Duke defense stifles No. 9 Clemson in opening stunner

Fans rushed the field on Monday in Durham, N.C., because for the first time since 2004, Duke beat Clemson in football.

Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard totaled 273 yards of total offense as his side topped the visiting No. 9 Tigers 28-7 in a nationally televised matchup. The game was the season opener for both teams.

Duke was previously 0-13 in season openers against ranked opponents, and Clemson had won five straight against the Blue Devils and 25 of the previous 30 matchups. It was the first time the Blue Devils beat a ranked opponent since a 2016 win over then-No. 15 North Carolina.

Leonard completed 17 of 33 passes for 175 yards and also rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Jaquez Moore and Jordan Waters also ran for Duke touchdowns.

Will Shipley rushed for 114 yards on 17 carries and scored the lone touchdown of the day for Clemson on a reception. Cade Klubnik completed 26 of 40 passes for 205 yards and the one TD with one interception.

The Clemson touchdown came after Duke jumped out to a 6-0 lead on field goals from Todd Pelino from distances of 22 and 42 yards. Clemson was in position to score because the Blue Devils mishandled a punt return that gifted the Tigers position inside the red zone, and Shipley caught a 2-yard pass to put the visitors up 7-6 early in the second quarter.

Duke responded in the second half with a pair of touchdowns.

On a third-and-3 situation during the opening drive of the third quarter, Leonard broke three tackles as he scampered 44 yards for a touchdown.

Three possessions later, Duke took over on Clemson’s 33-yard line after Blue Devils defensive back Jaylen Stinson returned a fumble 55 yards, and Leonard led a six-play drive that ended with a 9-yard rushing score from Moore.

A strong defensive effort was incredibly crucial to Duke’s success. The Blue Devils blocked two Clemson kicks — courtesy of Jamion Franklin and Wesley Williams — and forced three turnovers. Duke also notched eight pass breakups and turned the Tigers over on downs twice in the fourth quarter.

The Blue Devils will aim to continue their success on Saturday against FCS foe Lafayette. Clemson will aim to bounce back at home against Charleston Southern.

–Field Level Media