Bringing The World Home To You

© 2023 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton 94.1 Lumberton 99.9 Southern Pines
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Photos: Blue Devils rush the field as Duke football beats Clemson for the first time since 2004

Duke quarterback Riley Leonard looks to pass against Clemson on Monday, Sept. 4, 2023, at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C.
Mitchell Northam
Duke quarterback Riley Leonard looks to pass against Clemson on Monday, Sept. 4, 2023, at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C.

It was pure pandemonium at Wallace Wade Stadium on the campus of Duke University on Monday night as students and fans of the Blue Devils hopped over walls and crawled out of the bleachers to raucously rush toward the middle of Brooks Field.

Many felt they had a good reason to do so. Because for the first time since 2004, Duke beat Clemson in football.

Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard piled up 273 yards of total offense and rushed for a wild 44-yard touchdown as Duke won 28-7 over the visiting ninth-ranked Tigers in Durham.

Jordan Waters and Jaquez Moore also rushed for touchdowns for Duke, but it was really the Blue Devils’ defense that stood out. Duke forced the Tigers into three turnovers, and Ja'Mion Franklin and Wesley Williams, respectively, each blocked a Clemson field goal attempt. The Blue Devils also stopped Clemson three times when the Tigers were inside the 10-yard line.

Duke jumped out to a 6-0 lead before Clemson scored what proved to be its only touchdown of the game, when Cade Klubnik connected with Will Shipley on a two-yard score that was set up by a mishandled punt by the Blue Devils.

Leonard responded in the third quarter though. On a third-and-3, he broke three tackles as he scrambled out of the pocket and sprinted down the sideline for the go-ahead touchdown.

It isn’t hyperbole to call this result a historic upset and one of the most memorable in the history of Duke football. Consider this: Duke was previously 0-13 in season-openers against ranked opponents, and it hadn’t beaten a team ranked inside the top 10 of the Associated Press Top 25 Poll since 1989, losing 28 straight games of that sort. Steve Spurrier was the head coach back then, but one thing is similar: that victory also came against Clemson.

Spurrier was in attendance Monday night to witness an unlikely triumph for Duke. However, the win may be proof that Duke’s success last season under coach Mike Elko wasn’t a fluke. The Blue Devils went 9-4 in 2022 — Elko’s first year at the helm — which was just the seventh time in program history that Duke won nine games or more in a single season.

“It’s important on the outside, because I think it makes people believe a little bit more what we’ve been saying since the day I got here,” Elko said after the victory. “What we’ve been saying internally is this is what Duke football is capable of. We’ve never ever wavered.”

Duke will aim to keep this success rolling on Saturday, when it hosts Lafayette for a 6 p.m. kickoff.

Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.
More Stories