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Defense carries Duke past Troy in Birmingham Bowl

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Todd Pelino kicked three field goals and Duke relied mostly on defense to defeat Troy 17-10 in the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday in Birmingham, Ala., where interim coaches guided both teams.

Troy didn’t score until the second half but made a game of it until a late interception doomed the Trojans’ final chance.

Pelino had second-quarter field goals from 34 and 37 yards, including the latter on the last play of the first half. Combined with Jaylen Coleman’s 1-yard run late in the first quarter and Nicky Dalmolin’s two-point conversion run, the Blue Devils carried a 14-0 lead to halftime.

Quarterback Grayson Loftis finished the game 19-for-29 for 183 yards with an interception for the Blue Devils.

Duke (8-5) received 73 rushing yards from running back Jaquez Moore and 66 yards from running back Jordan Waters.

Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson completed 21 of 36 passes for 230 yards, and running back Kimani Vidal gained 79 yards on 17 carries. The Trojans (11-3), the Sun Belt Conference champions, had a 10-game winning streak end.

Both teams saw their previous coaches depart for other jobs after the regular season. Mike Elko left Duke to go to Texas A&M, while Jon Sumrall departed Troy for the Tulane position.

Trooper Taylor, the running backs coach, was in charge for Duke. Defensive coordinator Greg Gasparato oversaw Troy.

Troy finally got on the board on Scott Taylor Renfroe’s 44-yard field goal with 1:36 remaining in the third quarter. That capped a 10-play, 53-yard drive.

After Pelino’s 45-yarder with 13:29 remaining, the Blue Devils made a fourth-down stop that seemed critical at the time.

But Damaje Yancey’s interception gave the Trojans the ball back. They got going and moved 87 yards in 10 plays to score on Derrick Graham’s 2-yard run with 5:54 left.

Troy forced a Duke punt and started their last possession at its own 11-yard line with 1:40 left. Two plays later, Jeremiah Lewis intercepted Watson as Duke sealed the outcome to push its bowl winning streak to five games.

–Field Level Media

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