New York Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett on the field for warmups before the Giants face the Las Vegas Raiders at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in East Rutherford.

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Jason Garrett candidate for Duke job

Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is the candidate for the vacancy at Duke, multiple media outlets reported.

Garrett, who was fired last month as offensive coordinator of the New York Giants, has spent his entire coaching career in the NFL.

He would replace David Cutcliffe, who went 77-97 in 14 seasons with the Blue Devils, including 3-9 in 2021.

Garrett, 55, coached the Cowboys for nine-plus seasons and compiled an 85-67 record in the regular season with three playoff appearances. He was replaced by Mike McCarthy after an 8-8 season in 2019.

Garrett played quarterback for eight seasons in the NFL with the Cowboys (1993-99) and Giants (2000), throwing for 2,042 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions in 25 games (nine starts).

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Justin Fuente speaks into his headset  against Richmond at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ryan Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Braxton Burmeister’s 3 TD passes lead Virginia Tech past Duke

Virginia Tech’s Braxton Burmeister threw for three touchdowns as Virginia Tech snapped a three-game home losing streak by drilling Duke 48-17 on Saturday.

Teammate Raheem Blackshear rushed for 117 yards on 12 carries and scored a touchdown. He also made a TD catch.

Keshawn King added a rushing and receiving touchdown for the Hokies, who compiled 573 yards of total offense.

The Hokies (5-5, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) need just one win across their final two games to reach bowl eligibility.

Burmeister completed 9 of 15 passes for 215 yards, with one interception.

Duke (3-7, 0-6) lost its sixth game in a row. Third-string quarterback Jordan Moore threw for a touchdown and ran for one.

For the Blue Devils, it was the third game in a four-game span without a first-half touchdown.

Duke had more rushing yards (196) than passing yards (147).

Virginia Tech, playing in its home finale on Senior Day, led 17-3 at halftime. The Hokies ended up 4-3 in games this season at Lane Stadium, which at one point was considered one of the toughest venues for visiting teams in college football.

Duke was within 27-10 and had possession early in the fourth quarter, but the Hokies tacked on 21 more points. That began with Burmeister’s 13-yard pass play to Blackshear.

Duke turned to Riley Leonard as the starting quarterback because first-stringer Gunnar Holmberg was still ailing from an injury suffered a week earlier in a home loss to Pittsburgh. Leonard was 7-for-16 for 84 yards Saturday before Moore was summoned in the second half.

Moore ended up with 113 rushing yards on 17 carries. Standout running back Mataeo Durant was held to 33 yards on 10 carries.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies running back Chance Black (28) returns a ball against the Boston College Eagles during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech aims to get back on track vs. Duke

Two teams that are beyond desperate for success meet when Duke visits Virginia Tech on Saturday in Blacksburg, Va.

A strong start to the season has been slipping away for Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Now coach Justin Fuente seems comfortable offering the Senior Day factor as a form of motivation.

“We’ve got a large group of really good kids that have been in this program — most of them have been in this program for a long time that deserve to get sent out the right way,” Fuente said.

Virginia Tech will play its home finale. The Hokies are 3-3 at Lane Stadium, with three straight losses on home turf.

Duke (3-6, 0-5) has lost five games in a row, and four of those haven’t been close. The Blue Devils went two consecutive games without scoring in the first half until last week’s 54-29 loss to visiting Pittsburgh.

“I know our spirit will remain good,” said Duke coach David Cutcliffe, whose team is the only ACC club without a league win. “We are going to continue to fight to try to find that consistency in those things that win football games in all three phases. I believe in my heart that we can do that.”

Virginia Tech is fresh off a 17-3 loss Friday night at Boston College, which had been winless in ACC play.

Both teams have health-related concerns at quarterback.

Virginia Tech’s Braxton Burmeister didn’t finish the Boston College game as he left with an injury. Knox Kadum filled in, completing just seven of 16 passes.

Duke has issues to sort out, especially after quarterback Gunnar Holmberg exited with an upper-body injury late in the first half against Pittsburgh. That moved Riley Leonard into the quarterback role.

“It was just a great experience for him,” Cutcliffe said of Leonard’s extended playing time.

Duke running back Mataeo Durant said, “For Riley, it’s just getting more and more experience every game and I feel like he has what it takes.”

Durant became the program’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Chris Douglas in 2003. Durant, who has 1,062 yards on the ground, is the fifth Blue Devil to post 1,000 rushing yards in a season.

This is Duke’s final road game of the season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) throws downfield  during the second quarter against the Duke Blue Devils at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Pickett powers No. 25 Pittsburgh past Duke

Kenny Pickett threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns to lead 25th-ranked Pittsburgh to a 54-29 win over Duke on Saturday in an ACC contest in Durham, N.C.

Jordan Addison caught seven passes for 171 yards and a touchdown for Pitt (7-2, 4-1), which bounced back from a 38-34 loss to Miami last week and stayed on top of the ACC Coastal Division standings.

Rodney Hammond Jr. rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown and Jared Wayne reeled in five receptions for 81 yards for the Panthers.

Gunnar Holmberg completed 16 of 23 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown for Duke (3-5, 0-5), which has lost five straight games.

Leading 30-19 at halftime, Pitt scored on the first drive of the second half after Pickett connected on a 29-yard pass to Gavin Bartholomew.

After Duke cut its deficit to 37-22 on a field goal, the Panthers answered with 4:36 left in the third quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Addison.

Duke closed to within 44-29 with 13:41 remaining on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Riley Leonard to Mateo Durant.

But the Blue Devils couldn’t get any closer the rest of the game.

Pitt jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 7:09 remaining in the first quarter on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Pickett to Wayne. Duke scored the next 12 points to take a 12-7 lead, the last of those points being a 32-yard touchdown pass from Holmberg to Jalon Calhoun with 1:16 left in the first.

Pitt took a 14-12 lead with 11:59 remaining in the second quarter on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Pickett to Addison. Duke regained the lead at 19-14 when Jaylen Stinson returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown.

The Panthers controlled the rest of the second quarter from there, outscoring Duke 16-0 to take a 30-19 lead at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Duke Blue Devils cornerback Josh Blackwell (31) breaks up a pass in the end zone intended for Virginia Cavaliers wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks (3) during the first quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Brennan Armstrong leads Virginia blowout of Duke

Brennan Armstrong threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another as Virginia crushed visiting Duke 48-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference play Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville, Va.

The Cavaliers (5-2, 3-2 ACC) have won three games in a row, though the first two of the streak came by a total of three points.

Armstrong completed 25 of 45 passes for 364 yards without an interception.

Mataeo Durant gained 82 yards on 17 carries for Duke (3-4, 0-3), which has lost three straight. This came after his school-record 43 carries a week earlier against Georgia Tech.

Gunnar Holmberg completed 20 of 34 passes for 134 yards with two picks and the Blue Devils were outgained by a 528-325 margin.

Virginia produced 24 second-quarter points on the way to a 34-0 halftime edge. The last points came on Armstrong’s 7-yard pass to Jelani Woods with five seconds left in the half following a Holmberg interception.

All of Virginia’s first-half touchdown drives consisted of at least eight plays, plus there was an 11-play march that resulted in a field goal.

The longest scoring play came on Virginia’s first touchdown when Armstrong hooked up with Dontayvion Wicks on a 20-yard play. Wicks finished with 125 receiving yards on seven catches.

Duke committed two turnovers in the first half, when the Blue Devils were also damaged by penalties and dropped passes. They had their best scoring chance on their first possession but came up empty as Matt Alswanger missed a 25-yard field goal attempt when the ball bounced off the upright.

Duke reached the Virginia 18-yard line in the third quarter before stalling.

Keytaon Thompson, Devin Darrington and Ronnie Walker Jr. all ran for Virginia touchdowns. Brendan Farrell kicked field goals from 31 and 34 yards.

Darrington finished with a team-high 60 rushing yards on five attempts.

Virginia has won seven consecutive meetings with Duke.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, Duke Blue Devils running back Mataeo Durant (21) runs the ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the third quarter at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

Duke, Virginia stars take center stage for ACC matchup

It’s clear that Duke and Virginia rely on a couple of players for much of their offense.

So, who holds up better between Blue Devils running back Mataeo Durant and Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong could factor into the outcome when the Atlantic Coast Conference teams meet Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville, Va.

Virginia (4-2, 2-2 ACC) enters the game after two thrilling road wins — 30-28 over Miami and 34-33 over Louisville.

Last Saturday against the Cardinals, the Cavaliers rallied from 17 points down in the fourth quarter.

Armstrong, who completed 40 of 60 passes for 487 yards and three touchdowns, was a focal point of that success. The yardage total was the second highest in school history, surpassed only by his 554 yards in a September loss at North Carolina.

“You think you’re going to win just because he thinks he’s going to win no matter what the circumstances,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “He’s just a fierce competitor.”

Duke (3-3, 0-2) is trying to shake off a two-game skid following a 31-27 home loss to Georgia Tech last Saturday. The Blue Devils are aware of what Armstrong has been up to the past several weeks.

“We know we’re playing a conference of quarterbacks, so we’re going to (face) a talented offense every week,” Duke defensive tackle DeWayne Carter said. “It’s a new challenge every single week.”

Armstrong has thrown 284 passes this season, with 17 touchdowns. He also has been picked off six times.

Duke’s defense has intercepted two passes in three different games this season.

The Cavaliers like how Armstrong has worked through any struggles.

“It’s really hard to get him down, just because of his go-go-go attitude,” Virginia tight end Grant Misch said.

Durant’s 152 rushing yards in the Georgia Tech game came on a school-record 43 carries. The output also pushed Durant, a senior, to more than 2,000 rushing yards for his career.

The Blue Devils rallied from 14 down before falling to the Yellow Jackets.

“That shows how potent our offense can be at any time,” Durant said.

This will be Duke’s first out-of-state trip of the season. The Blue Devils have lost their lone road games, to Charlotte and to North Carolina.

“Our football team is doing a lot of good things,” coach David Cutcliffe said. “It is my job to make sure that we don’t minimize all those good things. We need to maximize all of those opportunities.”

Virginia has won six straight meetings against Duke. Because of last year’s pandemic-related schedule adjustments, this marks the third year in a row the teams will face off in Charlottesville.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, Duke Blue Devils running back Mataeo Durant (21) runs the ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the first quarter at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Howard-USA TODAY Sports.

Georgia Tech clips Duke 31-27 on last-minute touchdown

Georgia Tech’s Jeff Sims threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Adonicas Sanders with 51 seconds left as the visiting Yellow Jackets beat Duke 31-27 on Saturday afternoon in Durham, N.C.

The winning drive came as part of an 88-yard march in six plays.

Sims ended up 12-for-25 for 297 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, while also gaining 55 yards on 12 rushes.

Gunnar Holmberg threw for two touchdowns and Mataeo Durant rushed for 152 yards for Duke (3-3, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Durant had a school-record 43 carries. Holmberg finished 22-of-29 passing for 292 yards and his lone interception came in the waning seconds.

Sims threw for 18 yards to Kyric McGowan to break a tie with 6:30 left in the third quarter.

The Blue Devils pulled even after Holmberg’s fourth-down pass to Nicky Dalmolin for a 7-yard touchdown play with 12:33 remaining.

Duke used a 15-play drive to go ahead on Charlie Ham’s 22-yard field goal at the 5:06 mark. Durant gained 23 yards and Jordan Waters picked up 12 rushing yards on the 80-yard drive.

Georgia Tech (3-3, 2-2) had five second-half possessions, punting on four of those before its final chance began with 1:42 remaining at its own 12-yard line.

Georgia Tech scored the game’s first 14 points, but Duke had a chance to tie in the final minute of the first half. Ham missed a 42-yard field goal, leaving the Yellow Jackets ahead 17-14.

Ham’s 35-yarder in the third quarter tied the game.

Sims had a part in Georgia Tech’s two first-quarter touchdowns. He threw to Jahmyr Gibbs on a 77-yard play for the game’s first points on a possession that lasted just three plays.

Sims ran in from 1 yard out for the next touchdown to complete an eight-play, 77-yard march.

Duke’s first points came on Holmberg’s 37-yard pass to Jake Bobo. Following a Georgia Tech field goal, Durant’s 1-yard run allowed Duke to close within 17-14 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA;  Duke Blue Devils running back Mataeo Durant (21) runs with the ball towards the end zone during the 1st half of the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

Duke and Georgia Tech battle for a much-needed rebound

Georgia Tech and Duke have something in common going into Saturday afternoon’s game in Durham, N.C.

Each is trying to shake off a 31-point defeat.

Getting things back together this week is the top priority for both teams in the ACC game.

“When you are getting those types of inconsistent results, that is the thing you can’t run from,” said Duke coach David Cutcliffe, whose Blue Devils (3-2, 0-1 ACC) had a three-game winning streak snapped with a 38-7 loss at North Carolina. “I have to own it and run to it. Now, (our players) have to own their end of this.”

That’s much the approach the Yellow Jackets (2-3, 1-2) are taking after their 52-21 home loss to Pitt.

“Hit the reset button,” Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins said. “I believe in those guys. We just have to learn how to not hurt ourselves. We can’t look anywhere else except at ourselves and where we can do better.”

Georgia Tech had enjoyed a big 45-22 win over then-No. 21 North Carolina but couldn’t repeat that performance the following week against Pitt. Duke, meantime, was left to absorb the frustrations that the Tar Heels unleashed after their upset loss to Tech.

The Blue Devils look to move past that game and improve to 4-0 at home this season.

“It is another ACC game every week and they are all critically important to us,” Cutcliffe said.

Duke’s defense had five sacks in the North Carolina game. That came a week after Georgia Tech posted eight sacks against the Tar Heels, so both teams have shown the ability to apply quarterback pressure.

A fumble returned 63 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter put Duke down by 14 against North Carolina, and the Blue Devils were unable to get untracked offensively, scoring only on an 80-yard pass from Gunnar Holmberg to Jalon Calhoun after they had fallen behind 24-0.

Holmberg managed just 104 yards on his other 23 passing attempts in the game as Duke punted nine times.

“We just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities like we usually do once we got the ball,” said running back Mataeo Durant, who gained 114 yards rushing against North Carolina.

Durant has cracked Duke’s rushing top 10 list (1,957 career yards), and with 68 yards would move up to eighth pace (passing Julius Grantham with 1,989 and Jela Duncan with 2,024). He has rushed for more than 100 yards in four games this season and eight times in his four-year career with the Blue Devils.

For Georgia Tech, even in the setback to Pitt, Yellow Jackets quarterback Jeff Sims threw for 359 yards, marking the most passing yards for a Tech player in nearly 20 years (George Godsey’s 486 vs. Virginia, Nov. 10, 2001).

Last November, Georgia Tech hammered Duke 56-33 in Atlanta with Sims throwing for three touchdowns. That marked only the second victory for the Yellow Jackets in the past seven meetings in the series.

The Yellow Jackets are 52-35-1 in the series.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils quarterback Gunnar Holmberg (12) is hit by North Carolina Tar Heels linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel (44) as he passes the ball in the second quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Howell fuels North Carolina rout of rival Duke

Sam Howell passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns as North Carolina got back on track with a 38-7 victory against visiting Duke on Saturday afternoon in Atlantic Coast Conference action in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Howell completed 18 of 32 passes without an interception, while the North Carolina defense straightened up after a rough outing a week earlier at Georgia Tech.

The Tar Heels (3-2, 2-2 ACC) claimed a 24-0 halftime lead on their way to a second victory by 20 or more points against a Coastal Division foe. Ty Chandler had a receiving touchdown and a rushing touchdown and Josh Downs caught six passes for 168 yards and a score.

Duke (3-2, 0-1), which won three consecutive games at home, stumbled on the road for the second time this year.

The Tar Heels keep the Victory Bell, which is the prize for the winner of the annual matchup between the neighboring rivals, after winning for the third straight time in the series. Mack Brown, who’s in his second stint as North Carolina’s coach, has directed victories in 11 straight meetings with Duke.

Duke’s Mataeo Durant ran for 114 yards on 19 carries, but he had only 20 yards after halftime.

Howell and Chandler hooked up for a 75-yard pass play in the final seconds of the first quarter for the game’s first points.

The Tar Heels doubled their lead about 90 seconds later when Duke quarterback Gunnar Holmberg fumbled and Trey Morrison returned the ball 63 yards for a touchdown.

Duke scored on the first snap of the second half on Holmberg’s 80-yard pass play to Jalon Calhoun.

The Blue Devils reached North Carolina territory in the third quarter with a chance to trim a 24-7 hole, but that drive fizzled.

Chandler added a 14-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter before Howell’s 63-yard pass play to Josh Downs accounted for the last touchdown.

Holmberg completed 17 of 24 passes for 184 yards with one TD and one interception. Calhoun finished with 103 yards on six catches.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils quarterback Gunnar Holmberg (12) scores a touchdown during the 1st half of the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

Duke rides winning streak into matchup at North Carolina

Going into October, Duke unexpectedly appears to be on the rise, while highly touted North Carolina is left trying to figure things out.

The teams meet Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C., with Duke making the short trek for its Atlantic Coast Conference opener.

“This is not who we want to be or who we are,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. “We’ve got to learn from it.”

North Carolina (2-2, 1-2 ACC) has lost both of its ACC games away from Chapel Hill, tumbling out of the national rankings following a 45-22 setback to Georgia Tech last Saturday. This wasn’t the prescribed opening month for a team that began the season in the Top 10.

“A lot of things went wrong,” North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell said. “There’s still a lot of football left to be played, so we just have to keep our head up, keep working.”

Duke (3-1) built a three-game winning streak with home triumphs, holding the rare distinction early in the season of a team with two non-league victories against opponents from Power 5 conferences (Northwestern and Kansas).

While that was nice, sterner tests await the Blue Devils, who have already eclipsed their 2020 win total of two.

“It’s getting ready to get real now,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “Here we go with ACC play. We have to get better fast.”

So do the Tar Heels, who kick off three straight home games with their matchup against Duke.

“I think we’ll respond well,” Howell said. “No one expected this out of us four games into the season.”

Duke quarterback Gunnar Holmberg was part of five touchdown plays last Saturday against Kansas. He tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns.

“I just think keeping our composure and being able to respond is something really special about this team,” Holmberg said.

Ownership of the Victory Bell is at stake each year when these teams meet. This will be the 108th meeting overall.

North Carolina has gone 2-0 against Duke since Brown returned to coach the Tar Heels, winning in thrilling fashion in 2019 with a goal-line interception with 14 seconds left and then recording a 56-24 road victory last year. Before that, Duke had a three-game winning streak in the series.

Overall, North Carolina has 10 straight victories in the series with Brown on the sideline. The veteran coach holds a 10-2 mark against the Blue Devils.

–Field Level Media