers.
There were some positive signs for the Blue Devils though, especially on offense, as freshman quarterback Zack Asack put together easily his best performance of the season.
Asack completed 26 of 43 passes for 328 yards and a touchdown on the afternoon, as Duke opened up their offense on first and second downs for the first time this season.
The main beneficiaries to Asack's good day were big targets Andy Roland and Ben Patrick as well as true freshman Eron Riley.
The game started like a bad rerun of a movie, as Clemson scored on each of its first two possessions to go up 14-0 at the end of the opening quarter.
Duke's first drive of the second quarter gave Duke fans the first glimpse of what proved to be reasonably effective offense.
Asack guided the team down the field, using two completions to Roland and a 32 yard pass to Riley. Joe Surgan's 34-yard field goal gave Duke its first points of the game.
Riley used that long reception as a springboard to a fantastic day. He caught four passes on the day for 130 yards and a touchdown, continuing his emergence as a bona fide ACC receiver.
Duke would have been in much better shape in the game were it not for some costly penalties and the defense's inability to stop Clemson on third down early in the game.
Trailing 21-3 with under a minute remaining in the first half, Surgan lined up for a field goal that would have brought the Devils within two scores heading into the locker room.
The 38 yard kick was blocked by Clemson's Tramaine Billie and recovered all the way out at the Duke 48 yard line. Duke's problems were compounded when Surgan was penalized 15 yards for tossing a Clemson helmet that had popped off during the play.
The Tigers used the quick momentum swing to tack on another score just before the half on an 11 yard pass from Will Proctor to Chansi Stuckey.
Trailing 28-3 starting the second half, Duke's offense produced its best 30 minutes of the season.
Using Roland and Patrick to perfection, Asack marshalled a lengthy drive down the field, completing five passes to the two tight ends in route to the endzone. Justin Boyle's one yard plunge over the top brought the Devils within 28-10.
The biggest play of the day for Duke came on their final possession of the third period. Showing a quick strike capability that has been absent all season, Asack hit Riley on a beautiful deep ball for a 66 yard scoring strike.
Duke's final points of the game came late in the fourth quarter as Surgan boomed a 50 yard field goal that could have easily been successful from 60 yards out.
Clemson's balanced offensive attack proved too much in the end for Duke to handle. The Tigers rushed and passed for more than 200 yards.
Reggie Merriweather went over 100 yards for Clemson while Proctor passed for two touchdowns and avoided any costly turnovers.
On the ground for Duke, only Asack ran the ball 10 times. Boyle and Requan Boyette combined for 50 yards on 14 carries.
Duke gets a bye week before closing the season on November 19th at arch rival North Carolina.
Devils Illustrated will have more on Saturday's contest.