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Blue Devils build lead, hold on to stop 22-game slide

EVANSTON, Ill. (ESPN.com news services) -- Vincent Rey didn't even need to see the
ball hit the ground to know the nation's longest losing streak had
come to an end.

Rey and Ayanga Okpokowuruk rushed Northwestern's C.J. Bacher
into an incomplete pass on the final play and Duke snapped its
22-game skid with a 20-14 win Saturday night.

"I came to the quarterback and got knocked to the ground as he
threw," said Rey, who had eight tackles. "I got up and looked,
but I didn't see anything. All I did was see out of the corner of
my eye all our guys jumping up and down."

Thaddeus Lewis threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns for the
Blue Devils, whose last win came on Sept. 17, 2005 against Virginia
Military Institute. Duke (1-2) hadn't defeated a major college team
since Nov. 13, 2004, against Clemson, a span of 27 games.


Florida International, which has lost 15 straight games, takes the dubious honor of the nation's longest losing streak. With the win, Duke also recorded its first road victory since Nov. 22, 2003 when it defeated North Carolina, 30-22.

Lewis entered the game 0-13 as a starter.

"To see the clock go to 0:00 and you are the winner is a great
feeling," he said. "I'm going to enjoy the moment, but I want
there to be many more so I'm going to get ready and focused on
Navy."

Jomar Wright, Ronnie Drummer and Brandon King caught touchdown
passes for the Blue Devils, who led 20-7 after three quarters and
never trailed.

Bacher opened the fourth quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run to
pull Northwestern (2-1) within 20-14. He later ran 35 yards to give
the Wildcats a first-and-goal from the 7 with 38 seconds to go. But
Duke put heavy pressure on Bacher, forcing him to throw four
consecutive incompletions in the end zone to prevent another
Northwestern comeback.

The Wildcats came back from a 24-10 halftime deficit on Sept. 8
to beat Nevada 36-31.

"We did it last week, so it shouldn't have been anything this
week," said Ross Lane, who caught nine passes for 128 yards. "We
felt like we could go out there [after halftime] and win just as
easily."

Not this time. When Bacher's final pass missed Jones'
outstretched arms, Duke players and coaches swarmed the field and
embraced on top of Northwestern's purple and white N at the 50-yard
line.

"I hope this will be a springboard for us and we will
understand what it feels like to win and the reward that goes along
with hard work," Duke coach Ted Roof said. "This is one football
game, just like when we lost it was one football game. But I hope
it puts a little extra bounce in our step."

The Blue Devils failed to score more than 14 points or gain more
than 229 yards of offense in either of their first two games -- a
45-14 loss to Connecticut and a 24-13 loss to Virginia -- but had
215 yards and 20 points in the first half.

Lewis, who entered the game with a 48.3 completion percentage,
was 14 of 15 for 186 yards and three scores in the first half, with
his lone incompletion coming on a heave to the end zone.

He finished 19 of 23, including a span of 15 straight
completions.

After the teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter, Duke
scored 13 consecutive points to close out the half. King's 7-yard
score early in the second quarter capped a 10-play, 70-yard drive
and gave Duke a 14-7 lead.

The Blue Devils then took over on their own 20 after Leon Wright
intercepted Bacher's pass in the end zone, and marched 80 yards on
seven plays to go up 20-7.

Drummer capped the drive when he hauled in Lewis' pass near the
35, turned toward the end zone and split Northwestern defenders for
a score. Joe Surgan missed the extra-point attempt.

Amado Villarreal's 34-yard field goal would have pulled
Northwestern within 20-10 with 1:40 left in the first half. But the
Wildcats accepted a Duke offsides and failed to convert on the
ensuing fourth-and-3 when Omar Conteh dropped a pass.

With Northwestern starting running back Tyrell Sutton sidelined
with an ankle injury, backup Brandon Roberson ran for 80 yards and
a score.

Bacher threw for a career-high 368 yards but had two
interceptions for the Wildcats, who were trying to start off 3-0
for the first time since 2001.

Northwestern outgained Duke 506-309, but had 13 penalties for
125 yards.

"We had so many self-inflicted wounds," Northwestern coach Pat
Fitzgerald said. "It doesn't matter how much you move the ball, it
squashes momentum and plays such a negative toward you as far as
your mind-set."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.