DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Jordan Waters ran for a career-high 112 yards to go with two scores, helping No. 21 Duke beat Lafayette 42-7 on Saturday night to cap a short week following its season-opening upset of Clemson.
Waters scored on a 5-yard run early in the second period and added a 16-yard run shortly before halftime that surpassed his previous career-best rushing total. That staked the Blue Devils (2-0) to a 21-7 halftime lead, then he cracked the 100-yard mark on his first touch of the third quarter amid a heavy downpour that followed the teams out of the break.
Duke was playing five days after the 28-7 win against the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference favorite and then-No. 9 Tigers. That game ended with fans charging to midfield to celebrate the program’s first win against a top-10 opponent in 34 years, then had the Blue Devils entering the AP Top 25 the next afternoon for the first time in five years.
The challenge Saturday night was far different for second-year coach Mike Elko: Get his players to push past success quickly and handle business as a nationally ranked team playing a Championship Subdivision team.
Duke largely did that with its ground game behind Waters and Jaquez Moore, who ran for 72 yards with a 39-yard score early in the third quarter.
Riley Leonard also threw for a score to Jalon Calhoun on the game’s opening drive for Duke. He completed all 12 of his passes for 136 yards before giving way to backup Henry Belin IV, who completed a 49-yard deep ball on his first snap and ended the drive with his first career touchdown on a 1-yard keeper for a 35-7 lead late in the third.
Dean DeNobile threw for a 12-yard touchdown to Chris Carasia for the Leopards (1-1). That came after Lafayette marched 75 yards on 13 plays, which included Duke jumping offsides on a field-goal attempt to extend that drive.
Lafayette: Coach John Troxell had pointed to the team’s inexperience in saying the goal was just to prepare well enough “so the stage isn’t too big” by facing an ACC team on the road. Picked fourth in the Patriot League, the Leopards hung in this game until falling behind by two scores shortly before halftime, then seeing that margin balloon in the third.
Duke: The Blue Devils have emerged from an emotional and challenging stretch. They’re 2-0 for the second time in as many seasons under Elko, who has won 11 of his 15 games as the Blue Devils coach.
Duke is in the AP Top 25 for the time since spending a week at No. 22 in September 2018. The Blue Devils likely won’t move much — if at all — with the Clemson win already reflected in their standing.
Lafayette: The Leopards return home to host Columbia on Saturday.
Duke: The Blue Devils host Northwestern on Saturday in search of a second straight 3-0 start.