Alonzo Saxton II and a stifling Duke defense pave the way for Daniel Jones and T.J. Rahming.

It was supposed to be a close game, and many expected Northwestern to edge out Duke, but key plays by Alonzo Saxton II powered Duke to a definitive first half lead that was never challenged, and Duke went on to a 41-17 victory over Northwestern.

Saxton Sets the Stage

Northwestern started the scoring with a field goal in the first quarter. On Northwestern’s next possession, the 5-11, 185-pound senior safety Saxton sacked Wildcats quarterback Clayton Thorson for a ten-yard loss on third down, forcing them to punt.  Duke scored a touchdown on their next possession to take the lead, 7-3.

Early in second quarter, Duke took a 14-3 lead. Then, in what was arguably the turning point of the game, Saxton forced a fumble from Cameron Green and recovered it on Northwestern’s 37-yard line. Duke scored another touchdown, giving them a 21-3 lead and all the points they would need to win. But they weren’t finished yet.

In Saxton’s Words

As Saxton described the fumble recovery,

I was already going for the tackle, but right when he was turning around, the ball was already in my face, so at that time I thought I should at least try to go for the strip, and it worked out in my favor. Our coaches always told us that once we have a good position on them, we should always go for the strip, so that’s what I did.

Great coaching. Great execution.

Dominating Performances from Saxton and Jones

Saxton led Duke’s defense with seven solo tackles, as they held Northwestern to less than 200 yards of total offense (22 yards rushing and 169 yards passing). Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones rushed for 108 yards and threw for 305, leading Duke’s to 538 total yards. T.J. Rahming led Duke with 127 receiving yards.

Creeping into the Polls?

Although Duke remains unranked, they received three votes in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.

Full Disclosure

This writer predicted a Duke victory and that Duke would control the game, but he agreed with the consensus view that it would be a “close game.” Next up for the Blue Devils: Baylor at Wallace Wade on Saturday, September 16 at 12:30 PM.