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Duke looks to sustain hot start, hosts NC A&T

Sportsnaut
Sep 2, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils wide receiver Eli Pancol (6) jumps to catch the football while Temple Owls cornerback Iverson Clement (22) defends him during second half of the game at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

Good times have come quickly for Duke this season, and now the Blue Devils look to be in good shape to keep it up.

Duke (2-0) will host North Carolina A&T (0-2) of the Football Championship Subdivision on Saturday night in Durham, N.C.

After last Saturday’s 31-23 victory at Northwestern, Duke is 2-0 for the first time since 2018.

“I am proud of our guys and there are a lot of things to clean up for sure, but that will be for next week,” first-year Duke coach Mike Elko said. “It is just a credit to the effort that these kids are playing with right now. I don’t know that our execution is exactly where we want it to be, but the effort (has been).”

The Blue Devils are already one triumph away from matching last season’s win total and a 3-0 start would be just their fourth since Fred Goldsmith’s first season in 1994, when they raced to 7-0.

“It is great to have that pat-on-the-back moment for us, but we are just looking forward to doing it again and keeping it rolling,” Duke receiver Eli Pancol said.

Among the encouraging developments, Jalon Calhoun (108 receiving yards) and Pancol (106) became the first pair of Blue Devils to top 100 receiving yards in the same game in nearly seven years.

And the Duke defense led the way in its season-opening 30-0 rout of Temple.

A&T coach Sam Washington said lots has been learned through two weeks, “which will tell us a lot about our needs going forward.”

Early deficits have been troubling for the Aggies, particularly in the 43-3 loss Saturday at North Dakota State.

“You can’t spot a team this good 21 points and expect to be successful,” Washington said.

There are signs that the Aggies could be discovering elements of a solid rushing attack. North Carolina A&T went nine games without a 100-yard rusher until Bhayshul Tuten pulled it off at North Dakota State with 127 yards on 24 carries.

Duke defeated the Aggies 45-17 last season and 45-13 in 2019 in the teams’ other two meetings.

N.C. A&T opened the season by losing to Durham’s other college football team, long-time rival North Carolina Central, at a neutral site in Charlotte, 28-13.

–Field Level Media