DURHAM, N.C. – Duke (1-0, 1-0 ACC) took advantage of three second-half turnovers and two turnovers on downs to pull away from No. 9 Clemson (0-1, 0-1 ACC), 28-7, in the season opener at Wallace Wade Stadium on Monday evening.
In his first regular-season start, Cade Klubnik completed 27-for-43 passes for 209 yards. Running backs Will Shipley and Phil Mafah helped lead Clemson to 213 rushing yards, and with 114 rushing yards in the contest, Shipley surpassed both 2,000 career rushing yards and 3,000 career all-purpose yards.
In the early going, Clemson was able to take advantage of a Duke turnover when Wade Woodaz recovered a muffed punt on Duke’s 18-yard line with 12:21 to play in the second quarter. On the fifth play of the ensuing drive, Will Shipley got the Tigers on the board, slipping out of the backfield and taking a pass from Klubnik two yards for the touchdown and giving the Tigers a 7-6 lead. It was the 27th touchdown of Shipley’s career, but his first through the air.
Clemson’s defense held Duke out of the end zone in the first half, allowing only two field goals. The Blue Devils converted a 4th-and-7 deep in Clemson territory toward the end of the first half, and looked to be in position to take a halftime lead. Jeremiah Trotter Jr. halted the drive, forcing a fumble six yards behind the line of scrimmage. Andrew Mukuba recovered the fumble with 10 seconds to play in the half, and Clemson entered the half with a 7-6 lead.
On the first possession of the second half, Duke quarterback Riley Leonard escaped from the pocket and scored on a 44-yard touchdown run, giving Duke a 13-7 lead with 12:40 left in the third quarter. On Clemson’s next drive, Phil Mafah broke free into open field for a big 49-yard run to set up the Tigers in the red zone, but Clemson’s second consecutive blocked field goal attempt of the evening gave Duke the ball back on the 13-yard line.
The Tigers drove deep into Duke territory at the end of the third quarter and appeared poised to take the lead, but a Mafah fumble on the one-yard line ended the scoring threat. Klubnik saved a touchdown, running nearly 60 yards to track down Jaylen Stinson, but the Blue Devils added a touchdown on the ensuing six-play scoring drive.
Clemson got the ball back on their own 20-yard line with 5:43 left on the clock in search of 14 points. However, a Duke interception on the fourth play of the drive gave the Blue Devils the ball back with a two-possession lead. A 30-yard touchdown run from Jordan Waters sealed a 28-7 Duke victory.