Duke snaps 22-game losing streak with 20-14 win over Northwestern

Published 1:03 am Sunday, September 16, 2007

By By Associated Press
EVANSTON, Ill. — Duke snapped the longest losing streak in the country at 22 games, beating Northwestern 20-14 Saturday night.
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.
Jomar Wright, Ronnie Drummer and Brandon King each caught touchdowns for the Blue Devils, who led 20-7 after three quarters and never trailed. It took a late defensive stand by Duke to secure the win.
C.J. Bacher opened the fourth quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run to pull Northwestern (2-1) within 20-14.
Bacher 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.
When Bacher’s final pass sailed wide of Tonjua Jones as time ran out, Duke players and coaches swarmed the field and embraced on top of Northwestern’s purple and white N at the 50-yard line.
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.
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 88 yards and a score.