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April 21, 2007

Defense squeaks out win in spring game

On the strength of two turnovers, including one defensive touchdown by linebacker Mike Tauiliili, Duke's defense won the annual spring football game 47-46 over the offense Saturday afternoon at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Using a scoring system that allowed the offense and defense to accumulate points on each play, the defense secured a victory thanks to a pair of big plays by its linebackers.

Tauiliili scooped a fumble in the backfield by Thaddeus Lewis on the scrimmage's sixth play and raced 24 yards for a touchdown to give the defense early control.

Then in the latter half of the scrimmage and the offense showing signs of a late rally, Lewis threw a costly interception to linebacker Charles Robinson at the goal line.

Tauiliili and Robinson weren't the only linebackers to have good days though.

Vincent Rey had a game high four tackles, Paul Thornton had three stops, and Marcus Jones added a sack and a tackle for loss as well.

Offensively, Lewis wasn't at his best, but he finished the day with 169 yards passing and completed 13 of his 21 throws.

He benefited from a fabulous performance by junior receiver Ryan Wood. Expected to be a role player in 2007, Wood was a star Saturday, catching three passes for 70 yards.

Redshirt freshman Jeremy Ringfield struck for a big play as well when he hauled in a 35-yard pass from Lewis.

Sheldon Bell, Raphael Chestnut, and Brett Huffman were also active in the passing game.

Chestnut caught three balls for 20 yards while Bell's three receptions netted 13 yards. Huffman logged two receptions for 21 yards from his tight end position.

Clifford Harris earned a hard fought one yard touchdown run to provide the only touchdown of the day for the offense in the abbreviated 36-play scrimmage.

Kicker Joe Surgan also had a productive day. The junior kicker is hoping to put a disappointing sophomore campaign behind him, and he took a step in the right direction by connecting on field goals of 20 and 25 yards during the scrimmage. Surgan also hit his only extra point try.

Several Blue Devils were held out of action for precautionary reasons, including Vince Oghobaase, Requan Boyette, Chris Davis, Cameron Goldberg, Ronnie Drummer, Leon Wright, and Tielor Robinson.

Duke coach Ted Roof said after the game that the final spring workout reaffirmed to him that his team has made progress over the last four weeks.

"I thought there was some good competition from both sides," said Roof "A lot of guys got to play so that was good. There were some good things and some things we still need to work on to get corrected to improve our football team for next season. Overall, I was very pleased with the spring and knowing that we've made some strides to get better as a football team."


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