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October 14, 2006

Noles conquer Duke again

For the 15th time in 15 tries, Florida State defeated Duke in lopsided fashion with a 51-24 knockout of the Blue Devils at Wallace Wade Stadium Saturday.

Thaddeus Lewis threw for 255 yards, with 110 of them going to Eron Riley, but the Blue Devils couldn't overcome turnovers, special teams errors, and FSU's big play ability.

The beginning of the game had an eery resemblance to Duke's last outing at home, when the Blue Devils self destructed in a 37-0 loss to Virginia.

After picking up an early first down, Lewis fumbled the snap on third and three from the Duke 38 yard line. The ball squirted free in the backfield where Seminoles linebacker Lawrence Timmons scooped it up and raced 36 yards for a touchdown before even a minute and a half had elapsed.

Duke's problems grew two series later when FSU's Chris Davis took a punt return right down the middle of the field 51 yards inside the Blue Devil 10 yard line, setting up a Drew Weatherford touchdown toss to wideout De'Cody Fagg on third and goal.

Thanks to Duke's offensive and special teams miscues, the Seminoles had a 14-0 lead and the Blue Devil defense had surrendered essentially nothing.

Duke refused to lay down though. Even after Weatherford struck again through the air on a 33-yard scoring toss to Greg Carr to make it 21-0, Duke fought back with a big play on defense.

Senior cornerback John Talley victimized FSU quarterback Xavier Lee, who entered the game for Weatherford after the Noles had built the three touchdown lead. Talley jumped an out pattern early in the second quarter and sprinted 50 yards to the end zone to put the Devils on the board.

Special teams problems dampened the excitement though when Timmons broke through the line untouched and blocked Joe Surgan's point after try. Patrick Robinson chased down the loose football and had a free path to the end zone for two points and a 23-6 Florida State lead.

It would stay that way until halftime, but Duke had a golden opportunity to slice into the lead just before the break.

Duke marched from its own 20 yard line following an interception by freshman cornerback Leon Wright all the way to the Florida State two yard line, but the Devils stalled in the half's closing seconds.

Lewis tried a third down fade pass to Riley that fell incomplete, but Ted Roof rolled the dice on fourth and goal on the half's final play and to try for a touchdown and potentially slice the lead to 10.

Requan Boyette's dive to the right corner of the end zone came up one yard short though and Duke's 17 point deficit held.

Although an 80-yard Antone Smith touchdown on the second half's first play for all intents and purposes ended the game, Duke still didn't throw in the towel.

Blue Devil punter Alex Feinberg dropped a perfect 47-yard kick to the Florida State one yard line, which set up the second defensive score of the day for Duke.

Redshirt freshman Vince Oghobaase blew up the FSU offensive front and stormed into the backfield to drop Lorenzo Booker three yards deep in the end zone for a safety.

Despite a missed extra point in addition to the PAT that was blocked, Surgan also contributed, nailing a 40-yard field goal at the 8:52 mark of the third quarter to pull Duke within 19 at 30-11.

Duke got within 20 points one more time late in the third quarter. Facing a 37-11 deficit after another Weatherford to Carr touchdown, Jabari Marshall recovered a fumbled punt at the FSU 22 yard line, giving the Blue Devils a short field to work with.

Duke ran four consecutive running plays, topped off with a two yard touchdown plunge by Justin Boyle in the closing seconds of the quarter.

Florida State's passing game, which victimized Duke's injury depleted secondary for 321 yards through the air, struck two more times in the final quarter to push the margin to 51-17, but the Devils had one more highlight in them before the final gun sounded.

Lewis fired a 41-yard touchdown to Riley with seven seconds remaining for the final score of the game.

Duke played most of the game without senior cornerback Deonto McCormick, who left the game in the first quarter with an apparent shoulder injury. Fullback Brandon King also left the game for Duke with a bad ankle.

Linebacker Mike Tauiliili led the defense with eight tackles, but Duke could generate no consistent pressure on FSU's quarterbacks.

Weatherford threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns, while Lee also had a scoring toss despite throwing two interceptions to Talley and one to Wright.

Duke is at home again next week to face another ACC power when Miami comes to Wallace Wade Stadium.


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