Duke Football - Military Bowl Champs - The Bowl Experience - And A Look Back On 1st Season Elko Era
I know I am late getting this blog post out. The Christmas holiday season is a busy time for everybody with traveling, family get togethers, etc.. now let's get to the point of this blog post!
MILITARY BOWL CHAMPS!
Duke Football is your 2022 Military Bowl Champs! What an amazing first season of the coach Mike Elko era! Duke finished the regular season 8 - 4 (and could have easily been 10 - 2 if a few plays or ref calls went another way) and beat UCF by a score of 30 - 13 to win the Military Bowl and finish with a 9 - 4 record. As I am writing this, Duke was left out of the final AP Top 25 poll (came in at 26th)... could that be bulletin board material for next season..?
A LOOK BACK ON THE 1ST SEASON OF THE ELKO ERA
Again... what an amazing first season for Duke Football fans to witness under the Elko era. If you read my blog posts you will see that I predicted Duke to have a 6 - 6 record in my preseason predictions.. and.. well.. I thought I was generous at that. But here we are at the end of the college football season and Duke Football has blown past expectations with Mike Elko also winning ACC coach of the year. From the season opening win against Temple in Wallace Wade Stadium to becoming bowl eligible by the end of Week 9 to winning the Military Bowl against UCF it has been one epic ride for Duke fans.
THE BOWL EXPERIENCE
In my opinion, the Military Bowl was a perfect landing spot for Duke Football for a bowl game. It is around a 5 hour drive from Durham to Annapolis. My wife and I came from Southwest VA and it took us about 4 hours. A bowl game this close to Durham made it easier for Duke fans to travel to the bowl game especially if you are on a budget. This was our first time visiting Annapolis and we had a blast. And...you already know I had to eat some crab cakes. I actually ran a poll on Twitter with the Over/Under on how many crab cakes I would eat at 5.5. Well unfortunately I only ate 2 crab cakes and didn't come close to the 5.5. However, between the crab soup, crab dip, bacon wrapped shrimp, and even Mexican food, my wife and I ate really good for our quick trip to Annapolis. If you are ever visiting Annapolis, I recommend Boatyard Bar & Grill for crab cakes and seafood. If you are looking for a hole-in-the-wall bar to get a drink then walk down the street from Boatyard Bar & Grill and check out Davis' Pub. A few of the locals even asked us how we found out about Davis' Pub. My wife and I enjoyed the conversations we had with some of the locals... and well some of their stories they shared... I won't be able to write about online lol! A good time was had the day before the bowl game in downtown Annapolis. Check out some of the food and drink pics below.
Finally, game day arrived. We got to Navy-Marine Corps Stadium early to take in the pre game events. Seeing the Budweiser Clydesdales lead the parade to the stadium was a cool site.
Up next my wife and I walked around and checked out the tailgate festival that showcased military displays, games, and music. Check out some of the pics below from the tailgate festival.
My wife and I met up with our friends from Duke Football Talk Section 17 Podcast. The Hard Hat Guys as always had an excellent tailgate. It was a cool experience to see Duke family and friends tailgating together for the bowl game.
If you haven't already, go check out the latest podcast from the guys at Duke Football Talk that takes a look back on the Military Bowl including the tailgate. You can check out that podcast here link below.
Duke family and friends gathered to welcome the team busses as the team arrived at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Up next was the pre-game delivery of the game ball by Team Fastrax. They delivered the game ball with an awesome patriotic skydive performance that was shown live on the scoreboard. Now this was awesome to see watching the scoreboard to see their view from the sky as they finally landed in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Check out the partial video of the performance and pics below.
It was also cool to see football field sized American flag displayed before the game.
As you can tell from the videos and pics above, the Military Bowl staff and the city of Annapolis put on an amazing bowl event!
Duke started off the game strong scoring a touchdown on their opening drive but UCF was able to tie it up before the first quarter was over at 7 - 7.
The second quarter is where Duke took over scoring 13 points while UCF didn't score in the second. Duke then went into halftime leading 20 - 7.
As a second half started Duke never looked back and maintained the lead winning the game by a final score of 30 - 13.
I'll include game notes and notables from Duke Sports Information at the bottom of this blog post.
As the clock ran out Duke celebrated the Military Bowl win in the first year of coach Mike Elko leading the Blue Devils.
Mike Elko spoke with the media after the win over UCF. Below is a video of his opening statement.
As I look back on this season all I can do is smile. What a season. What a first year coaching performance by Mike Elko and his staff. Shout out to all the players for putting together a memorable season. The future looks bright for Duke Football. It won't be long before the ACC announces the upcoming football schedule (1/30/23) and we can start to look forward to next season. Until then, I am still living up the recent bowl win as a media guy and as a fan.
Thanks for checking out Blue Devils Blog this football season. As always stop back by for Duke Basketball blog posts as well as more Duke football posts.
Look for a football blog post about the upcoming schedule soon. I hope to see many of you out at the spring game here in the near future.
Take care and Go Duke.
Keep reading below for post game notes, how it happened, and notables from Duke Sports Information
Sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard was named the Military Bowl MVP after rolling up 236 total yards and scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns as Duke capped a nine-win season by beating UCF, 30-13, in the Military Bowl, presented by Peraton, on Wednesday in Annapolis, Md. ACC Coach of the Year Mike Elko finished his first season at Duke with a 9-4 record and the program's seventh bowl victory, including a current bowl winning streak of four consecutive. UCF ended its season at 9-5. The nation's second-leading team in turnover margin, Duke was plus-two vs. UCF with a fumble recovery and a game-sealing interception in the game's final seconds by rookie Chandler Rivers. Led by Leonard's two rushing scores, the Blue Devils converted three rushing touchdowns in the game to finish the season with 31, setting a new Duke standard for a single-season. On defense, Duke matched its season-high in sacks with six to set a Military Bowl record for a single-game. How It Happened
Duke started the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown rush by Jaquez Moore on its opening drive. Moore's fifth rushing score of the season capped a nine-play, 87-yard drive and was Duke's sixth opening-drive touchdown of the year.
The Knights responded with a 1-yard touchdown run to knot the score at 7-7 with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
A 13-point second quarter for the Blue Devils handed Duke a 20-7 edge at the break. Rookie kicker Todd Pelino registered a career-long 48-yard field goal just before halftime to help the Blue Devils cause.
Duke continued to add to its lead with a 38-yard field goal early in the third quarter to create a 23-7 gap between the teams.
UCF ended the Blue Devils' scoring run with a two-yard touchdown scamper with nine minutes left to play to pull within 23-13.
The Blue Devil defense then made two key stops in the final minutes of play on 4th-and-18 and 3rd-and-10 to ultimately secure the win. The first stop gave Duke great field position in which it converted a touchdown on the ensuing drive to extend its advantage to 30-13. The latter sealed the win for the Blue Devils as Rivers picked off UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee in the end zone with 46 ticks remaining.
Duke's nine wins are the most since 2014 when the Blue Devils finished 9-4.
Duke broke the single-season rushing touchdown record after scoring three via the ground game to finish with 30 on the year.
Duke concluded the year 7-0 when scoring first and registered a touchdown in six of those seven outings, including five on its opening drive.
Leonard finished the game 19-of-28 passing for 173 yards and added 10 carries for 63 yards with two scores.
Leonard tallied his fourth career multi-rushing touchdown game.
Senior Jalon Calhoun recorded a team-high 62 yards on six receptions to lead the Blue Devil receivers.
The Blue Devils recorded six sacks in the game to set the Military Bowl record. Cam Dillon (2), Tre Freeman, Darius Joiner, R.J. Oben, and Ryan Smith each recorded a sack. The Blue Devils ended the season recording two-plus sacks in six of their last seven games. Freeman's takedown was the first of his career sack.
Dillon led the Blue Devils with a team-high nine tackles and was followed closely by Joiner with seven.
Punter Porter Wilson recorded a 57-yard punt in the first quarter for his 11th 50-plus yard punt of the season. He finished with four punts for 171 yards for an average of 42.8 yards per boot.
Pelino converted on all three of his field goal attempts, including a career long 48-yarder. That kick was the second longest in Military Bowl history behind Virginia Tech's field goal by Joey Slye in 2014.