Duke Wins Pinstripe Bowl In OT

(Duke celebrates the win in overtime – Jason Schott – New York Sports Day)

The Duke Blue Devils won the Pinstripe Bowl, 44-41, over Indiana in overtime.

Duke’s Ross Martin hit a 36-yard field goal on the opening possession of overtime, and Indiana’s Griffin Oakes missed his field goal opportunity from 38 yards out, giving Duke the victory.

This was the second straight year the Pinstripe Bowl went into overtime, with Penn State outlasting Boston College in 2014.

Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe said of the win, “Our team had a lot of heart. Our team had a lot of good leadership. Not necessarily I’m talking about tonight, but in the preparation and the focus. We had 23 seniors that were very committed to this process. It wasn’t all perfect tonight, but there was a will, a strong will, to prepare, a strong will to continue competing even when we fell behind in the fourth quarter. I think it was critical that we believed we could come out and pull this game out. If not the fourth quarter, then overtime.

“Congratulations to Shaun Wilson on the display he put on out there tonight. Pretty special. Thomas Sirk, pretty special. We hadn’t won a bowl game since 1961. So just understand that. For the first time in the history of Duke football, we’ve had three straight years of eight or more wins. That’s incredible from that regard,” said Cutcliffe.

Duke got the scoring started, as Ross Martin got a field goal five minutes into the game.

Late in the first, with just 1:16 left in the frame, Shaun Wilson then broke off an 85-yard run for a touchdown to make it 10-0 Duke.

Indiana’s offense got going in the second quarter, as they had a 10-play, 78-yard drive capped by a 27-yard pass from Nate Sudfeld to Luke Timian to make it 10-7 Duke at the 6:56 mark.

Later, with 1:25 left, Devine Redding broke off a 17-yard run to make it 14-10 Indiana.

Duke’s quarterback Thomas Sirk took matters into his own hands, as he took it himself up the middle and went 73 yards for a touchdown to make it 17-14 Duke with 1:00 left in the second.

That was still enough time for Indiana to march 55 yards starting at their own 23-yard line, and set up Griffin Oakes for a 45-yard field goal to tie it at 17 in the final seconds of the half.

The third quarter began with Duke getting a field goal on their four-minute opening drive and Indiana responding with a touchdown on a three-yard pass from Sudfeld to Nick Westbrook at the 7:11 mark that capped an 8-play, 59-yard drive.

The Indiana defense forced Duke into a three-and-out, but on the punt, Indiana’s returner Caleb Meinzer was stripped of the ball, and duke recovered it at the Indiana 19-yard line.

On the third play of Duke’s drive, Sirt found Brandon Deaver for a touchdown to give the Blue Devils a 27-24 lead.

That lead would be short-lived, as Indiana got a touchdown from running back Alex Rodriguez, who took it in from 10 yards out to make it 31-27 Indiana with 1:20 left in the third. That capped a six-play, 65 yard drive that lasted just a minute and 52 seconds.

Indiana had a chance to open up a nice lead in the fourth, as they had two great chances from the Duke ten-yard line around the 11:00 mark.

On a 2nd-and-5, they did a reverse, and Mitchell Paige fired a perfect strike to Simmie Cobbs, Jr., and he couldn’t corral it. On third down, Sudfeld tried a pass for Cobbs, Jr., that was broken up. Indiana settled for a field goal to make it 34-27.

That would be short-lived, as Jela Duncan returned the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 34 with 10:55 left in the game.

Indiana took the lead yet again when Sudfeld found Mitchell Paige for a 25-yard touchdown with 4:03 remaining.

Duke had plenty of time to march down the field, and Sirk led them on a 13-play 78-yard drive capped off by running it in himself from the five-yard line to tie it at 41 with 41 seconds on the clock.

A key part of that drive was Sirt finding wide receiver Max McCaffrey, son of ex-Giant Ed and brother of Heisman candidate Christian McCaffrey, for three completions.

Indiana had one last chance in the final seconds of regulation, a 56-yard field goal attempt from Griffin Oakes, but it went wide left.

Duke quarterback Thomas Sirt and Shaun Wilson were the co-MVPs.

Sirt threw for 163 yards on 17-37 passing, with a touchdown and two interceptions. On the ground, he ran for 155 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns.

Wilson ran for 103 yards, including his 85-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

For Indiana, quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw for 389 yards, as he completed 28 out of 51 passes, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Devine Redding ran for 227 yards on 35 carries and had a 17-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Cutlciffe said of how special this day was for himself and his seniors, “There’s tears. There were tears on the field. We just about broke the platform down. I don’t know if y’all stayed out there during the trophy presentation. Just so many players wanting to be up around there. It’s just emotional. I’m okay now. I wasn’t when I walked into that locker room to have to say good-bye to so many of those young people that you love. Then it dawned on me, they know they’re home at our facility. I told them that. They’re not really going away.”

Cutcliffe said of what this means for the Duke program going forward, “Personally it was so much fun to just sit back and watch our players. I was doing an interview with ABC. I couldn’t really hardly talk for wanting to watch our players. That’s joy. There was so much joy in my heart, I almost just forgot where I was. I almost forgot there was going to be a trophy presentation, et cetera. My next step, I want to be better at the trophy presentation than I was tonight. I want to grow in that regard.”

Indiana Head Coach Kevin Wilson said of the win, “Again, congratulate Duke. Made a lot of plays. We had too many errors. First half, I think we were one for three on fourth down, two across midfield, had two turnovers in the scoring zone, had the fumbled punt in the scoring. I think first half I think they had 229 the first half, two big plays at 158. We gave up too many big plays, too many turnovers. It comes down to a kick. Our guys want to say close. I told them it wasn’t. If it was good, it was good. It wasn’t good. I don’t think it was. It wasn’t. Because they played so hard, it’s a good group, kind of overcame some negatives and gave themselves a chance. At the end of the day we didn’t convert on third down in our score zone. Come up on the short end. Congratulate Duke. It has been a great trip. Appreciate the bowl folks, the city. Our guys have been well-received. Wrong side of the ledger.”

For Yankee Stadium, it was a big day as it was the debut of their new LED lights in front of a crowd of 37,218.

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