Leonard accounts for 3TDs to send Duke past Virginia Tech

Nov 11, 2022, 10:16 PM | Updated: Nov 12, 2022, 1:32 pm

Duke's Riley Leonard (13) is hit by Virginia Tech's Keonta Jenkins (7) as he throws during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

(13)

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Riley Leonard threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another as the Duke Blue Devils won their third straight game, topping Virginia Tech 24-7 on Saturday afternoon.

Leonard completed 19-of-31 passes for 262 yards and also carried the ball nine times for 48 yards. Jalon Calhoun was Leonard’s favorite target, as he hauled in five catches for 94 yards for the Blue Devils (7-3, 4-2 ACC).

“We had a great game plan,” Leonard said. “We had to win our matchups and that’s what it came down to. The offensive line gave me as much time as I needed in the pocket to deliver the ball, and our receivers were just out there making plays all day.”

Grant Wells led the Hokies (2-8, 1-6 ACC) with 177 passing yards and one touchdown.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Hokies’ coach Brent Pry said. “Didn’t play very well fundamentally, and certainly didn’t play complimentary ball. I think we’re fighting and clawing to hang in there defensively. We got to do more on the other side of the ball to have a chance. We got to play better and we got to coach better.”

After Duke opened with a three-and-out, Virginia Tech took the lead on its second offensive play of the game when Wells connected with Da’Wain Lofton on a 53-yard scoring strike. It was the second longest touchdown pass of the year for the Hokies.

Then – beginning with a 25-yard field goal from Todd Pelino – the Blue Devils scored 24-straight unanswered points, grabbing the lead and never letting go. The scoring run was highlighted by Jontavis Robertson hauling in a 6-yard pass from Leonard for the junior wideout’s first career touchdown.

“We responded to a little bit of a slow start and then took control of the game,” Duke coach Mike Elko said. “I thought, defensively, we played our best effort of the year, the way we controlled the line of scrimmage.”

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: The first season of Hokies’ football under Brent Pry has been historically abysmal. With its loss today, Virginia Tech has now lost seven consecutive games for the first time since 1951, when it played in the Southern Conference. And eight losses are the most the Hokies have had in a single season since 1992, when they played in the Big East. By record, it’s the worst season Virginia Tech has had since joining the ACC in 2004.

Duke: In its first season under Mike Elko, the Blue Devils have their most ACC wins since 2015. In this game, Duke leaned on its stout defense. The Hokies’ 13 first downs are the second-least the Duke defense has allowed this season. And for the sixth time this season, the Blue Devils held their opponent to under 105 rushing yards. Duke is now 6-0 when holding opponents under that rushing total.

ANOTHER MILESTONE

Duke’s victory was its first against Virginia Tech at home in Durham since 1981. The series – which Virginia Tech still leads 19-11 – goes back to 1937.

“We talked about that,” Elko said of Duke’s long home losing streak against the Hokies. “And we continue to talk about breaking through expectations. You want to do that. Each win, we savor. Winning is precious in this sport.”

Should Duke win out, it has a chance to get six ACC victories this season. The Blue Devils have only done that three times ever, most recently in 2013.

TURNOVER TURNAROUND

A season ago, Duke was last in the ACC and 108th nationally in turnover margin with a 0.6 differential. It’s one of several areas the Blue Devils have improved in under Elko. Entering Saturday’s game, Duke ranked third nationally in turnover margin with +1.56 mark, trailing only USC and Georgia Tech.

The turnover margin was even between Duke and Virginia Tech on Saturday, but the takeaway for the Blue Devils – an interception by Shaka Heyward – set up their longest drive of the day. It chewed 7:01 off the clock in the fourth quarter, helping Duke seal the win.

“That was a huge drive,” Leonard said. “The defense really complimented us all game.”

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: The Hokies visit Liberty for an in-state non-conference clash.

Duke: In their final true road game of the season, the Blue Devils visit Pitt next Saturday.

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball

https://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25 and https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Detroit Pistons guard Hamidou Diallo (6) reacts after being whistled for a foul during the first ha...
Associated Press

Mitchell, Mobley lead Cavaliers to 102-94 win over Pistons

DETROIT (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points, Evan Mobley added 20 and the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied late to beat the Detroit Pistons 102-94 on Sunday. Cleveland trailed for much of the game, but outscored the Pistons 29-16 in the fourth quarter. Darius Garland added 16 points for Cleveland, which has won five of six. […]
18 hours ago
Philadelphia 76ers forward Paul Reed (44) reaches for a rebound against the Orlando Magic during th...
Associated Press

Milton, Harris lead 76ers’ rout of Magic

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Shake Milton had 29 points and seven assists, and the Philadelphia 76ers routed the Orlando Magic 133-103 on Sunday night. Tobias Harris added 25 points for Philadelphia, which also beat the Magic 107-99 on Friday night. Danuel House Jr. scored 19 points, and fellow reserve Paul Reed had 12 points and […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Oral Roberts defeats Rogers State 81-70

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Max Abmas scored 20 points as Oral Roberts beat Division II-Rogers State 81-70 on Sunday night. Abmas had five rebounds for the Golden Eagles (4-3). Kareem Thompson added 14 points while shooting 5 for 7, including 2 for 4 from beyond the arc, and he also had five rebounds. Issac McBride […]
18 hours ago
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) drives against Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija (9) dur...
Associated Press

Brown scores 36, Tatum-less Celtics outlast Wizards 130-121

BOSTON (AP) — Jaylen Brown scored 36 points and the Boston Celtics held off the Washington Wizards 130-121 on Sunday. Malcolm Brogdon added 17 points and Derrick White finished with 15 for the Celtics, who have won three straight and 12 of their last 13. It is also Boston’s second win this season over Washington, […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Incarnate Word defeats Grambling 63-61

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Josh Morgan scored 12 points as Incarnate Word beat Grambling 63-61 on Sunday night. Morgan was 4 of 8 shooting (2 for 5 from distance) for the Cardinals (4-3). Jonathan Cisse scored 11 points while shooting 3 for 10 (1 for 4 from 3-point range) and 4 of 5 from the […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

UT Southern wins 84-82 against Samford

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Adarian Hudson scored 22 points as UT Southern beat Samford 84-82 on Sunday night. Hudson added seven assists for the Firehawks (1-2). Kavion Hancock was 7 of 14 shooting, including 2 for 5 from distance, and went 4 for 4 from the line to add 20 points. Kendall Wright recorded 14 […]
18 hours ago
Leonard accounts for 3TDs to send Duke past Virginia Tech