Edwards Elevates Duke Past NC State 38-20

DURHAM, N.C. (GoDuke.com) -- Duke redshirt freshman safety DeVon Edwards returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns and added a kickoff return to the end zone to highlight Duke's 38-20 victory over NC State in front of 32,010 fans at Wallace Wade Stadium. The Blue Devils (7-2, 3-2 ACC) scored three touchdowns in 26 seconds in the fourth quarter to extend their winning streak to five games.

The three touchdowns for Edwards are the first of his career, while his 100-yard kickoff return is tied for the second longest kickoff return in program history. Edwards finished the day with 218 all-purpose yards, ranking second all-time among Duke freshmen all-time in all-purpose yards in a game.

Trailing 20-17 with 6:37 to play in the game, Duke scored 21 unanswered, including consecutive interception returns for touchdowns by Edwards, and cruised to victory in the final minutes of the game. Duke finished with three interceptions and a fumble recovery in the win and scored 35-plus points for the fifth time this season.

The Blue Devils got off to a fast start, going up 7-0 on their opening possession. Quarterback Anthony Boone headlined the five-play, 90-yard scoring drive with a 75-yard bomb to Jamison Crowder, setting up a Boone four-yard rush into the end zone. The 75-yard completion was Boone's longest of his career as he dashed for six points for the 10th time.

Duke's defense was outstanding in the first quarter, forcing NC State (3-6, 0-6 ACC) to punt on each of its first three possessions. The stalwart defensive effort continued in the second quarter as Duke kept the Wolfpack scoreless with just five first downs and 71 yards of offense including 15 through the air.

With their offense struggling to find its rhythm, the Blue Devils tacked on a 36-yard Ross Martin field goal midway through the second quarter and took a 10-0 advantage into the intermission.

Linebacker David Helton led the charge with eight first-half tackles and a quarterback hurry, while safety Jeremy Cash had five stops and a fumble recovery. Overall, the Blue Devils held NC State to 10 first downs and 155 yards of offense as they shut out an opponent for a half in the fourth straight game.

As Duke's offensive woes continued in the second half, the Wolfpack quickly took a 13-10 lead within a span of 4:58. NC State finally got on the board at the 8:46 mark of the third quarter on a 29-yard field goal from Niklas Sade. Just over a minute later, the Wolfpack evened the score on a 73-yard punt return by Rashard Smith. Sade tacked on a 24-yard field goal minutes later after a Duke interception to put the Wolfpack in front 13-10.

Edwards quickly took the air out of the Wolfpack on the ensuing kickoff. Collecting the ball on the goal line, the second year safety found a hole up the middle and outraced the entire Wolfpack team for a 100-yard kickoff return. The touchdown run, Edwards' first of his career, marks the fifth time a Blue Devil has had a kickoff return of at least 100 yards in school history.

A defensive battle to start the fourth quarter morphed into an exciting finish as NC State regained the advantage, 20-17, on an 80-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brandon Mitchell to Quintin Payton. Duke's offense, which had totaled 227 yards of offense through three quarters, came alive on the next possession. Quarterback Brandon Connette orchestrated an eight-play, 79-yard drive to retake the lead.

Edwards iced the victory for Duke, intercepting Mitchell's next two pass attempts and returning both to the end zone. After knocking Mitchell's pass out of the air, Edwards corralled the ball and scampered 25 yards for the score. On his second pick, the Covington, Ga., native weaved 45 yards to find the end zone, giving Duke the 18-point cushion with just over three minutes to go.

With under two minutes to play, Cash wrapped up the victory with his fourth interception of the past five games.

Duke returns to Wallace Wade Stadium next Saturday to face Miami at 3:30 p.m. in its final home game of the season.