David Wilson rushed for 148 yards and No. 15 Virginia Tech overcame a sloppy performance to claim a 14-10 victory over the Blue Devils for an Atlantic Coast Conference-record 11th straight road victory.
Logan Thomas was 17 of 28 for 190 yards with two interceptions and a 2-yard touchdown pass to Eric Martin. Josh Oglesby added a 1-yard scoring run for the Coastal Division-leading Hokies (8-1, 4-1).
They entered as 15-point favorites, were shut out in the second half and were sluggish and inefficient throughout -- yet came up with enough plays to claim their fourth straight victory. Virginia Tech rolled up 433 yards yet gave up 326 to Duke.
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Another sloppy performance, but once again Virginia Tech won. Read More>>
"Every week's not going to be just magnificent, and this week certainly wasn't magnificent for us," coach Frank Beamer said. "But sometimes when you can get through a game when it wasn't so good and get a win, that's big in the big picture."
Sean Renfree was 17 of 35 for 204 yards, but was intercepted three times for the Blue Devils (3-5, 1-3). They couldn't overcome four turnovers and lost their third straight overall and 44th in a row against nationally ranked teams.
"We know how good we are. Not many people may see it, but we know how good this team is, and we know that we can hang with anybody in this league," receiver Conner Vernon said. "We proved it out there today. ... It's tough. Losses like these aren't easy to get over."
Unlike so many of those losses during that streak, this one was competitive throughout. Duke had a golden opportunity to take the lead late after Jamison Crowder returned a punt to the Virginia Tech 34 with just under 7 minutes left.
"I was just saying, `They better not win this game. We better not lose this game,"' Wilson said.
The Blue Devils marched into the red zone in five plays, but on fourth-and-2 from the 15, Renfree rolled right on a bootleg and was dropped by Kyle Fuller for a loss of 3 yards with 4:37 remaining. Coach David Cutcliffe said running back Juwan Thompson was the primary receiver on that play but he slipped.
"They bit the run like we thought," Cutcliffe said. "We just tried to avoid them, and Sean just got stuck."
Duke forced a punt and got the ball back with 1:43 left, but Barquell Rivers intercepted Renfree's fourth-down pass with 55 seconds left to keep the Hokies unbeaten in 14 matchups against ACC teams in North Carolina as members of the conference. They also broke the league record of 10 straight road wins set in 2000 by Florida State and matched six years later by Virginia Tech.
Desmond Scott had a 3-yard touchdown run and Matt Daniels had two interceptions for Duke, which pulled within four points midway through the third quarter on Will Snyderwine's 26-yard field goal. He could have made it a one-point game with 12:27 remaining, but he hit his 29-yard attempt off the right upright.
Wilson, the ACC's leading rusher, had his sixth straight 100-yard game and has hit triple digits eight times this season for Virginia Tech. He accused the Blue Devils of "doing dirty stuff" at the bottoms of piles -- specifically, "pinching, punching, reaching through the face mask" and grabbing at his groin, he said.
The Hokies were playing for the first time without leading tackler Bruce Taylor. He sustained a season-ending right foot sprain last week against Boston College and became the fourth defensive player -- and third starter on that side of the ball -- lost for the season.
Neither team looked particularly sharp during a first half in which the teams combined to turn it over five times in a 20-minute span, with Renfree and Thomas each throwing two interceptions during that stretch.
The Hokies rolled up 301 yards before the break, but turned it over twice, missed a 29-yard chip-shot field goal and kept Duke's only touchdown drive of the day alive with three 15-yard penalties.
"When you can come in here and win a game like this and turn the ball over and not hit a field goal ... and lose field position like that, you know you've got a lot of guys fighting, you've got a lot of guys battling," Beamer said. "And I thought we did that as a football team."
Tech led 14-7 at the break after Oglesby's short scoring run with 10:20 left in the half, a run set up by his 31-yard carry up the middle to the Duke 1.
Duke's first two possessions ended with turnovers, and the Hokies made the Blue Devils pay for the second one. Virginia Tech scored first after going 85 yards in 12 plays, with Wilson's 39-yard run through the right side setting up Thomas' short scoring flip to Martin with roughly 4 minutes left in the first.
Scott tied it at 7 with his short touchdown run on the second play of the second quarter after those repeated flags on Virginia Tech kept giving the Blue Devils first downs.