DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke overcame any emotional letdown from its season-opening upset of Clemson and the challenge of getting only a few days to prepare for its next game.
Jordan Waters ran for a career-high 112 yards to go with two scores, helping the 21st-ranked Blue Devils beat Lafayette 42-7 on Saturday night.
“When you come off of a short week like that and you’ve got to prepare, you’ve just got to go out there and find a way to get a result,” second-year coach Mike Elko said.
Duke did that, showing a balanced offense with 261 yards rushing and 254 through the air for 515 total against a Championship Subdivision foe.
Waters scored on a 5-yard run early in the second period and added a 16-yard run shortly before halftime that surpassed his previous career-best rushing total. That staked the Blue Devils (2-0) to a 21-7 halftime lead, then he cracked the 100-yard mark on his first touch of the third quarter amid a heavy downpour that followed the teams out of the break.
Duke was playing five days after the 28-7 win against the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference favorite and then-No. 9 Tigers. That game ended with fans charging to midfield to celebrate the program’s first win against a top-10 opponent in 34 years, then had the Blue Devils entering the AP Top 25 the next afternoon for the first time in five years.
The ground game led the way behind Waters and Jaquez Moore, who ran for 72 yards with a 39-yard score early in the third quarter.
“We had to focus mentally more than physically,” Waters said, adding: “It was different, but we managed it.”
Dean DeNobile threw for a 12-yard touchdown to Chris Carasia for the Leopards (1-1). That came after Lafayette marched 75 yards on 13 plays, which included Duke jumping offsides on a field-goal attempt to extend that drive.
“I think our effort was there,” Lafayette coach John Troxell said. “I think the kids tried to play physical. We had a lot of freshmen out there and they came and competed really hard. I’m proud of our effort. Obviously the result isn’t what you want.”
Lafayette: Troxell had pointed to the team’s inexperience in saying the goal was just to prepare well enough “so the stage isn’t too big” by facing an ACC team on the road. Picked fourth in the Patriot League, the Leopards hung in this game until falling behind by two scores shortly before halftime, then seeing that margin balloon in the third. Lafayette finished with 213 total yards and had six penalties for 74 yards.
Duke: The Blue Devils have emerged from an emotional and challenging stretch. They’re 2-0 for the second time in as many seasons under Elko, who has won 11 of his 15 games as the Blue Devils coach.
Duke is in the AP Top 25 for the time since spending a week at No. 22 in September 2018. The Blue Devils likely won’t move much — if at all — with the Clemson win already reflected in their standing.
Riley Leonard also threw for a score to Jalon Calhoun on the game’s opening drive for Duke and completed all 12 of his passes for 136 yards before giving way to backup Henry Belin IV, who completed a 49-yard deep ball on his first snap and ended the drive with his first career touchdown on a 1-yard keeper for a 35-7 lead late in the third.
Belin completed all eight of his passes, and Duke’s lone incompletion was a spike — credited as a team play rather than an individual stat — to stop the clock shortly before halftime. So the Blue Devils finished 20 for 21 in passing for the game, and that 95.2% completion percentage was a school record for a game with a minimum of 15 attempts.
Lafayette: The Leopards return home to host Columbia on Saturday.
Duke: The Blue Devils host Northwestern on Saturday in search of a second straight 3-0 start.