DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — A sold-out crowd watched as the No. 17th Duke Blue Devils tried to pull out another victory against #11 Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish won with a final score of 21-14, putting Duke at 4-1 so far this season.
Earlier Saturday evening excited fans who couldn’t get tickets to the game watched from bars across the Triangle. They knew this would be a close game with Notre Dame favored to win.
However, many fans hoped this would be an upset.
“We are taking them down,” said Kim Adcock, a loyal Duke fan.
Duke against Notre Dame was the biggest college football game for week five. ESPN’s College GameDay got in on the action by broadcasting live from Duke’s campus.
“College GameDay it’s huge for this area. Absolutely huge for this area,” Adcock said.
“The first time for entertainment to come to Durham. First time for it being here. We going to represent it well,” said Derrick Edgerton, a Duke fan.
In the game Saturday night, Audric Estime snuck through a crowd and broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds left, capping a clutch long drive by No. 11 Notre Dame, leading the Fighting Irish past Duke, who was ahead by one point before the run.
Estime’s run capped a 95-yard drive, one pushed by transfer quarterback Sam Hartman making multiple big plays with the Fighting Irish (5-1) trailing 14-13.
That included on a fourth-and-16 play in the final minute, with Hartman unable to find anyone downfield as he scrambled to his right before taking off and getting just enough — 17 yards, with a hard collision at the end of it — to keep Notre Dame alive.
Estime followed with the winning score two plays later, then Hartman hit Rico Flores on the 2-point conversion to make it a seven-point game.
Duke (4-1) had a final chance to tie it, but its last offensive snap ended in disaster. Star quarterback Riley Leonard was stripped of the ball by Howard Cross III while trying to throw, leading to a loose ball recovered by the Irish to end it. But Cross’ body also rolled up on Leonard’s right leg, leaving him writhing in pain on the ground as Notre Dame began to celebrate the game-clinching takeaway.
When it was over, Leonard was taken to a sideline medical tent for evaluation as the teams left the field. Hartman walked over and waited for Leonard to emerge — on crutches — to share a quick hug and a few words before jogging off for the locker room.
While Duke has a long tradition of excellence when it comes to basketball, fans say they want to see the football team do just as well.
“You know the basketball rivalry we have with Carolina (UNC). I want to see that in the football rivalry,” Adcock said.
“We can be a football school, too,” another fan said.
Under Duke Head Coach Mike Elko fans believe that will happen. The next time the Blue Devils play is against North Carolina State. That game is on October 14.