Duke football: Riley Leonard will return after gruesome ankle injury

Duke football quarterback Riley Leonard (Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke football quarterback Riley Leonard (Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke football quarterback Riley Leonard is looking to return this season. 

The excitement surrounding the Duke football program on Saturday came to a crashing end when No. 11 Notre Dame mounted an incredible final drive to defeat the Blue Devils, 21-14, but things became worse when quarterback Riley Leonard was injured in the final minute.

Trying to push the ball downfield in an attempt to tie the game, Leonard was sacked, fumbled, and bent backwards awkwardly.

The fumble recovery by Notre Dame, securing the victory for the Irish, quickly vanished in everyone’s mind as the Duke quarterback laid on the ground in serious pain.

Leonard, the darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate entering the game, could not put any weight on his right leg as he was helped to the sideline and had to leave the field and go back to the locker room with the help of crutches.

Duke did not provide an update on the status of its quarterback after the game as many people feared the worst for the Alabama native.

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However, it appears like Riley Leonard will make a return this season.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported on Sunday afternoon that the injury is “not season ending” for Leonard and a “more specific timeline should emerge in upcoming days.”

No. 19 Duke (4-1, 1-0 ACC) is on a bye this week before returning to the field on Saturday, October 14 when the Blue Devils host North Carolina State (3-2, 1-1 ACC) and play only ACC teams for the rest of the regular season.

Thamel’s report continued by saying the injury has been deemed a high ankle sprain and while an exact timeline of a return and recovery are unknown, it’s likely Leonard will be out for multiple weeks.

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Riley Leonard has completed 62.6-percent of his passes this season for a total of 912 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. He’s also rushed for 326 yards and four touchdowns.

Henry Belin will serve as the replacement for Leonard, should he miss any games, as the true freshman quarterback has only played in one game this season, a 42-7 victory over Lafayette, in which he completed all eight of his pass attempts for 118 yards and a touchdown.

Belin also rushed for a touchdown in his first career performance.

Duke travels to Tallahassee to play No. 5 Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC) on Saturday, October 21, the first of two straight road matchups against ranked teams which culminated on October 28 against No. 25 Louisville (5-0, 3-0 ACC).

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