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Duke outlasts Indiana in Pinstripe Bowl

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For those expecting the New Era Pinstripe Bowl to produce a lot of points, they were not disappointed. In the end, Duke came away with a 44-41 victory over Indiana on Saturday at Yankee Stadium in New York. It was the Blue Devils’ first bowl victory since 1961.

“We’ve been hearing 1961 since my freshman year,” said Duke center Matt Skura. “It’s been a goal for a long time. It’s not just our senior class that’s been a part of this, it’s the senior classes before me.”

Defense was optional. Indiana piled up 33 first downs and 667 total yards, while the Blue Devils thrived on the big play. They scored on runs of 73 and 85 yards and had a 98-yard kickoff return.

After stopping Indiana on their first possession, the Blue Devils drove 45 yards in 11 plays before settling for a 52-yard field goal by Ross Martin. With 1:30 left in the first, Duke defensive back Dwayne Norman intercepted Hoosier quarterback Nate Sudfeld, giving the Blue Devils the ball at their own 15. On the ensuing play, Shaun Wilson took it all the way for an 85-yard run and a 10-0 Duke lead.

Sudfeld and the Hoosiers settled down in the second. He threw another interception, but connected with Luke Timian on a 27-yard touchdown pass to bring Indiana within three. With 1:25 left, Devine Redding gave IU the lead with a 14-yard burst up the middle.

It took Duke 25 seconds to regain the lead. Quarterback Thomas Sirk broke free for a 73-yard score to make it 17-14. Griffin Oakes tied the game for Indiana with a 45-yard field goal just three seconds before halftime.

Both teams had opportunities to take control of the game, but neither could take advantage. Indiana led 24-20 with 6:19 left, and forced a punt, but fumbled it away deep in their own territory, leading to a Blue Devil touchdown.

Indiana led 31-27 and had the ball at the Duke 10 with 11:17 remaining, but Simmie Cobbs Jr. dropped a wide-open pass in the end zone, forcing a field goal. Wilson took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards to tie the score.

“It was weird,” Sudfeld said after the game. “I felt like we were a play or two from really breaking away. We just weren’t really able to knock that door down.”

With 6:07 left, the Hoosiers stopped the Blue Devils on fourth down from their own 18. Sudfeld led them down the field in just five plays capped by 25-yard scoring pass to Mitchell Paige. Sirk, who was injured late in the game, took Duke on a 78-yard drive to tie the game at 41-41 and send the game to overtime.

Martin’s 36-yard field goal proved to be the game winner in overtime when Oakes missed one from 38 yards.

Sudfeld passed for 389 yards and three touchdowns for Indiana, while Duke had three players rush for 100 yards; Sirk had 155 yards and two touchdowns, Jela Duncan had 109 yards, and Wilson accounted for 103 and a touchdown. Redding rushed for 227 yards and a touchdown for the Hoosiers.

Duke finished the season with a 7-5 record while Indiana posted a 6-7 record.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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