EVANSTON, Ill. — Clayton Thorson threw for 320 yards and three touchdowns, Justin Jackson rushed for 94 yards, and Northwestern defeated Duke 24-13 on Saturday night.
After being held to 7 points by Illinois State last week, Northwestern (1-2) scored on the game’s opening drive. Thorson connected with Garrett Dickerson for a 26-yard touchdown reception, capping a 10-play, 75-yard drive.
Northwestern capitalized on Blue Devils’ punter Austin Parker’s gaffe in the third quarter to take a 14-7 lead. Duke (1-2) was lined up to punt, Parker dropped the snapped and wasn’t able to get the punt away. Northwestern took over at the Duke 44. On the next play, Thorson found Solomon Vault wide open in the middle of the field for the go-ahead touchdown.
Thorson also connected with former walk-on Austin Carr on a 58-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
Duke quarterback Daniel Jones threw for 279 yards and one interception. Jela Duncan had 53 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Byron Fields picked off Thorson’s pass at the Blue Devils’ 1, which set up a 99 yard, 12 play Duke drive to tie the game at 7 with 3:03 left in the second quarter. The scoring drive was highlighted by Shaun Wilson’s 39-yard catch from Jones.
Thorson was hurried or on his back for most of the game. Duke was throwing a number of blitz packages at the Northwestern offensive line, which they weren’t able to pick up.
Duke: The Blue Devils failed to finish on multiple drives. Late in first quarter on fourth-down and 10 at the Wildcats’ 38, it looked as if Duke was going to convert on a fake punt, but Erich Schneider, who was wide open in the middle of the field, slipped on the grass and fell before he had a chance to catch Parker’s pass. Jones threw a pick at the Northwestern 22 at the end of the first quarter to Godwin Igwebuike and AJ Reed missed a 48 yard field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter.
Northwestern: Despite Thorson getting sacked five times, Northwestern showed some life on offense. The opening scoring drive featured Jackson, then Thorson was able to open it up in the air in the second half.
Duke: The Blue Devils visit struggling Notre Dame on Saturday.
Northwestern: The Wildcats season-opening four-game home stand continues Saturday night against Nebraska, who beat Oregon.