DURHAM (AP) — Anthony Boone threw a few more touchdown passes, Duke’s offense put up even more big numbers and the Blue Devils claimed another home victory.
For these Blue Devils, it was almost like 2013 never ended.
Boone matched a career high with four TD throws and Duke opened its season by routing Elon 52-13 on Saturday night.
“We expect to win every game on our schedule,” Boone said. “And we practice to win and we go out there to win — we don’t go out there just to play to compete anymore. We play for keeps, and that’s something that’s a different mentality around here.”
Issac Blakeney caught two of those scores from Boone, covering 19 and 4 yards. Jamison Crowder caught the other two, from 46 and 13 yards.
Boone — who also threw four TDs two years ago against Virginia — finished this one 22 of 33 for 247 yards, and Shaq Powell added a 2-yard touchdown run.
Ross Martin kicked a 49-yard field goal and backup quarterback Thomas Sirk added two late touchdown runs for the defending ACC Coastal Division champions, who scored TDs on five of their first six possessions.
The Blue Devils established themselves as one of the feel-good stories of last year when they reeled off eight straight wins, cracked the national rankings, captured their first division title and claimed their second consecutive bowl berth — the first time in school history that’s happened.
A few months later, they picked up right where they left off.
The Blue Devils simply had their way with an outmanned Elon team coming off a 2-10 season, breaking in a new coach and playing its first game as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.
They rolled up a 567-328 advantage in total yards and didn’t let the Phoenix advance deeper than the Duke 17 until the fourth quarter.
“When you know you’re the better team, you don’t want to let a team come in here and really get themselves rolling and set the tempo,” Boone said. “You want to jump out early and set your tempo. … We couldn’t go out there and think, ‘You know, because we have all these things, we’re supposed to beat them.’”
Blakeney capped Duke’s opening drive by pulling down a lofted pass from Boone in the back corner of the end zone to make it 7-0. His second scoring catch came with 1:01 left in the half, when he took a quick pass from Boone, slipped out of a tackle and raced 19 yards into the end zone to make it 28-6.
Blakeney said he was prouder of the first touchdown because it was a fade — which the 6-foot-6 wideout has been doing since high school.
“That’s a thing we can use all season,” he said.
In between, Boone found a streaking Crowder down the left sideline and placed the ball over his shoulder at the goal line for a long score that made it 14-3 on the third play of the second quarter. They hooked up again on the opening drive of the second half, with Crowder diving in the end zone to pull in Boone’s shorter scoring pass.
Powell’s short touchdown run capped a 12-play drive and stretched the lead to 21-3 with 8:08 before halftime. From there, the rout was on.
John Gallagher kicked field goals of 36 and 35 yards and B.J. Bennett added a late 2-yard touchdown run for Elon.
“I’m not pleased with the result,” new Elon coach Rich Skrosky said. “I’m not one of those guys that’s going to sugar-coat it. We were competitive and we played hard to the end, but the result’s the result. That’s what we do, and we are judged on the scoreboard.”