8:07 PM ET, September 15, 2007
Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
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."
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.
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-13||7-15|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||1-5|
|TD||06:47||Jomar Wright 4 Yd Pass From Thaddeus Lewis (Joe Surgan Kick)||7||0|
|TD||03:45||Brandon Roberson 5 Yd Run (Amado Villarreal Kick)||7||7|
|TD||13:48||Brandon King 7 Yd Pass From Thaddeus Lewis (Joe Surgan Kick)||14||7|
|TD||06:16||Ronnie Drummer 56 Yd Pass From Thaddeus Lewis (Pat Failed)||20||7|
|TD||14:58||C.J. BachÃ©r 1 Yd Run (Amado Villarreal Kick)||20||14|