WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) – Ahmad Bradshaw scored on an 18-yard run, Javhari Bourdeau returned a blocked punt for another touchdown, and Army beat mistake-prone Duke 21-16 on Saturday to finish the season unbeaten on its home turf at Michie Stadium.
Army (8-2), fresh from a dominating 21-0 victory at Air Force, has won six in a row and finished 6-0 at home, the first Army team to be perfect at home in a season since 1996.
Duke (4-6) was 4-1 in its previous five meetings with Army, but the Blue Devils were done in by mistakes in their sixth straight loss and now have to win their final two games to become eligible to play in a bowl game.
Duke outgained Army in the first half and even held the ball a tad longer than the Black Knights, the leading rushing team in the nation. But two turnovers and the blocked punt cost the Blue Devils dearly. They trailed 21-10 at halftime and couldn’t rally for the victory.
Daniel Jones led Duke on a 14-play drive capped by Brittain Brown’s 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter, but the Blue Devils failed on the 2-point conversion when Jones was stopped cold on a run.
Army responded by holding the ball for over 10 minutes on an 18-play drive that was helped by a personal foul against Duke linebacker Joe Giles-Harris that gave the Black Knights a first down at the Duke 13.
Then it was Army’s turn to self-destruct, getting called for delay of game and a false start that forced the Black Knights to attempt a field goal. Duke defensive tackle Mike Ramsey blocked Blake Wilson’s 20-yard attempt with 4:15 left, giving the Blue Devils one last shot.
The Army defense made sure the seniors would celebrate one last time on their home field, stuffing the Blue Devils in their tracks. Jones was hit twice as he tried to pass and was sacked once and Duke had to punt with just over 2 minutes left.
After falling behind 3-0, Army drove 80 yards in 11 plays to gain a lead it never relinquished, with Andy Davidson rushing for 37 yards on four carries to help set up Darnell Woolfolk’s 3-yard touchdown.
Army then forced the Blue Devils to punt, and Davidson used his expertise on special teams to block the kick. Bourdeau, a freshman defensive back, quickly scooped it up and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter.
When Duke got the ball back, the Blue Devils committed another gaffe. Jones mishandled a snap on first down and Army safety Rhyan England recovered at the Army 36.
The triple option offers an element of mystery when it comes to Army, which did not attempt a pass in the win over Air Force and ranks last nationally in passing. Bradshaw stunned Duke with his only throw of the game, hitting a wide-open Kell Walker down the left side for 42 yards on a third-and-9 play. Two plays later, Bradshaw scored untouched over right tackle for what proved to be the decisive score.
Jones rallied the Blue Devils late in the second quarter, using his legs and his right arm. Jones rushed for 26 yards and threw for 29 before scoring on a 4-yard run.
Army gambled and lost on the game’s first possession, failing to convert a fourth-and-2 play from near midfield and the Blue Devils capitalized with Austin Parker’s 22-yard field goal.
Duke: Coming off a bye week, Duke faced the first of two straight games against the triple option with Georgia Tech next on the schedule. The Blue Devils held Army to 226 yards rushing, well below its average of 365.4 yards, so that bodes well for next week.
Army: The Black Knights continued their impressive run, overcoming an Atlantic Coast Conference team that was desperate for a win. They can match the school record for victories in a season if they win their final two games.
Duke: The Blue Devils host Georgia Tech next Saturday afternoon.
Army: The Black Knights are at North Texas next Saturday night.