After racing out to a 38-17 lead at halftime, the Duke Blue Devils suffered a complete and total collapse in the second half, getting outscored 35-10 over the final 30 minutes in a heartbreaking 52-48 loss.
Johnny Manziel, in what was perhaps his final collegiate game, was spectacular, throwing for 382 yards and 4 touchdowns while providing consistent motivation for a team that looked dead in the water at one point.
For three and a half quarters, Anthony Boone was every bit as good, but the Duke QB threw interceptions on both of Duke’s final drives, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Boone finished with 427 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.
After outplaying Texas A&M in every way in the first half, Duke took a punch to the gut in a miserable second half. The defense was powerless against Manziel and the A&M offense. The Aggies’ defense was just good enough to get stops here and there. The running game was suddenly abandoned. It was the type of nightmare of a half that will haunt this team for months. It was…bad.
The first half turned in by the Blue Devils was the best we’ve gotten from them all year. Touchdown passes to Snead and Crowder, along with rushing touchdowns by Boone, Connette, and Snead (again) shot Duke out to a seemingly insurmountable 35-17 lead. Duke then added an onside kick for giggles, and tacked on a field goal as time expired to boost the lead further.
Once the second half began, however, Manziel took over. The former Heisman winner threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and was perpetually encouraging to a defense that was struggling to find life against the Duke offense.
It would ultimately be the defensive unit that got A&M over the hump when Toney Hurd Jr. picked off a Boone pass and ran it back for the go-ahead touchdown. Nate Askew‘s pointblank interception of Boone on the following drive would clinch the victory.
Despite the brutality of the finish, it was a pretty fun game. The teams combined for 100 points, 1,202 yards of offense, and all of the fireworks a fan could ask for.